SoundCloud CC release

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!

UPDATED: Official translation of Der Spiegel article

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.

Paulstretch on Ubuntu 10.04

There’s been a lot of slowed-down action on the web in the past few days after a particularly hilarious slowed-down version of Justin Bieber’s “U Smile” generated over half a million plays on SoundCloud yesterday. Shamantis, the artist behind the recording, pulled off the hitherto considered impossible feat of making Bieber sound like Sigur Rós. The program Shamantis used is called Paul’s Extreme Sound Stretch–it’s a powerful (if not particularly multi-faceted) program that is capable of real-time playback of songs stretched to one million times their original length without affecting the pitch, effectively making an audio texture out of any track, clip, or sound.

Paulstretch, as the program is usually referred to, is written by a guy named Nasca Octavian Paul, and it’s free and released under the GPL. Naturally the source code is available, but Paul doesn’t compile GNU/Linux binaries, and compiling it on my Ubuntu 10.04 system was not totally trivial.

I was able to compile by installing all Fluid and all the libraries specified in the README, and by adding the line
#include <string.h> after the line
#include <string>
to the MP3InputS.h file, as was suggested in a help forum.

If you want to hear some of my efforts on it, I’ve uploaded a 800% slower version of the Sigur Rós song “Saeglopur” to SoundCloud.

Drumbeat Berlin tonight

If you’re in Berlin and interested in the open web, tonight’s Drumbeat event at Betahaus is not to be missed. The conversation kicks off at 7:30. Hope to see everybody there!

Google/Verizon, one week later

It’s been one week since Google and Verizon announced a policy framework proposal that would do away with traditional network neutrality in the mobile space and possibly prompt the establishment of a second “premium” internet. Apparently this proposal has touched some nerves, and there’s been a lot of great writing about it. Nearly everybody I’ve read is opposed to the framework, but there are a few interesting differences in their opposition.

  • Mike Masnick of Techdirt is mostly unimpressed. This proposal isn’t good, but it also isn’t binding, so we don’t have to worry too much about it. At the same time, the difference between present and earlier Google stances is stark and Googleable.
  • EFF has found something to be happy about in the proposed limits on FCC jurisdiction. They taken this stance for a long time now, which sometimes puts them at odds with other free culture groups.
  • Siva Vaidhyanathan on MSNBC, Ars Technica (twice), Public Knowledge, Lessig + Crawford (+ Wu) in the Mercury News, all seem pretty hard-pressed to find any redeeming factors, except maybe that the existing internet would stick around in some form.
  • Jonathan Zittrain has put up a thought-provoking post examining some fundamental ideas about net neutrality, and positing alternative economic models that could also preserve the generativity of a neutral network. He refers to a theoretical streaming video site from the future called SchmouTube, which might be a site on Jeff Jarvis’ schminternet, the name he bestows upon the proposal’s posited premium internet in an entertaining and insightful post.
  • Voogle Wireless is showing a campy 2006 PSA Google made promoting net neutrality, and providing resources and information on who to contact to express disagreement with this proposal.
  • And Wired wins the award for the funniest headline in one post, and has a good and slightly longer wrap-up of the same literature covered here in another. They were also the only ones I’ve seen who compare the premium internet to cable or satellite television, which was my first thought while reading the proposal, but then take it a thoughtful (and troubling) step further by asking if it might more resemble network television and syndication, which more or less ran the local stations off the air.

If there were more disagreement in the field, I’d be more inclined to jump in with my opinion here. I understand the EFF’s concerns about the FCC as a regulatory body for the internet, but I can’t think of a better solution. The thought of a premium and non-neutral internet alongside the regular internet doesn’t provoke a guttural reaction in me, but I don’t think it would be very successful. (Neither does Fred Benenson, who remembers that Verizon and YouTube had a deal that pre-dated real internet on phones.) And as many of the authors have pointed out, making less rigorous rules for mobile internet now is incredibly short-sighted, and doesn’t make sense.