Project Overhead Projector (PowerPoint is Evil)

I knew it, you knew it, university students and teachers have known it for quite some time, and now the whole world knows it: PowerPoint Is Evil: Wired says so! Although the article draws some nice parallels between PowerPoint-ism and the over-beauracratized Stalinist state (see the pic) I am disappointed to find that in the end it is little more than yet another *boring* PowerPoint tutorial with a thin veneer of sardonic humour slapped on top.

I am calling for presentation technologies to become part of the whole old-skool/analog retro thing: bring back the OHP, I say, along with Vespas, Moogs, Polaroid cameras and text-based, link-heavy websites. Hang it all, I like using the BLACKBOARD!

Note to self: get T-shirts printed that say: “I’m Down with OHP”.

The Onion | I Have An iPod–In My Mind

The Onion | I Have An iPod–In My Mind: “I hear those little things carry up to a month’s worth of music. Well, so does my mind.”

You have to love The Onion.

And of course, your mind doesn’t compress the song’s data, it chucks it into a soup of other audio viruses, keeping only the most virulent strains of the chorus or lyrics, all cross-referenced with smells, significant others, time of year, time of life…

Illegal Art

Amidst all the hype, all the gasbagging, all the soapboxing, and all the mind-numbing statistics, here is a really refreshing intervention into the explosive juggernaut that is the IP debate: an art exhibition called illegal art, explained thusly:

The laws governing “intellectual property” have grown so expansive in recent years that artists need legal experts to sort them all out. Borrowing from another artwork–as jazz musicians did in the 1930s and Looney Tunes illustrators did in 1940s–will now land you in court. If the current copyright laws had been in effect back in the day, whole genres such as collage, hiphop, and Pop Art might have never have existed.
The irony here couldn’t be more stark. Rooted in the U.S. Constitution, copyright was originally intended to facilitate the exchange of ideas but is now being used to stifle it.

The Illegal Art Exhibit will celebrate what is rapidly becoming the “degenerate art” of a corporate age: art and ideas on the legal fringes of intellectual property. Some of the pieces in the show have eluded lawyers; others have had to appear in court.

Loaded with gray areas, intellectual property law inevitably has a silencing effect, discouraging the creation of new works.

Should artists be allowed to use copyrighted materials? Where do the First Amendment and “intellectual property” law collide? What is art’s future if the current laws are allowed to stand? Stay Free! considers these questions and others in our multimedia program.

Sounds like a great way to give the issues some cultural reference points.

Blogging Goes to University

Weekly INCITE: “:: Weekly INCITE ::

INCITE is an Incubator for Critical Inquiry into Technology and Ethnography. It is based in the Sociology Department at the University of Surrey. Here, INCITE’s bevy of researchers report on matters methodological and theoretical, and discuss their various research projects as they progress.”

Go Surrey, this rocks! Meanwhile, certain humanities sections of rather prestigious universities here in Australia think the “internet” is primarily a “problem” for the veracity of scholarly publishing (bibliography-heads) and/or think that TV is the next big thing (ahem).

Gatekeeping the Fruity Loops Revolution

Been thinking about the links between the new definitions of creativity, especially how creativity is increasingly tied up with technological innovation. At the same time the technologies used in creative production are becoming cheaper, easier to use, widely available to “ordinary” consumers. I’ve started to notice the strategies highly specialised areas of producers (the professionals) use to keep their heads above water when there is such an overwhelming and ever growing amount of “amateur” production, particularly in the digital media. Particularly, there is a lot of work going into making value distinctions between “authentic” specialists/artists, and lay practitioners (i.e. “mere” consumers).

A case in point from a recent post to a list for (primarily experimental) electronic musicians:

I think CDRs are the now the most destructive thing around other than MP3s. …music is becoming generic. Not just pop music (which has been generic for a few decades now), but all music. CDRs and MP3s blow apart tradtional distribution and remove those barriers to people releasing music. The problem is everyone is releasing music. And most of it is not very good. Add to this the ease of getting a cracked copy of Reaktor, Cubase or whatever and its a recipe for disaster.

Now that’s disturbing, but also interesting — a perfect example of the social strategies used by subcultures to protect their restricted field of cultural production, and all the (sub)cultural capital that goes with it. Another bit of evidence to support my arguments that high cultures are subcultures too.

Follow ups: Subcultures and Sonic Proliferation, Part 1

Invisible Artworlds

Howie Becker has proposed that we need to study “amateur” cultural producers in the same way (high) cultural sociologists already do: that is, as participants in art worlds that interact with other art worlds (e.g. co-determinous relationship between amateur, avant-garde, and professional systems of practice). The full article, written in his usual and somewhat brilliant no-frills style, is at Howie’s website.