February 19, 2009 - 23:18, by Dostalek, Kevin
I took a trip down memory lane this evening as I ran across a trove of old "Music Scene Newsletter's" called TraxWeekly that I had done some writing for in the mid-90s. You see back then the internet was just taking off-- we were in Web 1.0 not 2.0, so we didn't have things like blogs- we had these newsletters that were all text and would be distributed through FTP sites, IRC, BBS's, Newsgroups, and Email. I believe this particular one had a "circulation" of a bit under 1000, very low by today's RSS standards, but back then that was pretty good.
I came across one article I had written way back then and felt compelled to re-post it here because it struck me how close my thoughts of 15 years ago still ring true to my ears today. Obviously today the music references would be replaced with something else like social media, but it's spooky to "hear" myself speaking in the past about beliefs I still hold today. Note that because this newsletter was based around an IRC community (or "scene" as we used to call it) I went by my chat handle, Spyder.
--[5. Aesthetics of Composition and Music Groups]---------------
I've been having many recent conversations on #trax about the pros and cons of belonging to music groups and the philosophy about composition practices. Here I just want to express my views on the subject and hopefully generate some thought by the traxweekly readers.
When I first started tracking a year ago I thought that music groups were just a way for insecure trackers to make themselves feel more important. This was a gross overgeneralization, but to a new fish in the sea I guess it was my way of dealing with my own lack of confidence. No doubt, there are trackers out there that only join groups so they can put a /xxxx after their name, but I now believe that they are a minority. As I see it, the groups around today exist for two reasons: 1) promotion of music (via distribution) and 2) personal musical development of their members (via collaboration).
Someone asked me the other night "why do you need other people to listen to your music?" Some people might say "well thats why I compose!" The high and mighty would look down on this statement and say that you should compose to please others, but I take another angle on this statement. I think it is essential to SHARE music with others because its in our nature. A poet may keep a personal journal for his thoughts, but when he writes poetry he needs to share it with someone to get that "aesthetic experience". The danger here is that human nature leads us to seek acceptance, which can stifle creativity, but we should remember that its the SHARING that is important, not whether those you share with like your stuff or not.
Another good reason for sharing music is that you can get feedback from your peers on your work. Its your perogative whether to take their advice or not. There are many out there who scoff at music theory and thumb their noses at any criticism. This is too bad, because knowledge is power, no matter what you do with it. For example I can learn all about communism without becoming a communist, and I'd probably be a better democratic citizen for it. Same goes for music theory, the more you know the better off you are, even if you're one of those people who hates to "sound like everyone else".
The moral of the story (if you're still reading :) is don't be prejudiced towards people in music groups or toward people not in music groups... we're all friends! Share you music and listen to others music and tell them what you think (but don't flood my mailbox with all those tunes you never released because they were raw, heh). Learn as much as you can about music and create as many "aesthetic experiences" as you can for yourself and those you love.
November 24, 2008 - 10:42, by Dostalek, Kevin
Here's a fun little video that teaches the basics of Pointers in C. I love lo-tech/hi-concept productions!
The video was made by Nick Parlante, and you can find it and other supporting materials at the Standford CS Ed Library site
. Another series that I love that falls into this categoy is all the stuff at Common Craft
. Does anybody have other favorites in this particular genre?
November 16, 2008 - 21:07, by Dostalek, Kevin
I really like how the SeaDragon technology really makes a super responsive UI and the zoom transitions are so smooth (way better than like what you get in virtual earth or other map apps). But it got me thinking... beyond this type of deep exploration of a fairly static picutre, albeit a hyper-hires one, could this technology be used as some fundamental different way of navigating data (in more of a live/dynamic sense?) Perhaps it's the MS Surface team with all their talk about NUI's (Natural User Interface's) that has me thinking like this, but I'm presently trying to brainstorm other "uses" for this technology.
So beyond the kind of boring "data-object model" navigation on the fly, I'm thinking of something like this. Take one of my favorite old-school utilities, SpaceMonger, which looks like this:
This great app by the way, esentially displays the contents of your hard drive by visually representing the "space" that each item takes up so you can visually find the "mongering" size files. It let's you "dive" into subfolders to see more and more details-- but as you can see, the graphics are not all that sexy.
Now enter SilverLight DeepZoom. What if instead an app produced nice looking hi-res graphic outputs that were autostiched into a DZ browsable image? That would kick ass. And why stop there... let's go ahead and start back out at your network topology map, and let you zoom around and down INTO each server's or workstations HD?
Sounds cool, but obviously not trivial in work to produce. But mark my words-- someone will build the app described above within the next year or two, I guarantee it.
The areas around visualization of data is just now starting to pick up some serious steam with the new technologies available (driven concurrently with BI). What other cool ideas can we come up with?
October 7, 2008 - 02:43, by Dostalek, Kevin
The Ad Generator has been around for awhile, but I keep coming back to it as a tool to help dislodge my brain and make new connections and bring forth ideas.
Unfortunately, that wasn't really how or why this first generation mashup was created. It was created by taking real corporate slogans, putting them through a randomizer (real time), and then pairing them with pictures from Flickr that are taged with words from the random slogan (again in real time).
Certainly this juxtaposition explores how we attach meaning to words and pictures (and do so very quickly), but it also highlights how most advertising takes meaningful ideas and applies them to undifferentiated products and services seemingly on whims.
October 1, 2008 - 02:37, by Dostalek, Kevin
I wanted to share this promo video about the Carnegie Melon project Alice
for a couple reasons. One, that I think this is an important project in and of itself. This is our industry, which is projected to see significant challenges in having enough skilled professionals to meet the future demands and the Alice project is a very important and innovative solution to help turn the tide of the current trends.
The second reason I wanted to share this video is to get us thinking about how technology can be leveraged to help overcome other learning challenges people face. Strategies like minimizing frustration, utilizing storytelling and creation, simplifying the complex, connecting the known to the unknown, making the abstract more concrete, turning boring tasks into exciting experiences, etc... What skill do you think we could apply the "gameplay" metaphor on top of to change the world?