Thursday, February 28, 2008

Flier News: Vegan Advocates Assault!

Awesome Flier
Originally uploaded by Loganpoppy
This is easily the funniest flier I have read in years. I think you will agree that this piece of ephemera tells us one thing is certain: This generation of Vegans is kickass! Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Blu-ray victory means royalties, but perhaps not as many as you think!

It's kind of silly to even mention, but let's mention it otherwise. Sony won big this week as Blu-ray's victory means royalties, royalties, royalties for a company that had been on the losing end for a while now. It is no longer associated with personal sound playback devices (the iPod has made Walk and the Discman little more than ancient memories in the marketplace) and it is now in "third" behind Nintendo and Microsoft. Indeed, PS3, if anything, has finally won something significant: a standard war. I noted a couple of years ago that the PS3 was Sony's Trojan Horse for the new DVD standard and, yes, all of those players have seemed to have crept out of their shiny black encasements and killed any chance of Toshiba winning with its HD-DVD standard. Never mind that they had Microsoft's Xbox 360 on their side, if you wanted the HD-DVD player it was a $120 accessory, i.e. another substantial consumer choice and payment. If you bought the PS3, you got a severely discounted player in your machine and you didn't even have to think about it.

So, yes, this is classic "Razor and Blades", except in this case the winnings are, quite possibly, much more substantial since now everyone must buy the same blade (i.e. Wal Mart said you have to). The promise of future royalties is just that. In the US right now we are about to go through a mandated upgrade to TV that will flummox a good portion of the population. Predictions aside, in this economy fewer and fewer are willing to load a couple grand on their cards for a new widescreen so many of us, myself included, will be left with a 4/3 29 inch TV that has a digital adapter. I am certain my TV signal will look better, but not that much better that I will feel compelled to buy a new player and all of these new discs. Sony will see its royalties, but they will severely compromised and nothing like those seen by Toshiba and their DVD consortia in the 1990s. And the reason will be simple: it's the economy stupid. I just don't want to buy another copy of The Big Lebowski until I have to. And even then, when I have watched my storebought copy of the DVD on my dad's widescreen it looks just fine. In an atmosphere where homes seem to be foreclosed in new record rates, purchasing a new, expensive TV is one thing. Replacing my hundreds of DVDs, well, that's another thing altogether. So congrats to Sony for winning the battle... let's see if they can win the war.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Socially Adept and Immersed Already Thank You: Beginning to Make the Case for Popular Music Studies as a Means of Understanding Web 2.0

I am working in a very smart, interesting and relatively congenial department these days, which is also going through some identity issues, as are all telecommunication/media/mass comm departments. That old one-way media just isn't sexy anymore. I, myself, am suffering professionally as it seems jobs that once fit my description are becoming less and less so. Of course I have always published in odd areas where the issue of the "social" has always been placed at a premium. Studying what makes music popular means understanding how everyday intellectuals operate tactically with their everyday media environments to negotiate and produce everyday aesthetic expressions. In other words, how does an everyday person take the stereo systems, mics, guitars and CDs that they didn't necessarily produce and rearrange them for their own aesthetic expression? Most often they do this in groups and the means involves negotiating sets of social groups that change on the dime and conveniently dissolve when they are no longer useful. See "social media."

However, despite this fact when we say those two words many of us think point-to-point digital communication, which is both interesting and lazy. Interesting because as I blog this I am fully aware of digitals reach: it can reach far, internationally, transnationally, etc. It can reach my dad, my sister, my cousin, my enemy and a friend to be on the whim of a click or a google search. The cost of physical distribution and storage are zero dollaring themselves out. And, yes, I use them all. I use Pownce, Blogger, Facebooked and MySpaced, Goooglemapped, used various IMs and VOIPs. I have podcast, blogged, flickr'd, taught myself many We 2.0 basics and am learning more. It's not that hard and there are plenty more to come and go (average days of use for a new web 2.0 device is around 45 and then you move onto another, or so I have been told). And yes, I love them dearly because they were driven by cheap, user-oriented technologies that are designed bring groups of people together.

But this was exactly what I love about popular music. Note, I said music. Popular music has always been driven by cheap, user-oriented technologies that are designed to bring people together. Call it a dance floor, a party or even a "boomin system", a great popular music gathering was one designed to immerse you and engage people in a set of aesthetic expressions that they help alter and generate (dance, fashion anyone?). Can't anyone understand that so-called new media's sexiness is predicated on the very items that popular music culture is predicated on: sharing and alterating mass generated expressions in order to express one's unique distinct nature in a mass society? I mean, is it any wonder that the media industry most affected by Web 2.0 has been not only the music industry, but the one that media scholars understood the least?

This may be born out of frustration with the job market (where right now I am searching), but it is also generated by hearing claims claim that we have not studied this before in our field. These claims are often made by those who simply cannot make the connection between what many of them loved in their past youth and continue to love now or, because of professional biases, refuse to do so. It's frustrating. There is a literature of people utilizing these music techs for their purposes. And there is a literature to be written of how these new techs operate with people to generate not simply income but new aesthetic dimensions. There is a literature that can be written not simply drawing from sociology but a form or marginal media studies. An area of media studies that was marginalized precisely because with its many underground networks and home-grown talents it often openly worked to defy, with various levels of success, centralization and complete control. There is a lot of work to do here and I, for one, hope to do some of it.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

It's all the same damn sandwich!

You know I am busy when I haven't had much time to blog about much of anything. Lately I have been putting in 12 hour prep days as my new prep is a doozy (but I am having fun!!). I plan on blogging a bit more about my research soon, but I just wanted to make a note... I finally have proof that a Sub Sandwich is the same as a "Hoagie", a "Hero", a "Grinder", a "Po Boy" and a "Torpedo". There may be slight differences but let's just all admit it... they're all the same damn sandwich. See, here's proof. See...

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Local Music = Good Times

The pleasures of live music, indeed! The Randy's are one of those local bands that every city deserves. Extremely competent to excellent players, wonderful repertoire that ranges from the standards to 1970s rock, and great to dance to. Katie, my fiance', and myself have secured them for our wedding. Certainly the most expensive part of our wedding, but they will be the most fun aspect!

So last night we went to see them at the Rumba Cafe, danced a little and simply enjoyed the evening. Yes, this is hardly criticism, but I simply wanted to pimp one of the best bands you can see in my local area. And if you get them coming to your town, you could even take your parents, and even your grandparents, to them. Check em out!

For Super Bowl Sunday Consideration

Odds are I am going to watch the annual American TV Orgy known as the Super Bowl today (FYI, I am working on a house to sell and my beau's b-day is today so we are going out for dinner), but I will look forward to all of the water-co0ler breakdown in the week to come. That said, I loved this little ditty on the telestrator, one of the greatest inventions in sports TV style ever.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Cool Craftiness

Felted Heads
Originally uploaded by Loganpoppy
A friend of mine introduced me to the world of "felting" today. I guess you pole raw wool with a needle and form it into stuff. The picture is just a few examples of the numerous heads she has made and I think they are pretty great. The one in the middle reminds me of Steve Coogan's "Tommy Saxondale" character, from the series Saxondale (yes Ned, I finally got to them). Anyways, I thought some of you would appreciate them.

Air Afrique Ad

Air Afrique Ad
Originally uploaded by Loganpoppy
Lately I have been doing quite a bit of thinking on what I am dubbing the "Soul Economy", an economy that was devoted to empowering a black middle class that was distinctly African American in style. Not necessarily integrationist, but hardly segregationist, it was to be an economy devoted to a black middle class that was not simply integrated into accepting white middle class norms. For me the best and longest lasting expression of this is Soul Train, which is something I am dedicated to researching (particularly it's emergence in the early 1970s), but other black capitalist forms would fit into this as well (i.e. independent film and music ventures, hair care products dedicated to African-American style, black publishers, etc).

So far the best expression of this I have found in Ad form is this Air Afrique ad from 1971. The tagline, "Air Afrique. It's Black Owned, Black Operated and Beautiful" says everything. Here leisue travel is promoted as educational and, in the case, playing a double-duty role of supporting an emergent black capitalist enterprise. It's a clue among many and, I must admit, as I study this in tandem with the research that I am engaging on a post centralized music economy my head is spinning. We think we know so much more about cultural economies than we actually do...

Anyways, it's late and I will have more to say about this in the future. I hope...

Geek Night! It's Alright...

The OLPC Computer
Originally uploaded by Loganpoppy
Last night I attended my first Geek Night dinner in Bloomington, an event that happens every six weeks, and I will do all I can to attend the next one if I can. First of all it was a blast. Very relaxed with a number of the geeks, not necessarily myself, drinking rather large pitchers of Cerveza and talking Ruby on Rails, Ajax and VPN. I can follow somewhat, but mainly I just enjoyed the company. The highlights, no doubt, were the great people (thanks to Michelle, Felix, Bob and Gary!), but Felix broke out his OLPC computer and the room circled around him. I had planned to buy one last year, but I ran into some unexpected charges toward the end of the year so I am waiting until they put them back on the market.

From what I saw these where a real technological achievement and far more complex than what I could even imagine. I had seen enough video on them before their release to know that these were solid machines, but you have to see it to believe it. Unfortunately you can't just go into a Best Buy and touch one, which is a damn shame. For what most people use a computer for (wordprocessing, browsing, etc.) this is more than enough machine. And you can mount drives through its two USB ports and a place for an SD card. If you need mass storage, well, there you go. I don't think I will give up my laptop, but damn if I wouldn't want this for travel.