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Monthly Archives: November 2006

Unknown Pleasures Album Cover

“Context-Handback” is something I find that I want nearly everything – or my everyware, at least – to do.

What do I mean?

An inverse-concrete example: something that can’t perform context-handback is my new little iPod shuffle.

I bought it last weekend after a longish break from the Jobs/Ive Hegemon, in order to play some of the iTunes purchased DRM’d gear I’m stuck with, and also because it’s just gorgeous as an object.

More perfect than the perfect thing it seems in both build quality and simplicity.

Foe had owned an original shuffle before but I’d never tried it – I’m finding thought that I really love the surrender to the flow of your own music – music that you perhaps didn’t realise you owned or had neglected, surfaced by the pseudo-stochastic, inscrutable selectah inside the tiny metal extrusion.

Perhaps I’m prepped to enjoy this semi-surprising personal radio station by my other semi-surprising personal radios – last.fm and pandora.

I listen to a lot of last.fm at work, and I find its recommendations only more and more rewarding over time.

But I find I obsess now on feeding it more and more – I want to handback to it from all of my musical consumption – my shuffle, the radio on my N95, shazam-tags from something playing in the pub – everything.

I want to bring it offerings.

And there’s the rub – so little of that musical consumption, in fact the bulk of it done on the go – can be offered back to last.fm.

It’s so frustrating that my musical discoveries and rediscoveries can’t feed back into creating more, or even that I can’t see what I enjoyed in iTunes when I synchronise with
the shuffle.

Faltering steps towards remedying this trivial problem can be seen in something like this hacked-up scrobbler for mobile in S60 python.

More context-handback hopefully in the next few years, until then – unknown pleasures.

The madness that is stepping off a plane into the twitterstorm

…as just discussed with Russell in the Crown and Sceptre,

“World of Warcraft for those who can’t be bothered with all that elf crap and fighting, rendered in Haiku…”, “Part reality-tv, part improv, part microblogging”

It’s decidedly playful – with the constraints of the medium and the unashamed mundanity of most of the content only adding to the fun.

The explicit ‘reporting’ nature of it seems to make it more attractive to me than perhaps some other things that might be similarly classed as ‘self-surveillance infotainment’ like Plazes or Jaiku.
Whilst it’s definitely ‘having a moment’ – it’ll be interesting to see whether it settles into a pattern of the same sustained interest and fun as Flickr, or move into the realms of YAZSNS (Yet Another Zombie Social Network Service) full of tiny 160 character ASCII tumbleweed…

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.flickr-yourcomment { }
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13112006285, originally uploaded by blackbeltjones.

Greatly enjoyed the BBC4 programme, “The Martians and Us” tonight, which is a non-sniggering look at British SF from Wells onwards, without C-list celeb talking heads and with serious interviews with the likes of Arthur C. Clarke, Brian Aldiss and China Mieville.

Olaf Stapleton's chart of the future

One wonderful moment was the interview with Olaf Stapledon‘s daughter, showing the detailed hand-drawn chart her father had made describing the future history of mankind that was to become “First and Last Men”.

Olaf Stapleton's chart of the future

Can’t seem to find it online anywhere, but instead here’s what I did get for googling “Olaf Stapledon” and “Timeline”!

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Update: corrected the spelling throughout from Stapleton -> Stapledon throughout. Wierdly I had remembered it as Stapledon (I read “First and Last Men” when I was about 16 I think) but then googled and found it as Stapleton… Hence the error – thanks for putting me back right John

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