Germany's ID cards will have mandatory RFID chips beginning November 1. This is a bad idea.
A really thoughtful article addressing the proposed Muslim community center two and a half blocks from Ground Zero. There has been a lot of ink spilled about it, but this article is really good.
A really funny and insightful article from P.J. O'Rourke about spending a few days in Afghanistan. Obviously I don't agree with Mr. O'Rourke on everything, but his descriptions and interviews seem to be on point.
A really interesting presentation, in that animation style I love, about what enlightenment might mean in the 21st century.
An explanation of the real costs of copyright, by way of a recent example. A treasure trove of amazing original jazz recordings has surfaced, but will likely never be released for copyright reasons.
An incredibly interesting story of the last member of an uncontacted tribe in the Brazilian Amazon. He's been given 31 square miles to live in, but shot the last person who attempted contact in the chest with an arrow.
Over the last four days, the SoundCloud blog has posted a series of interviews with Creative Commons users on the site. I think they’re all interesting, and not just because I conducted three of the four of them. I was really floored, though, by the last one we ran, interviewing the musician and sample maker Stretta. Stretta really gets it.
Creative Commons in particular, and the free culture movement in general, sometimes get criticized for being a bit academic or legal, undervaluing the experience of actual creators. I don’t think that criticism has much merit, but the fact remains that many of the most prominent advocates of the movement are legal professors or software developers. I don’t mean to devalue the countless invaluable contributions to the community that have been made by artists, but only to say that their work is not always apparent to artists who are just becoming familiar with CC. I’ve fielded too many comments from struggling artists who think that Creative Commons is misguided and not in touch with artists, or worse, maliciously trying to exploit them.
Against this background, speaking to Stretta was a refreshing experience. He shares his creative process with his fans by soliciting comments on works in progress. Many of his final works are released under Creative Commons licenses. On top of that, he’s started a sample repository just to share some of the samples he’s created along the way, and licensed the whole collection under CC BY. Most importantly, though, the music that he makes is really good. One of his recent projects, A Funneled Stone, is created on modular synths, and has a really interesting and surprisingly organic feel.
The way he speaks about music push me from interested observer into real fan territory. Here he is explaining his choice to use CC, and praphrasing Tim O’Reilly:
Most of my newer finished tracks get a Creative Commons license, as the primary issue I’m struggling with isn’t exploitation, it is obscurity. I don’t know why unknown artists are so conditioned against exploitation of their work. That’s like the best thing that can happen to you. How many times have you seen a YouTube video and the comments are all people saying “who did the music? what music is this?” It is impossible to hide who made the music these days. Your music isn’t a limited resource. You’ll make more. That’s the easy part. Finding an audience is the hard part.
I love to hear that from somebody who is actually in the trenches, making music. Later he describes how important it is to actually take action:
Same goes for consumers who are indignant about RIAA lawsuits, take down notices and the corporate recording industry. Typing “Fuck the RIAA” on digg is an empty gesture. If you truly want to make a difference, the solution is right in front of you. Support independent music. Support artists who support Creative Commons.
That argument wouldn’t be out of place for a software developer to make (and in fact seems pretty similar to a sentiment about software and hardware expressed by Danny Pickle recently) but it’s still far too rare to hear it from an artist.
It should be pretty clear by now how taken I am with Stretta’s music and his take on the issues. There’s plenty of reasons to feel that way in the interview.
Last week at Drumbeat Berlin, I had the pleasure of seeing Gabriel Shalom present on a project called Junto. We discussed the project that evening and the next day, and agreed that we should each post our ideas on the new perspectives the Drumbeat audience provided. He put together a video blog post about it, and my (long) post is below.
I’m very proud to have been involved with SoundCloud’s major feature release today, which includes (among other awesome things, like a track tag explore page) deeper integration and support for Creative Commons licenses. Among the changes were the addition of prominent CC badges to track players, the development of a CC landing page, and the long-awaited introduction of advanced search–including, naturally, search-by-license-type.
I was also interviewed on the Creative Commons blog to talk about this latest move by SoundCloud.
I really think SoundCloud has what it takes to be the Flickr of audio, and their commitment to free culture and free software has been extremely commendable. (The site uses Flash, but has developed an experimental HTML5 player, as well as numerous other free software projects.) It’s really an exciting organization to be working with!
Der Spiegel has posted on their website an official English version of that article that I translated last week. Interesting to compare and contrast: the official translation is more confident (i.e. more willing to deviate from the original structures and phrases in order to improve flow) and consistent with tenses, but there aren’t any significant differences in meaning.