On the transformation of everyday culture in an era of liquid modernity

Archive for the ‘everyday life’ Category

New article: Piracy as activism

In cultural industries, everyday life, file-sharing, media ecology, p2p, politics, post-piratical, Sweden on February 10, 2011 at 3:02 pm

I have a couple of new academic articles in the pipeline.

The first one to be published in 2011 is found in the bilingual online Greek journal Re-Public, which has a current theme issue on the topic of “piracy as activism”. The aim of this issue is to explore “pirate practices and subjectivities in terms of their resistance to the dominant organisations of everyday life” (quoting the editors’ own introduction), and it’s out now, available in both Greek and English.

“It takes (at least) two to tango” is a short article about the activist subject and the pirate subject – and how it seems impossible to maintain agential “purity” in an era that is characterised by an even more complex tangle of agency, in which we as subjects are embedded. My argument, in short, is that the forms of activism found online, connected to what is commonly called the “pirate” movement, are hard to separate from consumerism and entrepreneurialism, given that what is traded remains to be products from the cultural industry, and that all forms of establishment of hubs, sites and the likes are akin to (real or potential) commercial ventures, albeit of an “outlaw” or “rogue” kind.

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This blog is now authored by a doctor

In everyday life, file-sharing, p2p, Sweden on October 17, 2010 at 2:49 pm

The Liquidculture Notebook has been quite dormant as of lately. The reasons are many – I have been busy with relocating to Sweden, editing a brand new reader on The Pirate Bay, working as a teacher and translator. You can read more about it here (Jonas Andersson’s personal homepage).

And, more importantly: In June 2010 I went back to London in order to get through my viva voce for finally getting that Ph.D. degree. My two examiners were Don Slater (LSE) and Jon Dovey (UWE). And I’m happy to announce that I passed my viva, with no modifications!

During the summer and early autumn, the academic formalities have moved forward, very slowly, and I’m now about to register my thesis with University of London, and their Senate House academic archive. More publications are in the works. Please do not hesitate to email me if you are interested in a pdf copy.

Orchestral manoeuvres in the dark

In art, cultural industries, everyday life, marketing, media ecology, music on October 28, 2009 at 4:53 pm

If you are a fantastic cultural producer, what good is it if no-one hears, sees or gets to know about your work? The problem of structural support to the cultural industries is as much to do with supporting new forms of distribution and recommendation systems as it is to do with direct economic support to producers, or leveraging employment rules and state subsidies in useful ways, or due appreciation also to distinctly amateur forms of production.

That last note, about the importance of appreciating amateur forms of production, is essentially there as an inital reservation: Of course I’m in favour of an amateur-led wave of cultural production, better enabled by digital technology. Who isn’t? And of course it is great that tools and knowledge are more horizontally distributed now, favouring bazaar-like modes of organization over cathedral-like ones.

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I fought a loudness war

In aesthetics, art, everyday life, media ecology, music, philosophy on October 5, 2009 at 9:17 pm

One of the most striking features of popular music in the last decade has been the “loudness war”. The music we listen to has become increasingly louder in the last 20 years, as it is now music industry standard to try and make the soundwaves contained within a sound file as maximised as possible, in terms of loudness.

By a combination of extreme compression of the dynamic range and make-up gain, the sound range is boosted to a more uniform level, removing the peaks and troughs that would normally separate a quieter verse from a pumping chorus. (Read more about it here and here.)

As this is the normative aesthetic nowadays – “it has to sound like this” – the sociology of music should really sharpen its ears and point them in this direction. It is extremely interesting in terms its philosophical implications. So, let us delve deeper into the aesthetic implications of loudness below!

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Faith in the commercial single? No more

In everyday life, media ecology, mp3, music on October 30, 2008 at 10:41 am

When physical CD singles are available no more – what moral quandaries does that put us in, as music fans?

Popjustice recently adressed the dilemmas facing the contemporary music consumer who loves songs – that is, individual tracks, not albums – and the novelty, galore and fascination of hits. When faced with the fact that new music is only commercially available in lossy, intangible and non-lasting formats, what position does that put us in as consumers – if owning a decent copy of the song itself is what interests us?

Off the top of our heads, here are some things that spring to mind on this topic.

» What constitutes ‘owning’ a song?

» If you can’t see or hold something is it worth spending money on?

» Does that question alter if what you’re spending money on is something you only intend to listen to? Read the rest of this entry »

Facebook, ‘til death do us apart

In everyday life, media ecology, social networking sites on February 5, 2008 at 3:12 pm

Facebook makes visible the futility of life, but also the marvel that appears in-between the banalities.

Not only do social networks like MySpace and especially Facebook make the primary channels for keeping informed about when people close to you break up, or have other important changes in their lives (losing their jobs, being pregnant etc). Sometimes you’re apprehending things not through what is actually said, but through what is left out. The “relationship status” indicator is all of a sudden taken down. The ever-present “wall” is temporarily suspended. Or nothing happens; the page remains immutable, inert, suspended in that void which life crises often generate.
In effect, here the social network does not mean anything; it doesn’t taint or colour reality, neither positively nor negatively; it just is, like life itself. Does it feel cheap to break up via text message? Does it feel equally cheap to let one’s mates know only through automatized Facebook feeds? Social facts remain; their charge is not in how they are mediated – whether they are gripping or banal lies in their own nature, not with the messenger. Read the rest of this entry »

Faking it with MySpace

In everyday life, social networking sites on October 30, 2007 at 12:58 pm

Social networking, the place where fakery is applauded — or at least sanctioned. Not only is the myth of bands discovered entirely through MySpace perpetuated, the people behind the social networking sites trn out to be as manipulative them too. But hey, aren’t we all expected to use some “white lies” to get what we want?

The old, official story is usually that “so and so bands were discovered through MySpace and yeah it totally rocks because it’s all in the hands of the users”.
However, it soon comes to show that this is a somewhat simplified picture. Arctic Monkeys didn’t have a MySpace page until shortly before their debut single release; Lily Allen was already signed by an EMI subsidiary before she joined MySpace; and Sandi Thom had a lucrative publishing deal in place by the time she began webcasting. Read the rest of this entry »

On Facebook as “the bureaucratization of friendship”

In everyday life, social networking sites on October 3, 2007 at 10:52 am

This is very interesting in my opinion – and it begs the question if social networking doesn’t thrive on a marketization of social relations which in turn relies on 1) the ranking, valorization and management of different “friendships” and 2) the tendency to “brand” one’s own identity, to document it for posterity and to maximize its value in the face of one’s own (semi)public network of friends. Read the rest of this entry »