I certainly share their belief that the traditional music industry routes to releasing records should be avoided wherever possible, but are the majority of mobile phones advanced enough for this yet?
Monthly Archives: April 2004
Sleeping till 2pm, as I did, I missed the phone call from Kevin Walsh at Apple. Calling him back this afternoon, I was informed that Apple did indeed lose my laptop. And despite having had three weeks to do so, they haven’t found it. So they’ve ordered me a new one. He wasn’t clear on the specifications of the new machine, but I was told it would be the new equivalent of the machine I had, which should be significantly better.
I told him I’d get back to him on whether I felt I needed further compensation.
Bags are packed, cleaning is almost finished and the time for yet another transatlantic flight looms. I must check flight times, numbers and departure terminals.
Will Davies’ latest article at Progress Magazine makes interesting reading. He uses the term ‘democratish’ to describe the plethora of media and similar organisations which are often seen as part of the democratic process but which don’t contain democratic safeguards, and goes on to look at some of the effects of consumerist politics.
One of the best surveys of ‘social software’ I have yet found is this from a Canadian University’s Communication Studies course. It provides a good overview of many of the developments in communication technology and online community over recent years (and reminds me that I really need to read some works of Howard Rheingold).
What continues to be lacking in much discussion of online community is an analysis of the results of the overlapping layers of relationship which exist between members of various online communities. Tools such as Technorati, which detail links between blogs can articulate some of the links which exist between blogs but fail to represent any explanation of how that link came to be made. Similarly, technologies such as XFN (XHTML Friends Network) can go some step towards articulating relationships between the creators of sites and content, giving some indication of the nature of those relationships, but they are still some way from contextualising the content of the conversations which are interwoven in those relationships.
From my own experience, I have friends with whom I interact physically on a regular basis, who I also interact with frequently online. Some of those friends I initially met online; others I was aware of but not friends with online before we became friends off-line; and still others whose online presence I have become aware of some time after the initial in-person meeting. There are other people I know through friend-of-a-friend connections, or with whom I still interact primarily or entirely online.
Over time I have noticed a shift in my primary online conversation from a point where most conversations were with people I had met online, to a point where my primary contacts online are with people whom I am in regular contact offline or meet with in person more than once a year (often much more frequently). I suspect there will be further shifts as I move thousands of miles from many of my existing social networks and so need to use communications technologies in a different way to remain in touch.
[This multi-layered communication is nothing new. For many years we have seen relationships develop using a combination of written, remote verbal (telephone) and local (in person: talkingl, body language) layers, on top fo the fact that we learn news of our friends not only directly from them but also indirectly through mutual acquaintances.]
With almost all of these people, the conversations we hold continue in a variety of fora. Online, we will read each others’ blogs, participate in public and private email exchanges, join discussion boards, and chat using instant messaging clients. Blogs form the public face of many of these conversations, and hopefully provide the necessary context to understand them, but are woefully inadequate in any attempt to truly model social relationships or active communities.
Perhaps the most useful part of the article with which I opened is its discussion of the fact that online communities will often divide and that the developers of tools to facilitate these communities need to allow for members to take ownership of sections of those communities. Beyond that, a mark of the successfulness of online communities is that the relationships developed through it will transcend those tools and become multi-layered. If anyone wants to model the importance of social software and online communities, they’ll need to find ways to exolore that.
Once again picking up on a story that is rapidly making the rounds on blogs, I picked this quote out from Gregory Wright in G2′s latest article about blogging:
I like the idea of just writing something. If it wasn’t for keeping a blog, my written output would amount to about 10 words a month. I’m sure someone once said something about people writing in the past because they had something to say and people writing nowadays to find out whether or not they’ve got anything to say. There’s probably something in that.
I know that for myself, writing about a subject is a key way to work out what I think on it. Typically, I’ll write out a piece before deciding whether to post it here. Though sometimes laziness takes over and an entry such as this one emerges straight into movabletype.
What I’d query in the quote is the historical claim. Many, many writers have commented on how their work (usually, though not always, fiction) emerges as they write. The writing happens, and they are the conduit. I’d cite Madeleine L’Engle at this point, but my copy of Walking On Water is some miles from here.
But the comment is still an interesting one. Is there an increasing tendency to write in order to see if we have something to say? Or are we just doing that in public more now?
With thanks to bananie for the tip-off: Donnie Darko is to be re-released. Having only seen the original cut in the theatre/cinema (choose your language) three times, I’m rather glad that I’ll have the chance to do so again.
And very glad I didn’t get round to buying the DVD as yet. Does anyone know if this new release will be more than the original with the deleted scenes from the DVD edited back in?
As we have seen conflict after conflict erupt across Africa over the past few decades, mention has usually been made of the impact of colonialism and the manner of its withdrawal on the political stability of that continent. While colonialism, and its attendant carving up of countries along arbitrary national borders, is not the sole cause of Africa’s woes, no serious analysis can take place without recognition of that legacy.
One of the many things which has surprised me about media coverage of the current situation in the Middle-East both in the US (where I am at present) and (to a slightly lesser extent) in the UK is that scant awareness has been paid to the fact that much of the Middle East has a similar colonial history to Africa. Films like Lawrence of Arabia portray some of the co-option of Islamic causes in favour of the colonial powers, but facts such as the British creation of the Palestinian flag are usually left untouched.
It has only been lately that the media has begun to pick up on the ethnic and religious mix in Iraq for anything other than identifying that Saddam Hussein was a mamber of a minority group within Iraq and cruelly oppressed the Shia majority. While this is undoubtedly true, the make-up of Iraq is considerably more complex than such a crude analysis allows for, with the Kurdish population in the north being a key factor, along with a diverse range of other groups.
In the last of a series of articles on democracy in the Middle East, Guardian commentator Brian Whitaker talks about of how 35 years ago the relationship between Catholic countries and democracy could often be talked about in the same language as we today use of many Muslim ones. In the subsequent decades many of those countries have moved towards a series of government which looks very reminiscent of our own, though they still remain considerably more volatile as recent uprisings and demonstrations in Latin America have demonstrated.
Whitaker’s analysis leads towards a sense that much of the Western focus on the Middle-East is not only often hypocritical, but is also forcing the hand of history. A history already disrupted by the colonial intervention of previous centuries. His article provides anecdotes which suggest that parliamentary democracy is a serious hope for some of the countries of that region, but stops short from describing what that democracy might look like.
Any political theory and ideology must, to prosper, allow itself to be reformed in light of experience and evidence. Just as people today often scoff at ‘unreconstructed’ communism, we must be aware that there is a possibility that the same will be said in future years of those who cling to earlier understandings of democracy. The touch of ideology must be light, and the grip of democracy flexible if it is to adapt to cultures significantly different from those which we in the West have so far seen it modelled within. When Western leaders call for ‘freedom’ in other countries, that freedom must extend to allowing them to shape their own systems in light of their own history.
A post on an email list pointed me to Book Blog’s Gender Genie which seeks to analyse texts and calculate whether they’re written by men or women. My experiments with it so far have yielded results that are far from accurate. But of more interest was the fact that it offers three ‘genres’: fiction, non-fiction, and blog entry.
The Guardian is carrying an article suggesting that airlines may need to require travellers to the US to check-in five hours before take-off in order to get through new security checks. I wish I could be more surprised than I am. While this is likely (hopefully) an exaggeration on the part of the airlines, it coincides neatly with our discovery that the fiance visa process changed again yesterday (more on that here or at Kari’s blog when we know the implications).
We are currently in the process of applying for a K-1 fiance visa, which is the recommended route before getting married in the US. There are two stages to the processing, one in the US and one in the UK. While the visa is being processed in the US I can come and go freely on a visa waiver, but once that stage is completed I can’t enter until I enter on that visa.
Last Friday we heard that the US part of the process had been completed two months faster than expected. This means that once I leave the US (on Monday) I can’t return until I return on the visa. So we’re now rather eagerly awaiting the arrival of the police certificate and the form from the embassy that I need before I go to the US Embassy for an interview and medical. I have flights booked to come here on May 18th, and that now looks unlikely but it’ll be as soon as possible after that.
Once we’ve had the wedding we have to file for Adjustment of Status (AOS) which is the process which gets me my work permit (EAD) and green card. That process has lately been taking about three months and while it is in motion I can’t leave the US without Advance Parole, which can itself take a long while unless in emergencies.
So right now, it looks like we’ll be holding a wedding as soon as I can get the visa and jump on a plane. And then we’ll be trying to get Advance Parole or my green card as soon as possible so I can, hopefully, leave the US for the last couple of weeks of August.
For those who are making plans, the public celebration aspect of the wedding will still take place on October 22nd. No need to change your reservations.