Thursday, March 30

tracing recognitions

I find it amusing to read the uploader's disgruntled comments on this audio file of Blake's "The Tiger," when the nearly-identical track is included in this collection of the same poem (which collection proliferates across mirrors and apps from here to there). creative people have remixed the track into various interesting musicalish and ambient tracks of their own.
see here, here, here, and here.

tracing all those connections is quite fun. who knows if it is useful. but not everything needs to be useful.

I'm reading Clay Shirky's Cognitive Surplus at the moment. it's a quick few chapters of popular non-fiction. and it makes quite a nice sequel to Benkler's The Wealth of Networks--which I finally finished the other day! I have many thoughts on all of Shirky and Benkler's thoughts, and how they combine with many other people's thoughts. the unifying theme is one of how much technology has changed the kinds of opportunities we all have for connecting with each other and sharing stuff. so many new possibilities for useless remixing. isn't it exciting?

it was probably more exciting in 2006. it seems normal now, mostly.

anyway, the thing Shirky brings up that stands out is that the "useless" judgement only really applies if you're looking at things from a certain limited frame. dominant in most of our capitalist society is a frame of monetization and professional production values. amateur readings of poetry and slapped-together cat photos with funny captions are useless in that frame. they are free and mediocre at best. but if you switch frames, and instead of money you value communal experiences of making and sharing, then such things are not so useless after all. in that frame, the commercially produced and marked-up-for-profit books and comedy and content become the useless stuff.

Shirky is not the most academic of sources, but that may matter less than parts of me imagine it might. in combination with everything else I'm reading, he seems pretty useful no matter what the popularity of his chosen genre.

in my library database adventures the other week, I came a cross an unexpectedly familiar name. I'd searched for "librivox" and found, among random and mostly useless-to-me news snippets, this edited collection. It includes a whole chapter about LibriVox, and another chapter written by a philosopher/historian/LibriVox volunteer. Matthew Rubery was the editor, and I recognized his name, incidentally, from a random but not so useless news snippet.

Jeremiah's grandfather had clipped this out for me--a piece of a review of Rubery's new book. Jeremiah's grandfather has taken quite an interest in my dissertation topic. I feel like I may have to work just as hard over the next year to impress him with my work as I will to impress my committee members.

I have The Untold Story of the Talking Book on request with our library. with any luck the Inter-Library Loan people will get me a copy soon, so I can find out what, if anything, Rubery has included about my favourite online audiobook project.

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