Archive for June, 2007

Unfinished notes on Richard Florida

The idea of Richard Floridas book The Rise of the Creative Class is: when production has moved to the third world, immaterial production and creativity is the prime value source for western societies, from scientists and programmers to artists and marketeers. The task is to create urban environments to attract this creative class, which involves for example large gay communities and lots of ethnic restaurants.

This is interesting because it means intellectual property. The computer industry, the entertainment industry and the bio industry. The big copyright and patent holders. You attract talented people, protect their work with strong IP-laws and watch them create.

But this is far from the truth. The name “Creative Industries” is devious. It sound like an industry that is creative, but in fact, it is an industry that uses creativity as its raw material. So creativity is actually created in an environment external to the creative industries and in an environment much more characterized by free sharing than pleas for stronger IP laws. It’s hard to find a word for these evironments. The underground, independents, the internets, kopimists have all been used. Choose one. I choose kopimists.

The relation between the creative industries and the kopimists might seem like a fair deal. The kopimists gets resources to create and attention and the industry gets trust, authenticity. And maybe it can be. But copyright can destroy that by suffocating the free sharing.

It’s usually not the kopimists that benefit from the creativity, but the so called creative industries that uses this creativity as raw material. The creative class can make a living of administrating creativity, but the kopimists often live under more precarious conditions with welfare, student loans or extra jobs. Creating preconditions for this kind of class requires a different strategy to the one of Richard Florida.

Adam Arvidsson concludes an article like this:

Could a creative proletariat on welfare be conceived as a sort of publicly funded immaterial externality, that is valorized either through its appropriation by the culture industries, or more indirectly, through its contribution to the urban gentrification processes that are a key driver behind real estate prices?

June 9, 2007 at 3:42 pm 6 comments

Rhythmic Information

The cultural critique model of originality vs. standardisation, is the wrong way of viewing culture. Variations on standard themes function as social objects to foster connections to populated worlds and networks. In the case of originality it’s just you, the music and maybe the author. This conflict between individuality and standardisation is a 20th century view of things. As all divisions of that kind it is solved by the network.

Recorded music today can mobilize attention, but not much more if it doesn’t connect you to networks. But the quest for authenticity as a response to this is fading away. Perhaps we value music (and why not informaiton in general) higher than ever today. What has happened instead is that the rate by with this value decreases over time has rapidly increased. That also explains why people are so reluctant to buying information goods (music, film whatever). Not because they don’t value it enough, but because the price/value relation over time has shifted, and the price per day of use has increased rapidly.

So culture today has the ability to “provide a meaningful and coherent world view“, but only for a split second. The problem is rather a question of trust than value. You can’t trust people to stick to a certain kind of music, brand, subculture, friends, career, value and so on. Its always a question of time and memory rather than space and value.

Culture is not white (machine) noise below our threshold of attention. It’s filled with peeks and glitches, rapidly going from zero to maximum value and back. Dare I say that culture is binary?

This is why blogs fit so well with our times. You can read a piece of information and write the blog post when you are in the “wow, this changes our entire way of perceiving the world”-mode, instead of having to wait until the day after when the informaiton doesn’t seem that important any more. When new posts arrive, this previously world-shattering post quickly recedes into the background and when you find it a few weeks later you wonder what you actually meant by it.

Traditional analogue synthesizer dynamic envelopes have four stages:
Attack (the time it takes to reach maximum level)
Decay (The time it takes from the maximum level to reach sustain level)
Sustain (A level constant as long as the key is pressed)
Release (the time it takes from the sustain level to reach zero from when the key is released)


Our information volume is turn up to the max with a very short attack, a very short decay, a low sustain value and but a long release (Once it’s on the net it never really disappear). The musical equivalent of our information is some kind of rhythmic instrument, the equivalent of modernisation a trumpet (high volume, short attack, short decay, high sustain level and no release), and the classic era a violin (slow attack, short decay, medium sustain value and long release)

Question: How can this dynamics of information over time be altered?

June 9, 2007 at 12:00 pm 1 comment

Sound Days

Det här är ungefär vad jag pratade om på Sound Days i Köpenhamn idag. En (inte direkt välbesökt) träff där företag, institutioner och studenter träffades kring utvecklingen av ljud och musik i Öresundsregionen.


I’m not going to bore you with talking for or against file-sharing or the future of copyright, nor entertain you with stories from the raid on The Pirate Bay. You’ve heard all that before.The debate over the right or wrong of file-sharing is passé in a lot of ways. Even for the record industry, they seem to have stopped focusing solely on preventing piracy and are trying at least to innovate. They try to understand the climate of free sharing of information and how they can intervene in that and attract people somewhere where they can extract money. They might fight piracy, maybe harder than ever, but not even they believe thing can go back to what it was before any more.

So today I’m going to talk about the digital contexts and practices where sound and music are situated today.

But over the years we have had lots of people who think file-sharing destroyed music and its value. And maybe the Internet did destroyed music to the degree that only happy amateurs will be left. It’s a fair concern.
Perhaps the copyright economy of the 20th century was the best infrastructure for cultural production. But then again, maybe ancient Greece or Germany of the romantic era was as well. The point is these concerns always come to late.

We have an expression: “The files have already been downloaded”. People already have massive archives, the circulation of culture is already on. Anything that the internet will do to our relation to music is already under way and it’s irreversible. It’s not only due to file-sharing but the general accessibility of free music today. On the web, on TV, in phones, in stores, on the street. Free music today is a fact.

One thing this does is to decrease the value on music-as-such. When you can access music anywhere, anytime while doing whatever, the value of each piece of music is decreased. A new sound, a new song or a new style of music will not change entire generations like it has done many times over the last century.

So people start to desire music that can not be heard any time, anywhere.
Statistics from the Danish collecting societies show that turnovers for concerts and festivals have gone up by the same amount as record sales has gone down. More managers and artists start to regard recorded music as just a way to market performances, where the real money are. This is of course nothing new. Performance has been regarded as the way to make money on music up until the CD came into the picture.

Unfortunately, to the copyright industry and many politicians, recordings are all that matter.

But what we have here is not simply a return of living music on behalf of the dead recorded objects. What people like about live performances; that it’s a real-time experience; that it establishes a connection to people sharing similar taste; and that it’s an experience you take part in creating, can also be observed in how people relate to music on the net. Technology can make recorded objects come alive.

We can see it in services like; in creation of playlists; tagging, rating and sharing music and how people form communities around music. Consumption takes over certain performative aspects.

So is this good for music? I don’t know.
One thing it does is put the music itself in a secondary position, that can lead both to a more active and a more passive relation to music.

A common behaviour is: make a playlist with credible artists, hit play, leave for a couple of hours, return and have an updated profile with more credible artists rising to the top of the chart. This is music without listeners.

Think also of a techno club where music listening has a secondary position. Music here works as a tool to generate almost physical affects. Techno music wants to grab the attention of your nervous system and only barely consciously pass through your ears.

This role of music as an attention grabber or a social object will be influential both culturally and economically. You encounter music, it grabs your attention and through the object of music you can connect to other people, brands, networks, goods and services. This can both be used to create exciting contexts around music and music interaction but also to abuse music as only a function in a marketing scheme.

So what we need to explore today is not so much the right/wrong and legal/illegal of sharing of information, but how different platforms, interfaces and practices of sharing foster different kinds of relations and attentions to sound and music. And here we have lots more to discover.


…Och visst utforskades detta av de många projekt som visades upp. De flesta kretsade kring nya gränssnitt för att skapa, experimentera, leka och uppleva ljud och musik.

Besvikelsen var istället den debatt som Peter deltog i om framtidens musikdistribution. Vists fanns viljan till kreativt tänkande där, men det var frustrerande fast i gamla perspektiv. Debatten fick mig att skapa detta som jag nog får anledning att återkomma till och utveckla:

En liten ordlista för musikbranschen.
Ersätt – med:
Konsument – Användare
Distribution – Kommunikation
Produkter – Sociala objekt
Branscher – Nätverk
Subkulturer – Sociala markörer
Redaktörer – Metadata
Verk – Upplevelse
Pengar – Tid

June 8, 2007 at 6:19 pm 4 comments

Too Short on Information

I’ve often encountered TV-crews having a hard time visualizing what goes on in the net and how information is shared and I’ve been thinking of how the communication of today can be fictionalized in video. Apart from ideas about animations making information visible, I would like to see someone do with our digital times what Chaplin did to modernization. A remake of these film would be interesting. What others?

Modern Times 2.0: Can digitalization of communication be portrayed as absurdly as Chaplin conceived mechanization?
The Great Dictator 2.0: Where is the seductive political voice of todays digital communication and where is the mute resistance?

I’ve started to really enjoy Jaiku after a bit of skepticism in the beginning. I find it to be an IRC for a non-IRC generation (I’ve given up trying to get people to come there). IRC is a bit more fleeting and flexible, but Jaiku fixes IRCs reliability problems. Also it’s more centered around a given social object, micro-blogging what you’re up to, which prevents the information flow from stalling. There is a constant rhythm to the information flow that allows you to easily tap in to it.

I like both IRC and Jaiku because they take into account the fact that information value decreases over time (today). When I’ve taken part in discussion on wikis for example, it’s hard to know what information you should act upon. They tend to gather a lot of waste products. But with IRC, Jaiku and blogs I know which is the latest development and what information is passé.

But not all information has its value decreased in the same rate. It’s interesting to analyze communication platforms by comparing the diminishing value of information over time to diminishing attention of that information over time. On this blog, some posts disappear too quickly from the front page and some tend to stick too long. However I can re-actualize information by linking to it in a later post. So blogs have information whose value decreases over time but it’s not linear. On Jaiku it is, but that information is deeply connected to the linear time of everyday work and leisure, so there is less point in re-actualizing it. What platforms can be built with a more dynamic decreasing and increasing of attention and value of information?

June 7, 2007 at 11:16 am 6 comments


Vi har tidigare talat om ett skifte där 68-generationens kulturkritik har ersatts av ett hacker-tänkande som genom innovation och ingrepp förändrar systemet inifrån. Detta skifte har förklarats med att nya teknologier har använts som modell för tänkandet. Den klassiska kulturkritiken bygger på ett motor-tänkande (och massmedietänkande) medan det nya tänkandet bygger på modeller från datornätverken.

Den kris för den klassiska kulturkritiken vi ser idag är bara slutet på ett uppbrott som började långt tidigare, enligt Kittler med skriftmonopolets separation i visuella, akustiska och textbaserade flöden. Litteraturkritiken, med litteraturen själv, lever idag som odöd i ett oändligt slut.

Litteraturkritiken har sedan skriftmonopolets fall tappat sin ursprungliga funktion och tvingas därför ömsa teoretiskt skinn flera gånger. Feminism, postkolonialism, konsumtionskritik osv. har tjänat som nya teoretiska skepnader för samma kritiska tänkande, som än idag fortsätter i våra skriftliga medier och gränssnitt.

Inte minst i Sverige, som i mycket följt USA i mottagandet av moderna teorier, har denna kritik haft en extra stark ställning. Här har t.ex. en sådan som Foucault helt infogats i denna kritik, medan han i Tyskland (med Kittlers hjälp) fått ett helt annat mottagande, samma sak med Derrida.

Från förordet till Kittlers Discourse Networks:

“Rather than breaking new ground, the hermeneutic turn on the 1960′s appears from Kittler’s perspective to be a restabilization, a defensive shield that protects the inherited discourse network against social and cultural mutations threatening to render hermeneutics obsolete.”
/David Wellbery. Foreword to Friedrich Kittler, Discourse Networks, 1800/1900 S. xi

Istället för att vi idag ersatt text-fokuseringen men något annat kan man säga att vår uppfattning om text som förändrats. Vad text är, hur vi läser den och hur den kan manipuleras.

Språket underkastas ett helt nytt medium med en oöverträffad hastighet och manipulerbarhet. Språket blir både data i, och instruktioner till, ett datorprogram, samt ett av många gränssnitt med vilket man kan få information om den universella beräkningsmaskinens uträkningar och som sådant påverkas våra tankar av det nya skrivdonet.

Varifrån kommer den här viljan att använda teknikens koncept som modell? Enligt Heidegger är teknikens väsen inte de tekniska objekten i sig utan på det sättet de avslöjar verkligheten. Om de mekaniska maskinen avtäckte verkligheten som resurs, där den mänskliga kroppen blir en energiresurs är det nu vår kommunikation som blir teknologisk.

Jag föreställer mig att kommunikationen i ett klimat av det här slaget blir lika matematisk som programmeringsspråken. Vilket öppnar för å ena sidan isolering i kolumner och rader, fragmentering i mikro-nischer, och å andra sidan multiplicering och andra logiska operationer för att koppla samman information och kommunikation.

Språket blir kvantifierbart och instrumentellt – bara till för att ge effekter och resultat, tillföra något, förmedla något. Ingen separation mellan uttryck och idé, vad som uttrycks tolkas bokstavligen. Det finns ingen möjlighet att erbjuda något men förvänta sig att erbjudandet inte ska godtas, alltså ingen etik.

Språket exekveras likt ett datorprogram, det framförs utan fördröjning. Vid första punkt av icke-förståelse avbryts läsningen och nästa text påbörjas. Inte heller den fördröjning som möjliggör tolkning finns kvar i det snabba medielandskapet. Idag har man inte tid att tolka information, bara sortera. Texter blir post-hermeneutiska och binära. Antingen förstås de direkt eller så skippas det. Likt ett datorprogram som avbryter läsningen vid varje svårighet.

Vad som återstår då för att få en kontinuitet är ett slags objekt-orienterat språk. Hypertextens länkande språk som återanvänder texter och refererar utåt. Sätter små, separata utsagor i kontexter. En text som aldrig är innesluten i sig själv. Ett språk kommenterar och återinför texter i ett distribuerat språkspel.

Men ändå återstår det en sista hermeneutik, en sista litteraturvetenskap där tolkningen vänds mot sig själv och tolkar sin egen omöjlighet. Friedrich Kittler utnämner sig till den siste litteraturvetaren och avslöjar tolkningens mediateknologiska bakgrund och dess omöjlighet att överleva som annat än levande död i det nuvarande nedskrivningssystemet.

Den nya kritiken etablerar inte en diskurs från vilken den utgår utan skapar snarare ett kopplingsschema för sammanfogande och isärplockande av diskurser och system. Inte i syfte att vederlägga strukturer utan att genom själva belysandet av dem öppna nya möjligheter. En kulturkritik kan skapas som inte bygger på en universell måttstock utan som fokuserar på HUR det tillgängliggörs. Varför tillgängliggjordes detta och inte något annat, och varför på detta sätt? En kritik som fattas utifrån och tolkar nedskrivningssystemet som ett historiskt begränsat fenomen istället för att inifrån försöka uttolka en mening.

Detta är sådant som den traditionella tolkningen inte kan komma åt eftersom den bara arbetar med det utsagda och inte utsägandet självt eller det inte-ännu-sagda.

June 3, 2007 at 4:34 pm 1 comment


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