Lloyd Duhon (radioastro) Tue 8 Jan 08 04:47
"It might be that in cheerier times public attention goes and finds musicians." Perhaps. However, the public seemed to embrace music heavily in the Vietnam era, and that was hardly a cheery time for our nation. Music from that time really speaks to the clash of culture that was occurring. My belief about music and art in general is that it is becoming more personal in nature. It's a cyclic thing where we are going back to a more traditional artist <--> fan relationship. Years of integration have changed the definition of a success from "an artist pleases his fan base" to "An artist is successful if they sell a million copies of something". I think it's headed back in the other direction now. Artists are able to reach their fans directly now, and judge their success by the effect that they have on their fans. Perhaps that is why some of the above referenced artists seem more cult like? Before the Internet, they could have been successful to a very local (geographic) crowd at a pub somewhere. Today they can be successful to a very local (musical interest) crowd at a website somewhere. If that feeds the artist, and perhaps a small ecosystem around him, you've got the best of both worlds, a commune like cultural gathering and a commercial success, all rolled into one convenient URL.
Bruce Sterling (bruces) Tue 8 Jan 08 04:54
"What's your take on this Bruce? How do you think the internet will affect news and the way people consume it? Do you think people will be more or less informed?" *Y'know, I once heard it said about the Internet that "the architectural is political," and as soon as I heard that, I thought, yeah: these seemingly arcane technical decisions are not value-neutral, they really have consequence. It would be a good idea if I spent a lot of energy studying these. *That was quite a while ago; nowadays every graduate with an MBA ggets it about hacking intellectual property, knifing the baby, cutting off the oxygen and busting up the value chain. So we have a rather cruel and decadent Internet now, full of barbed-wire, pirates and spammers, but at least that put the kibosh on the notion that the Internet is some kind of lucent immaterial cyberspatial noosphere. *I also heard it said -- by the same guy, I think -- that "Point of view is worth 80 IQ points." Which means to say that informing people more doesn't necessarily help their situation. *When I visited Russia, I used to ask people, in my harmless, blinky-eyed, American-journalist way -- "what seems to be the problem here?" And I was amazed by the sophistication of the responses that poured out of them. Of course they knew their country wasn't a "normal country" -- the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics wasn't even a country, it was supposed to be some weird Marxist melange of soviets and republics -- but I was stunned how "well-informed" they were. They hadn't been "kept in the dark" -- they were all "enlightened." Really, they had conspiracy theories that made the most vigorous American conspiracy theories look like a pile of children's blocks. It was incredible how thoroughly and footnoted these ideas were, they were like private theologies. But I never found two Russians with the same weltanschauung. They'd garnered up amazing idiosyncratic cobbled and mosaic'ed worldviews, they were scholarly, deeply read and very thoughtful, but, frankly, they were so well-informed they were helpless. REALLY helpless -- like, seven Russians couldn't divide themselves up into two taxis. If there's an American equivalent to these cerebral Russians -- I dunno. Maybe Ron Paul enthusiasts. I never met two of 'em who wanted to vote for Ron Paul for the same reason. Paulists are brimming over with heartfelt conviction at the same moment that they lack any practical plan for governance. I mean, Ron Paul is a Texan crank extremist who makes even Mike Huckabee, a Baptist preacher from Arkansas, look with-it and street-level. Ron Paul is the kind of utterly unworldly guy whom, if you found him drunk in a Russian bar, you'd try to help him home because he was so likely to freeze to death. These Paulunteers are way Russian because they are Internet hacker trivia freaks. They're incredibly "well-informed," yet they're so poorly-socialized that their lack of common-sense inspires pity. I dunno what to conclude from this; except that the Russians finally found their savior. They got their Franklin Roosevelt. He's kind of a dictator, and he'd poison a man with polonium, or break up an opposition party or newspaper, the way you or I would blow out a burnt match. The Russians are finally united -- in the conviction that this Putin guy is just tops. Their doubts and qualms are resolved and they believe they're swimming in chocolate. Go figure.
Steve Bjerklie (stevebj) Tue 8 Jan 08 04:55
>>>"It might be that in cheerier times public attention goes and finds musicians."<<< Heh. The cheery Kennedy years -- "Camelot" -- produced some of the worst pop music ever recorded. The oppressive Boss Pendergast era in Kansas City was a time of some of the best jazz ever. The Reagan era? The period when rap and hip-hop was in amazing ferment. The relationship between a political administration and what's going on in popular music is tenuous, if it exists at all. You give too much credit to Bush, <bruces>.
Lloyd Duhon (radioastro) Tue 8 Jan 08 05:02
"Not at all - not sure how I gave that impression." You didn't give a negative impression. I was unsure which direction you were taking the point, so I asked for clarification purposes only. My faulty communication there, I was too brief in my question. I believe that this is the best direction artists could go in. It both widens and deepens the playing field, allowing many new forms of artistic expression to reach the audience that would gain enjoyment from it. It will be interesting to continue watch the myriad changes coming from all of these disruptions in the business models for creative industries over the next few years.
Bruce Sterling (bruces) Tue 8 Jan 08 06:48
>>>"It might be that in cheerier times public attention goes and finds musicians."<<< Heh. The cheery Kennedy years -- "Camelot" -- produced some of the worst pop music ever recorded. The oppressive Boss Pendergast era in Kansas City was a time of some of the best jazz ever. The Reagan era? The period when rap and hip-hop was in amazing ferment. The relationship between a political administration and what's going on in popular music is tenuous, if it exists at all. You give too much credit to Bush, <bruces>. *Well, could be; I'd never claim there was a meatgrinder crank for producing human creativity. I can't even tell when I'm gonna write a short story. About the one thing I can tell you is that the spavined mechanics of short-story marketing and distribution systems don't have much to do with it. *Maybe we'll get brilliant political leadership in the next four years (as if) and yet popular music will vanish from the face of the earth. It'll be back to playing banjos on the front porch for the delectation of our friends. *Can anyone confirm for me that the son of Sarkozy is a French hip-hop producer? If so, what with him and Carla Bruni, that's quite the musical family... at least as presidential right-wingers go.
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Tue 8 Jan 08 06:57
"The Russians are finally united -- in the conviction that this Putin guy is just tops. Their doubts and qualms are resolved and they believe they're swimming in chocolate." When you're thrown into complete chaos for a while, I suppose you can take the polonium with the chocolate and breathe a sigh of relief that somebody's got your back. To those he protects, the godfather is part god, part father. 30 years ago, I would've sneered dismissal at this sort of fealty as "undemocratic." Now I know that "democracy" is impractical, probably impossible. It's comforting to believe that some guy is making viable decisions, even if he's deeply flawed. We'll accept "honest graft," but when the leader's draining the coffers and breaching communal ethics, that's another story. (#105 slipped in while I was posting.)
Scott MacFarlane (s-macfarlane) Tue 8 Jan 08 08:50
*Y'know, that was just great. I enjoyed that. I admit cheerily that I was conflating, while s-mcfarlane there was disambiguating... Kinda the systole and diastole of historical analysis, really. Hey, I try to stay cheery, meself, Bruce. My blood pressure won't go up a tick, so long as you don't obviate those hairshirted greenies. ;=)
Scott MacFarlane (s-macfarlane) Tue 8 Jan 08 13:15
<< (from Neal Soldofsky) When I said that the internet was too difficult to control, I meant that if anyone made moves to limit what was great about it, specifically the way it empowers people to distribute their own media, people would freak out in a major way. I swear, there would be riots. It'd be like trying to ban rock music. The kids would shit. I'm sure that most ISP's have the ambition to ruin the internet, and that plenty of politicians would consider letting them, but the kind of public outcry you'd get would be too much. It's one thing to screw with people's environment and country, it's another thing the screw with their entertainment. And as the internet's importance in the realm of popular entertainment grows, it's only going to get harder.>> Sadly, I think your prediction is accurate here, Neal. Bush can lock people up for six years and deny them Habeas Corpus or any due process of law; start a war under dubious pretenses that is now lasting nearly a long as WWI & WWII combined; sanction more media consolidation of those with the resources to fully report the "news"; allow his neocon "base" of military-industrial supporters to plunder our treasury; sanction unprecedented government spying on our own people, but the level of protest is relatively minimal. But screw with our internet entertainment and wholesale rioting will result. Entertainment has become the absorptive panacea for individual apathy and alienation. Talk about the numbed indifference of our postmodern condition.
Steve Bjerklie (stevebj) Tue 8 Jan 08 13:31
(>>>now lasting nearly a long as WWI & WWII combined<<< In terms of U.S. involvement in those wars -- 1917-18, 1941-45 -- yes. In terms of the actual wars, not yet -- 1914-1918, 1939-1945.)
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Tue 8 Jan 08 15:01
boing boing readers are commenting on our conversation at http://www.boingboing.net/2008/01/03/bruce-sterling-publi.html, if anyone here wants to comment on their comments. I love the anonymoose who says this is all "boring cliches, nothing useful." "Bush can lock people up [etc].... But screw with our internet entertainment and wholesale rioting will result. Entertainment has become the absorptive panacea for individual apathy and alienation." I think you're overstating your conclusion... I'm not seeing apathy and alienation. I'm seeing real outrage, even among Republicans. On the other hand, there may be Forces at work that are beyond the politics of nations... it's not clear to me that any amount of activism at mere mortal/citizen level can make a huge difference. Eager to see what happens over the next 12-15 months.
Scott MacFarlane (s-macfarlane) Tue 8 Jan 08 15:22
<there may be Forces at work that are beyond the politics of nations... it's not clear to me that any amount of activism at mere mortal/citizen level can make a huge difference.> There are definitely forces at work beyond the politics of nations...follow the money trail. I agree with you that, at the individual level, we are largely irrelevant, hence the apathy and alienation (which may or may not be overstated). I guess this leads us to the earlier points made by Bruce that, to solve our major global problems/crises, the scale of the solutions will be huge and need to be delivered quickly. Unless it's perceived to be in the interest of the powerful nation-states and multi-national corporations to affect such change, we will be in a heap of trouble when that day comes.
Bruce Sterling (bruces) Wed 9 Jan 08 00:45
Well, after a calm week of the holidays, Torino is jolting back to giddy life. I'm posting this on hired wi-fi at the airport, where I'm awaiting a guest. Then a design scheme with some local wi-max advocates, and a bookstore appearance to support a local blogging-culture enthusiast... and after that it starts getting BUSY. After so many years of this, I've learned to leave the mike when people are still talking. I hope we're all hear again in 2009. I also hope that we're describing an entirely new state of the world that is practically unrecognizable. Ciao for now bruces http://blog.wired.com/sterling
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Wed 9 Jan 08 02:47
I'll have some of that chow, too, if you pass it over this way.,, Hasta la pasta! jonl http://weblogsky.com
Autumn (autumn) Wed 9 Jan 08 07:59
Thanks, guys. I haven't posted in this topic, but I've enjoyed reading it.
Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Wed 9 Jan 08 08:58
Thanks so much for joining us once again, Bruce. The past week has gone by so fast, and you've left us with a lot to ponder. And thank you, Jon, for once again being our moderator for this annual conversation.
Gail Williams (gail) Wed 9 Jan 08 18:05
Love all the interesting perceptions zipping past one another in this conversation. Plenty to reflect on. Thanks, Bruce and Jon. These annual events are a blast.
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