Friday, September 05, 2008

So maybe I should build a facebook application now?

A couple weeks back, in response to Mary Rotman's interview with Jesse Stay on O'Reilly FYI, about his new book, I posted an idea for a facebook application, and am now receiving a freebie copy of FBML Essentials. For what it's worth, here is a description of the application I proposed:

I would love to develop a collaborative authoring/incentivized blogging application for facebook. Imagine: you begin playing and discover a 'location', for which you provide a description; you explore the location and discover 'characters', and describe their activities as you employ them to explore your world, discovering and detailing more locations, more characters. Further explorations discover 'neighbours' (friends playing the game); when you interact with their locations and characters, the outcome is determined by the amount of descriptive content you have already supplied for your own characters (hence incentivized). As a storyline becomes more involved, it can be extracted as RSS or PDF, say, which can then be published into your news feed.

This would be an experiment in 'facebook social media', like an alternative to Harlequin, Gossip Girl, reality television etc. One approach would be to extend an existing open-source CMS like WordPress, laconica or atomicWiki by adding custom features. Unlike mySpace, fb isn't a blogging platform, but this would not be a conventional weblog, something more akin to fanfiction.

How hard is it to get facebook funding, anyway?

Currently enjoying:
Crystal Castles, "Death (White Lies Remix)"
Kristin Hersh - Mississippi Kite - Follow Kristin on Twitter - her tour notes read like a Tom Robbins novel or Tom Waits song:
borrowed airmiles to fly to the west coast shows...they'll fill the gas tank to get our kids problem-solving mode again

man, crows are the a whole murder outside this morning

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Deerhoof and Creative Commons - Offending Maggie

Reposted from O'Reilly News: Regarding "Offending Maggie"

On June 3rd, 2008, "Fresh Born", the first single from San Francisco band Deerhoof's upcoming album, was posted as sheet music under a Creative Commons license. In a few months, a full twenty versions of "Fresh Born", recorded by all and sundry, have been recorded and contributed back to the CASH Music website.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Roky Erickson sighting: Where the Pyramid meets Mogwai

I just think this is so cool: available digitally on September 9th, the new Mogwai EP will feature vocals on the closing track by none other than 13th Floor Elevator legend Roky Erickson. I cannot wait for this release!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

In defense of SUGAR

Have I mentioned how much I love love love the Hood Internet? I am always impressed when a project is able to straddle the intersection of theory and practice, and to do so seemlessly. The idea behind the Hood Internet, apparently, is that people no longer have time to listen to both hip-hop/R&B AND indie rock, so the two djs who are the Hood Internet have made it their mission to mash up the best and the worst of the two genres, and the results are nothing short of spectacular. Standout tracks for me were R Kelly/Broken Social Scene, Project Pat/Shout Out Louds, and the ABSOLUTELY FREAKIN' ASTOUNDING Common/Bloc Party track (courtesy of Dr. J). All tracks are freely available (through zShare, which can be an awful pain, unfortunately), and if you get a chance, suport the Hood by checking them out live at various music festivals.

I love my XO, and what One Laptop Per Child stands for. There has been a lot of talk recently about Sugar breaking away from OLPC, culminating in the recent foundation of Sugar Labs, and this can only be a good thing. For me personally, the Sugar interface presents an incredible shift away from the time-wasting and procrastination which have plagued my past endeavours. In a similar vein, I have been really impressed in the past with the simplicity of the operating system, if you would call it that, in the original Alphasmart word-processor. The Alphasmart has now evolved into the Dana, a cool word-processor designed for students, which runs PalmOS, but the original OS consisted of 8 buttons each representing a file. Click the button and start writing or editing. This leaves no scope for time-wasting. With Sugar, you benefit from a similar simplicity. When I open up my journal (the Sugar activity manager is called the journal), I see links to the last 10 activities I have been working on. More are available if I scroll down, but I rarely do, since, chances are, I want to resume one of these ten activities, even if I have no activity in mind when I turn the laptop on. When I complete an activity, for instance, by finishing up a document, I back it up on the SD card and remove it from the journal

Another innovation that raises the Hood Internet one level beyond is their use of photochoppery to enhance user experience: each audio mashup is accompanied by a visual mashup, showing the various artists hanging out, often in unusual circumstances. These images are offered for comic effect, but the effect is perfect, and well-executed and effortlessly ironic. I am myself a fan of the independent rock, however, I do find it often lacking in old-school Elvis-style libido, which, as Kurt Cobain taught us, rhymes with mosquito.

I can see the advantage to this for a child or a student or myself, as a writer; in my professional capacity, I have spent countless hours digging about for a particular document on Windows, but I deal with countless documents. When I am writing at home, however, I may have two or three documents in progress, but not more than this, and by being able to access "the last thing I was doing," quickly and efficiently, with no mucking around, I am saving time.

This is one reason I like Sugar, and one way it does something for me that Windows, or for that matter KDE or OSX, does not.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

NIN == PBS, The Future of Ideas

Okay, so I was working this weekend, so I didn't hear about the new Nine Inch Nails album until monday, so it was too late to drop $300 on the deluxe edition, if I was so inclined. Instead, I fell asleep on the sofa watching KCTS Cooks Breakfast. I have pledged to PBS a couple times, always at the lowest level, and always for the geeky Red Dwarf t-shirt. For the most part, however, I experience PBS without supporting PBS.

Free Stuff - Lawrence Lessig's The Future of Ideas has recently become available through a Creative Commons license - thank you Lawrence Lessig and Creative Commons, and thank you Random House for releasing the text from copyright. While The Future of Ideas may necessarily seem dated in places, it is evident from a rereading how pertinent these ideas still are, and how they have evolved from Code to Code v2; technologically, it is now the future, but the cultural spaces which Lessig continues to explore are much broader than the technologies supporting these spaces.

If I do download Ghosts I-IV, it will be the same situation; I will support it only with my eardrums, not my wallet. However, there are 2500 people who are supporting Nine Inch Nails at the "corporate level", and there $300 a pop adds up to a decent $750,000. Wow, thanks!

more free stuff - My broken iPod has been spinning the prerelease from the new Nada Surf album for months now. Lucky has now officially hit the shelves, and it delivers on the promise of "See these bones." The album is also available as a full album stream for a limited time, so you can get taste the whole, rather than the bite-sized morsels that even indie radio portion out. I'm curious, though; I remember REM promoting an album with a full album stream, and I remember Neil Young streaming his Living with War album, in this case, an act of protest. Streaming a full album enacts something different from releasing a single through the regular channels; I wonder if this act will lose its impact over time as the practice becomes more commonplace.

I think the future of music will be a movement in this direction, which is really just a realisation of the fact that some people are prepared to pay more than others, many people are prepared to carry around the long tail, and the majority of people are free to listen to the radio. And the people who are really driving this movement are the local bands, who have no reason not to give things away, and the NIN's and Radioheads, who can afford to do whatever they please, really.