plug: Mission:

“ was inspired by the need to create support and opportunity for independent artists, culture producers and creative workers across disciplines. […] works to promote the design of alternative culture that counters mainstream modes of living and concepts manufactured and promoted by large corporate entities and governments. accomplishes this by exploring notions of ‘cultural capital,’ education, networked information, individual/community empowerment and self-sufficiency/sustainability. uses the democratizing potential of network technology to reach communities around the globe, producing projects and events that encourage these practices.”

Social Capital and Micro-Networks

In The Network is the Market, Ross Mayfield introduces us to the social theory behind Tribe.Net, a friendster-type social network-builder that is just coming out of beta. Like friendster, (but without that whole icky high-school-esque vibe) the idea is to build interconnected nodes of common interests.

But unlike friendster, is about information flow (classifieds, messages) that facilitate social trade, not just social connections. The most interesting aspect of Mayfield’s arguments about all this is his suggestion that social capital should and could replace economic capital as the driving force behind the political economy of the web. We can see how this might ring true when we look at the related debates about audio “piracy” and the difficulties that offline media outlets (including the record industry ) are having online, and the dismal failure of web advertising (at least he earlier, pre-viral broadcast model of advertising), compared with the apparent success of the social networks built through, say, blogging. Secondly, the “value of the small” that is an integral part of the philosophy: “the smaller the network the stronger the ties and the more valuable the information flow.”

I think this is what creative networks need to think about as well – music subcultures, for example – creating nodes – small, dense networks with explicit social ties, and explicit or implicit social and cultural economies of exchange and value (these New Economy types stole it from “underground” communities in the first place anyway). A good start would be something like Soulseek, which is quite unlike the vast anonymity/broadcast model of Napster or KaZaA, and which sonic cultures at the more experimental end of music seem to be embracing – to the extent that new music commentator Jeff Harrington can sing its praises. Try finding Stockhausen on KaZaA.

For those interested in going into more theoretical depth into augmented social networks more generally, there is a recent article on the topic at First Monday. From the abstract:

This paper proposes the creation of an Augmented Social Network (ASN) that would build identity and trust into the architecture of the Internet, in the public interest, in order to facilitate introductions between people who share affinities or complementary capabilities across social networks. The ASN has three main objectives: 1) To create an Internet-wide system that enables more efficient and effective knowledge sharing between people across institutional, geographic, and social boundaries; 2) To establish a form of persistent online identity that supports the public commons and the values of civil society; and, 3) To enhance the ability of citizens to form relationships and self-organize around shared interests in communities of practice in order to better engage in the process of democratic governance. In effect, the ASN proposes a form of “online citizenship” for the Information Age.

BYO Brain

It looks as though someone has been reading my mind (or more honestly, all my good ideas are already taken). The REGEN Juice Bar in Toronto are putting on a gig called Regenerative Brainwave Music: ElectroBrainFunk. blurb follows:

What happens when a building reads your thoughts? What if music responded to your mind? REGEN3 will present the latest developments in EEG brainwave music research, by presenting an ensemble comprised of Toronto jazz musicians playing music which is driven and altered by the brainwaves of the audience. Audience members can become part of an advanced mass EEG system which uses audience brainwaves to control both the music and lighting environment: a truly ‘smart’ building. Join us and see what happens when the mood of the environment is ‘regenerated’ by the collective consciousness of the attendees.”

The technologically adept might like to take look at some detailed explanations of just how this is all done, and the scientifically challenged can view a video about the last such event that aired on Discovery Channel .

Small Black Box

This weekend, those in BrisVegas should spend $7 to check out Small Black Box, “a performance and listening space dedicated to experimental music and sound art, held at the Institute of Modern Art in Brisbane, Australia”. In the box this month:

Toy Satellite’s Andrew Garton & Justina Curtis present “D3 – From Drift to Dérive”, a stop-motion narrative engine conceived by Andrew Garton and produced by Toy Satellite for the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI).

Rene Wooller is currently a Masters student at QUT, focusing on the development of software instrument technologies. Rene is interested in devising ways of allowing electronic music to become more spontaneous, jammable and performable.

Phuquelica is comprised of current QUT music students Bek Anson, Trav Henderson and Drew Carter. Phuquelica guarantees a different show each time through the use of amusing samples, ill-timed and warped loops, ear piercing squeals and general disorganisation. Look out for industrial and metal influenced electronic experimentation.

Should be a good night.

Intelligent Sonic Environments

I have recently fantasized about clubs (or “concert” halls) as intelligent spaces, whereby the DJ/musician/sound artist would be even less a producer, and even more of a conduit or channel through which the sound and the crowd’s collective identity would move: the club would sense the size and mood of the crowd, would even measure conversation/listening/dancing levels, and the music would organically mutate and evolve accordingly. It seems to me to be a logical evolution away from the production/consumption divide, and the art/life one as well. But as I have absolutely zilch geek cred, I have no idea how much of a fantasy this is – I know there are people developing all kinds of applications with similar aims, though. Via Anne Galloway, for example, I have discovered the Sonic City Project, one of many creative and innovative projects at the PLAY research studio in Sweden. In this project, the city is imagined as an interactive environment:

“We are designing an mobile audio experience which maps real-time perception of personal state and environmental factors to music creation. In Sonic City, music is created algorithmically as a direct result of a user’s state, actions, path through the streets, the physical landscape, activities nearby, as well as the way the system is worn. Our first prototype involves a set of wearables which sense the user’s context when walking through the city. Continuous and discrete factors are perceived and mapped in real-time to dynamic parameters in musical creation.”

Anyone interested in ubiquitous computing, ethnographic research into technology in everyday life, or more interactive music technology should have a look at the project’s specs.

RIAA tactics revealed


The music industry’s methods of tracking down suspected music pirates have been revealed for the first time. Using digital fingerprints, or “hashes”, investigators say they can tell if an MP3 file was downloaded from an unauthorised service. The industry also tracks “metadata” tags, which provide hidden clues about how files were created. The details were given by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) in a legal case against a suspected pirate.

Dyke to open up BBC archive

I’ll leave the puns about the title alone and just send hurrahs to the BBC for this. The BBC has announced plans to give the public full access to all the corporation’s programme archives, that is, digitally – the service, the BBC Creative Archive will be available to everyone not trying to turn a dollar out of it. Director General Mr. Dyke sez: “‘I believe that we are about to move into a second phase of the digital revolution, a phase which will be more about public than private value; about free, not pay services; about inclusivity, not exclusion. In particular, it will be about how public money can be combined with new digital technologies to transform everyone’s lives. “