Recent Personal Music Trends and Observations
Two songs in heavy rotation are both Hip Hop with R&B soloists. Grab the mp3‘s below (the addenda are all links to amazon if your interested)!
- Call the Law, Outkast ft. Janelle Monae, Idlewild, 2006
I’m hooked from the scatting in the beginning under the romping jazz piano, to the easy, on-story lyrics of Antwone, to the long-form evocative story that Janelle Monae twirls about marital strife.
- Coffee, Aesop Rock ft. John Darnielle, None Shall Pass, 2007 Aesop flips easily into a west coast style, rocking sick cadences and metaphors, though still not sure what his lyrics are about. But John evocative Donny Brasco-esque moodiness with his extended vocals. “1967, Colt 45″.
Runner Up: Guitar Albums
- Mambo Sinuendo, by Ry Cooder and Manuel Galban, 2003
Classy, vintage Cuba/surfer vibe done by two guitarist giants in the game. Manuel Galban played on Buena Vista Social Club, which Ry Cooder introduced to the public.
- Masada Guitars, by John Zorn, 2003
Some of the best contemporary guitarists: Bill Frisell, Tim Sparks and Marc Ribot, tear up compositions by John Zorn. I think every track is incredible. The only album that compares to this
- The Guitarist, by John Williams, 1998
Exotic tunes, including Greek compositions and rounding out with some mellow Satie, woven together to make a great album.
- Deviations, by Dominic Frasca, 2005
A true virtuoso playing in the Minimalist genre.
2nd Runner Up Trend: [Brazilian] Girl Bands
- Bond do Role
- Cansei de Ser Sexy
- Nouvelle Vague (they may be French, but they do Bossa Nova-ish covers)
- Yeah Yeah Yeahs (ok, also not Brazilian, but hott)
3rd Runner Up Trend: Male + Female Vocalists
The Data Paradigm
Like staring at a painting for too long, I’m not sure where this post is going, so I’ll just throw it out there as an index, and see if it leads to anything.
10 years ago we hailed the arrival of the Information Super Highway. Now, new technologies built on that infrastructure have increased information accessibility by an order of magnitude. The idea that in our lifetimes we had to search out information in physical libraries seems atavistic. Below I highlight some of the major trends in information consumption in the Geekdom.
Blogs > RSS
RSS has allowed push dissemination of content on the web. You can follow as many blogs as you like through a feed reader. I typically have over 1,000 unread posts in my Google Reader, due to the high quantity of blogs I follow.
For those who still are having trouble with the concept I suggest Common Crafts excellent video tutorial, RSS in Plain English.
The state of the art of RSS is advancing with innovations to help you deal with information overload such as Feed Scrub, with which you train your account to filter out posts you don’t want to read. I signed up for the beta, but until they create more advanced import and export options I won’t be trying it out (currently you have to import and export each feed individually).
Post Rank is another potentially interesting service which sieves your feeds for the most popular posts. It achieves this by looking at comment counts, tweets, clicks, bookmarks etc. And AideRSS integrates it effortlessly into online feed readers as a Firefox Extension or a Greasemonkey script. The interface is fugly, so I disabled it. Hopefully they’ll improve UI in future iterations.
Feeds of course, aren’t made by the magic feed fairy, one has to setup an RSS feed on their blog. Some blogs don’t have any feeds, or feed the wrong thing. Recently I’ve been ranting on Twitter about my new pet peeve, photo sites that don’t include the photos in their feeds. Enter Feed43 a web service that can create a feed from a webpage using regular expressions. Although it’s a bit daunting at first, anyone with mild geek-cred can get the hang of it after a couple shots. Check out the feeds I’ve created there.
This is the blogging short form that is hot right now. You are limited to 140 characters per “tweet”, which is what makes this service unique: brevity. A lot of people are supplementing their blog posts with numerous daily tweets. Like RSS, this is a push service, so all the twitterers whom you follow’s tweets show up on your Twitter page.
Twitter is a service that is extending what the language of the internet. Consider the innovations in semantics: @replies and #hashtags are meta-language characters that have grown organically in Twitter to facilitate tweet tracking.
An interesting thing about Twitter is the myriad ways it’s used. Some use it as communication channel to hold conversations with their friends. Others to give status updates (it can update Facebook status). Some to share cool things they’ve found. Others promote their services. Others use it as the ultimate knowledge base, and others as a newswire. Most use it for a bit of all of the above. I grab tons of information from my daily Twitter browsing on a range of topics such as politics, tech, finance and the lives and opinions of people I know and/or admire.
The number of technologies growing up around this platform are too numerous to go into, but a few of the interesting ones I’ve seen are Follow Cost, which allows you to evaluate the posting frequency and @ replies of someone before you follow them; Yammer, which is billed as twitter for project management; and Twinkle for iPhone, which grabs tweets from your current immediate surroundings (useful to have at an event).
A lot of people still don’t get Twitter, despite it’s popularity. If you want to learn more, again, I suggest again, Common Craft’s video Twitter in Plain English.
Possibly my most used iPhone app, Instapaper let’s you separate the long form articles you want to read later from the constant flow of byte size bits that you may consume fast and loose in your feed reader during breaks. In the past I would just skip things I didn’t have the time to invest in. Now I can just mark them to be downloaded to my iPhone, and read them on my commute.
Safari Web Clips, OSX Dashboard, iPhone apps, etc
And on and on and on… APIs mean you get the data any way someone can think up to serve it. Webclips and Dashboard widgets in OSX bring sites’ onto your mac effortlessly. The iPhone app store is creating a huge new marketplace for content providers. Even just checking your mail puts you in contact with data with (mandatory) RSS snippets at the top of the inbox.
Notorious for its opacity, government is starting to open up it’s doors. With “Open Obama” taking office, his commitment to transparency, apparently, is much more than lip service.
- Obama’s change.gov (now whitehouse.gov) & Citizens’ Briefing Book with it’s Digg model for voting up & down citizen commentary.
- The House, and the Senate on YouTube, where you can see videos by your Representatives, and their debates on the floor.
- OpenCongress.org, which allows you to vote up or down the popularity of bills, and features profiles of Representatives.
- USAspending.gov, that has an open API (arguably the true measure of transparency) to let people develop apps that have direct access to the data, as well as tons of downoads.
The paradigm is not only changing on a website level. With the explosion of social media sites like Facebook for friends, LinkedIn for careers, Delicious for bookmarks and Flickr for photos, the Internet is increasingly a place inhabited by people. You can learn frightening amounts of information about a person involved in social media. Indeed, most people are so tickled by the fact that we are writing our autobiographies in the cloud, they are ok with the security risk.
Information accessibility is a good thing no-doubt, but there are a couple of perils involved with this explosion of means. People putting out life feeds are ever more at risk of reputation damage, and even identity theft. You are only as safe as your least secure social media site. The recent twitter hackings during Mac World, where Steve Jobs was pronounced dead (classy), is just one example.
Consuming myriads of info through a single source also means credibility diminishes in importance. It’s tougher to distinguish which is the reputable news source with the branding gone. This contributes to info-tainment. People can’t trust their sources, and they don’t care.I think we’re at a strange point in the internet where it is simultaneously maturing into a platform, while simultaneously deteriorating the credibility/quality of information.
Is this thing on?