Sunday, May 16, 2010

twenty years, sinking slowly

Oh, this post is exquisitely devoted to too much caffeine. I really need to stop making a pot of coffee...and then drinking all of it. It makes me vibrate for hours.

The Ratemyava post is back up; and that, I'm fairly sure, is enough of that.

So the buzz today (on Twitter, at least) was all about privacy, and what expectations we should have for privacy, online. (Apparently, according to leaders at Apple, Google and Facebook...the only reason we'd have to prevent full access to every single detail of our lives, is that we're perverted criminals seeking to hide awful details.)

I can't speak to anyone else; but while there are things in my life that are well within the province of the traditional open book, there are things (exactly where I live, things that tie to my actual real name, my phone number, my browsing history, for example) that I do not want to, nor do I expect to, reveal in toto to the world. Do I think anything I'm doing is morally, ethically, or technologically wrong? No. But these things should be my choice to reveal; not Google's, not Apple's, and most certainly not Facebook's.

In more Apple news, the company is researching how to bring us several steps closer to the future. Personally, I'm looking forward to the heads-up display. Because a hop, skip and jump past that are headjacks! least, I'm fairly sure. At some point. There will be.

Though one wonders when one can blink and access the internet, what privacy issues we'll be dealing with then.


Just as an aside...I don't intend to pull my blog into Solace Beach land sales, but I have to share this one...

Meet Parcel #1594. It's called Annabel Lee, and is currently tropical, though for L$8000 per week rental, I'm fairly sure it could be made any terrain style desired. For that fee, you get 65,504 square meters, and a grand total of 3,746 prims.

Someone needs to pick that up, or toss me L$8000 per week so I can! Because it's amazing, and it's an island, and it's for sale...and Miss Ayesha Lytton, who owns Solace Beach? Gets the reference, because that posting starts out, "Build your own kingdom by the sea on this beautiful sim."

And you really could. You really, really could.

I am so in the wrong tax bracket, I know--even ditching my Winterfell isle and Morgaine wouldn't put me towards renting one-third of that place. But still. Briefly, I indulged a little dream....which is also part of why I'm telling people about it here. Who knows? Someone may think it's perfect!

That is the hope, anyway, and we move on again.

Article on neurochemistry and response bears some looking at again, despite being written in 2009: "It's not that the old meds are getting weaker, drug developers say. It's as if the placebo effect is somehow getting stronger."

It is a valid question--just why are placebo effects displacing actual medication? What does that mean for human brains in the future?

Peter Serafinowicz has an excellent article up on Gizmodo about the relative ease of downloading versus buying--the triumph of the digital over the physical, in one sense. (Though I did and do adore his description of iTunes as 'better than free', because it's cheap, it's easier to download, and subsequently access, and it's easy to upload to new media after initial purchase.)

I really think if more sites made it so easy, there'd be more sales, and I don't think that's just a pipe dream. A lot of internet music sites went to pricing their songs anywhere from twenty-five cents to ninety-nine cents per tune--those places are selling songs legally, by and large. And even big bands who sell their own CDs are learning to change levels of buy-in--for example, on OKGo's site, you can buy just the songs alone for nine dollars, songs on a physical CD for ten plus shipping, or get an all-in-one package of t-shirt, tour poster, behind-the-scenes video diary, plus the songs and all related bonus materials, for something like two hundred and fifty.

Some artists have gone beyond that--I believe it was Evelyn Evelyn who offered dinner on the moon with Evelyn Evelyn for thirteen million dollars. That's probably only within reach of one collector...maybe.

"Frank Zappa once said that Communism could never work because people like to own stuff. I felt a similar way about CDs when music began to arrive in MP3 form. Now, my music happily resides in my iTunes library, spread over various computers and iPods."

And while Serafinowicz--and Frank Zappa--are right, there is a definite feeling of ownership of virtual goods. Just ask the couple currently suing Second Life because the Labs canceled their virtual accounts, thus deleting their access to all their digital worldly goods, plus their digitized lands. All bought with real money, of course, which they're claiming as a classic bait-and-switch, and the Labs are saying was no big deal, because anyone should have understood their use of the phrase "own your own virtual land" was intended as a metaphor.

(I'll go out on the limb and assume that metaphor translates as, "Give us all your money and don't ever complain. Thank you, here's a Linden home.")

Another very relevant (I think) passage from the article:

I recently directed the music video for Hot Chip's "I Feel Better". Contractually, the video had to be hosted on EMI's official YouTube channel, which disabled non-UK users from viewing it, limiting its audience by around 80%. Frustrated, I put it up on my own YouTube channel with no region restrictions, and at time of writing is just shy of a million views. EMI then remotely disabled embedding on my version, thereby limiting its audience again. If you're in the business of promoting a band, why would you want to stop people watching their promotional video?

That's what I have forever wondered. Does it prevent downloading that video? No, people will just find a way around that. Does it prevent new ears hearing your band's music, though? And that answer is absolutely, so why would a music company ever want to restrict access?

There's also something of a buzz behind Kathy Sierra today, who's not only closed her Twitter account, but also stopped updating her blog. It is a shame--she was clever, bright, and funny. She will be missed, at least until we figure out why she's folded up shop. Then there will likely be mass screaming.

Speaking of mass screaming, I realize the point of the art of Francois Robert is to reinforce that violence is bad,'s just so pretty.

And this? Cutest. Cover. EVER. (Save for Scala's "I Touch Myself", of course.)


Rhianon Jameson said...

Yes, it was definitely Evelyn Evelyn with various levels of packaging, up to and including the dinner on the moon, though I'll have to trust your recollection on the price. It was just a little out of my range, so I merely bought the CD instead.

Part of wanting to own stuff is that it's available for you any time you want it. If a company could guarantee the stuff would be available for me in 20 years, I'd be just as happy to rent music. (At least I think so. Who knows?)

As an aside, a friend and I were avoiding the rain in a Borders today, looking at the sale CD rack - you know, the one where you can get an old Heart or Steely Dan album for six or seven bucks. We noticed that most of the CDs were oddball "greatest hits" compilations (e.g., Lynyrd Skynyrd with no "Sweet Home Alabama"?) for $6 each. It occurred to me that iTunes, Amazon,, and such sites have pretty much killed that market. Why pay $6 for 8 songs that some guy at Rhino Records thought you'd like when you can pay roughly that and pick out those 8 songs yourself? Sometimes progress is actually a good thing...

Emilly Orr said...

And maybe that's part of it, too--there was a time where I was a fervent supporter of Rhino Records, because they had the bands and the videos I couldn't find anywhere else.

Now? I can practically get They Might Be Giants at Wal-Mart (well, if I shopped at Wal-Mart). I do know that my local Target had at least one copy of Evelyn Evelyn in their CD section. (But that could also be because their music buyer's a fan. In fact, that gets fun elsewhere--when we lived in Spokane, aka the Cursed Earth, the assistant manager of the local Safeway to where we lived was a big foreign film buff. So weirdly, I could find Asian horror and Thai and Indian romance vids there before I could track them down online, even.)

Part of wanting to own stuph is having it whenever I want it, but there's been more than a few times where the CD I own has been in a box, somewhere, and I want to hear something off it, so I just troll around on iTunes or eMusic until I find it for cheap-cheap. Or music review blogs until I find it for not-pay-at-all. And yes, as Serafinowicz said, I have that feeling of I've already purchased this, so I'm just re-acquiring a song I've already acquired...but that is very definitely the slippery slope in question.

Martin said...

Questions about privacy - whether online or not - go straight to the heart of humanity. Who are we? What are our rights? Etc...

Emilly Orr said...

Exactly. And the biggest one for some--do we, should we, have the same expectations of privacy online, as we do off?

I'm remembering conversations with police friends, and Law & Order episodes both--conversations held in a car with the door closed are assumed private; but in a car with the door open are not; just as conversations on a land line are assumed to be private, but conversations on a cell phone or at a pay phone are not. Even if the cell phone is one being used from your abode, it's no longer considered a private conversation.

So...where are we drawing the lines? For big corporations like Google, Apple and Facebook, apparently that line is never drawn--it all should be public, and if we don't want everything public, obviously we're hiding something. And for me personally, that's the wrong conclusion to draw.

Emilly Orr said...

Thing Anonymous:

No spam on my blog. Deleted, both comments. Run along, now, go bother someone with fewer standards.

Emilly Orr said...

Thing Anonymous:

You don't get it, do you? NO. SPAM. On this blog. Pick on someone else.

Emilly Orr said...

Thing Anonymous:

NO. Feck off. Not here.

Emilly Orr said...

Thing Anonymous:

This is fun for you? Deleted.