19 October 2007

Typopolis Coming Into Its Own

Well that special date has almost arrived, people! Typopolis is live and crazy and nearly bug-free (nearly). Tom Gillis, Timmi Oyen, and I have been working tirelessly these past months to make it happen and our hard work is nearly ready to pay off. There's a launch party tomorrow night and then one week hence. Those in Chicago wishing to be invited are free to plead with me but the guest lists are already pretty much nailed down.

For those who haven't heard, Typopolis is a new social networking website where users can share their book interests and also have in-depth conversations with other users about books, about reading, about life. It picks up where other social networks have left off by offering the tools for users to not just review books, but to discuss specific passages and collectively analyze these for academic reasons or just for fun. You can establish online book groups or fly solo, and you can even meet people in your area who like the same books as you.

As we approach the launch party season for us, I'm excited to say that the site is live and ready to upgrade from "alpha" to "beta" release. Very exciting! We've been working on this thing for nearly a year on a shoestring budget, and it's up there for everyone to see.

So! If you want to be invited, email me and I'll pass you one of my many invitation codes. 

11 October 2007

The Twitter Monster Cometh

Yeah yeah yeah. I was one of those twitter haters initially. I was. It seemed like a solution lacking a problem when I first looked at it.

Now that there are more people on it, and more people are leveraging it to do interesting things, I've changed my tune quite drastically the past couple of weeks. So much so, in fact, that I have now started twittering as well, at twitter.com/villainous. Yes. I am Villainous. Sorry Brandon :-P.

If you've got Twitter, add me to your watchlist so you can see updates on all the kinds of villainy I'm up to these days. There will be updates about my various projects up there and possibly some random little thoughts. Should be a great time. Or if you don't care, that's awesome too. It's Twitter, after all.

Stay tuned, space cadets.

08 October 2007

Playing the Radio At Work Counts as "Public Performance"

I heard tell that in Scotland at least playing your radio at work is now grounds for getting sued. When did this happen? When did we, as a society, decide that our courts had so much time on their hands that they could try completely nonsensical bullshit like this? Oh yeah and the motion for dismissal was denied. Seriously, people. Seriously. This is happening?

The music industries woes are really just the aftershocks of a revolution that's already come. The forces they're reeling from have already permanently changed the face of the world that they're living in. They just haven't gotten that memo yet.

Dear RIAA, CRIA, PRS, et al:

I'm sorry your business model is outdated and no longer relevant in the world that we live in today, but you had decades to see it coming (MPEG Layer 3 audio became an ISO standard in 1991, but was invented in the 1980s; for those who are really crazy about these things, the research that led to its inception was completed in 1979). Napster may have been a threat to your business but it was a sign that the tide was turning and that you needed to change your approach. Instead you tightened your grip as more and more sand escaped your fingers.

Now the opportunity to innovate has passed. That call has already been answered by the pirates, and they've won only because you've refused to change how you do things. Why should I pay for a CD when I get less for my trouble, and the free alternative is not only more readily available but also superiour?

I feel the worst for the artists, because they're taking it in the shorts for this. I'm not saying that they're starving because despite all their complaining they're clearly well taken care of (Britney could use a new stylist and life counsellor though... that girl's seen better times). I am merely saying that it's not their fault either that the music industry's business model is trapped in the eighties (actually... let's be honest here: the 1930s).

I will not pay for music twice. I will not repurchase it just to have it in another medium or another format. I will not pay extra to be able to play my music whenever and wherever I please. Because it's mine. I paid for it and it's mine, and if we're talking about information—be it analogue or digital—there are no limits, no chains you can place on it, that will prevent me from exercising my right of fair use. I will enable others to do so, too.

Listen. It's not that "information wants to be free" or any other such anarchist bullshit. It's simply a matter of free market economics. The RIAA and friends have failed at their purpose: to regulate the distribution of musical recordings. Musicians deserve to be compensated for their work if I'm enjoying it, and I gladly pay for the music that I listen to because I enjoy it. But in this Age of Information everywhere I look I'm seeing fewer and fewer walls, fewer and fewer traps in my way, fewer and fewer limits on what can be done—except in the music industry. I'm saying that's crap and if their new business model is to only profit from suing people, then their days of extortion are numbered.

If this is incoherent babbling then forgive me, space cadets, as I'm tired. I sleep now.

07 October 2007

Weird Dreams, the New Chemical Brothers Album, and Craziness

I've been having the weirdest dreams lately, which is odd for me because I usually don't remember my dreams. Anyways they've been wild recently.... A sample, if you will....

A few nights ago, I dreamt that I was in my sister's apartment, and she'd filled her kitchen sink with saltwater. There were these weird scallops swimming around in her sink. They were like ordinary scallops but with these red gelatinous growths on their sides. Really weird. Anyway one of them swam up through the water into the air towards me and I reached out towards it. It opened and this tiny red squid, maybe five inches long, emerged from its shell towards me. I reached out one of my fingers and its tentacles wrapped around it. I felt it bite me and I thought that was rather rude of it, then I woke up.

Another dream. I dreamt last night that I was on the beach with a bunch of my friends in Santa Cruz, and one of them placed a tiny white crab on my shoulder. It made me nervous but I didn't shake it off until I got back to my apartment, in Chicago, somehow. The crab extended its claws and I got antsy and threw it off my shoulder, where it clinked against my counter then my floor just like a quarter that's landed on its side. It landed on my kitchen floor and remained perfectly motionless for a while. As I stood there, though, the crab became more and more agitated, more and more angry. As it became more and more angry, more and more things began to unfold out of its carapace. First claws, then a bigger carapace, then eventually wings then a second set of wings. It charged at me a couple of times, then when it grew wings it flew right at me and I dodged it right as I woke up.

I dunno what's up with me lately. I keep drawing mollusks and crustaceans in my little notebooks. Squids and crabs and lobsters and bees abound in my notebooks. It's really weird. I have no idea what's going on with me. Doodling in my notebooks constantly I guess gives me some insight as to what's going on in there, but it's still so hard to interpret. Earlier tonight, at the bar, I randomly took out a piece of paper and drew a squid on it; I don't know why. Mebbe something crazy's going on up in my subconscious. Who knows. Still. It's very weird.

In unrelated news, I am thoroughly loving the new Chemical Brothers album, We Are the Night. The title track especially is just unbelievably amazing. So are "Burst Generator" and "Do It Again". I don't even have words to describe how well put together this album is. Even the duller moments of the album serve as the perfect time to recuperate between melt-your-face amazing tracks. I don't know how they can still be producing this kind of quality work after all these years, but they are. It warms my heart to know it.

Ok. I've just been out "for the duration" at Estelle's, so I should probably get some sleep. Later, space cadets.