Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

Here Comes Everybody – Clay Shirkey

May 13th, 2008 No comments

Here Comes Everybody

I am a big Barack Obama supporter, however, one of the historic areas that Barack Obama was able to gather support and votes was by using social networking sites to gather support. As the Washington Post called him “Social Networking King” and other sites championed his cause, he was not only the first black person that will be nominated for a Presidential Primary he was able to build up support from the bottom-up. This is much different from convential organizations that are organized from the top down and describes the premise of this book.

Clay Shirkey’s argument is that we are in a communication revolution. With the advent of the internet, it is becoming much easier to form social groups to organize much better than we could years ago. It is becoming much cheaper to publish material for the entire world to see. For example, this blog, (outside of where it might be censored) is available everywhere in the world and is costing me very little in terms of distribution costs. It is a point in history, that Shirkey explains that we must all be aware of. If we go back through the history of time we realize that there have been those points that have allowed for a greater ability to communicate with each other.

What is different about this revolution is that it is the first time that industry is playing a lesser and lesser role in the ability to communicate and form groups.

If you think back 20 years ago it would have been difficult for a presidential campaign to organize like they could now. It would have to be from the top down, organizing in every city and state as there were not those mechanisms for groups to form on their own. Money would have to be spent organizing locations where they would speak and that information would have to distributed in such a fashion that would ultimately be very expensive to do so.

With tools such as Facebook, however, groups can form very cheaply and at no expense to the organization. Their support is more run by the group themselves rather than from the top which allows for very little guidance necessary.

We see this with tools like You Tube, Facebook, Myspace, Flickr and Twitter to name a few, some of the group forming tools available on the internet. We are also faced with a wide array of information that does not come from conventional sources. A blog for instance might post photos from Myanmar, to show how the government is withholding information or the London Terrorist Subway Bombing photos can be posted on Flickr at the moment of it happening, not just as a way to inform friends that an individual might be okay but to inform the public as well of the disaster as it is happening. Media is not just limited anymore to those corporations that have in the past accustomed to control it.

As successful as the Obama Campaign has been, one of the bigger attacks against the campaign was a video of the Rev. Wright that contained snippets of some of his sermons at the Trinity United Church of Christ. Seinfeld’s Michael Richards probably did not think that anyone would be pulling out their cellphone and video recording his racist hate filled speech at a couple of blacks in the audience. However, once that went to Youtube and was seen by millions, Richards became faced with a dilemma of his own.

Not only are social networks able to be formed but those networks can connect individuals with common interests. For example, the rise of Open Sourced Software became predominant once people had the ability to communicate freely. Where a topic like open source becomes so important is that it allows the users the ability to access the source code and manipulate and or create additions on their own. WordPress (This blog too) for example is open sourced which means that there are hundreds of people working on applications in order for it to work with other applications. Where open sourced differs, is that failure is free. Like other open sourced software, there is no cost for WordPress. Unlike business when there is a cost for any failure, there would be none for WordPress as it is run by dedicated users that support the product. This is needed for innovation as we realize that not every idea is going to be successful. Industry on the other hand has a harder time dealing with failure.

Shirkey’s book should have not just interest within the tech circuit but read by anyone in any industry trying to get a grasp of the tools of the 21st Century.

Categories: Books, Technology Tags:

John Peel – Margrave of the Marshes

August 31st, 2007 No comments


John Peel – Margrave of the Marshes

It is obvious that disc-jockeys , as a class, are essentially parasitic. We are, with lamentably few exceptions, neither creative nor productive. We are, with lamentably few exceptions, neither creative nor productive. We have, however, manipulated the creations of others (records) to provide ourselves with reputations as arbiters of public taste. There is no more reason (nor no less) why I should be writing this column than you – however I am in this unmerited position and you’re not. I believe very much in radio as a medium of tragically unrealized possibilities and also in the music I play. Therefore accepting the falseness of my own precarious position I will do what I can, wherever I can, to publicise these good things I hear around me. These musicians have made you aware of, and appreciate of, their music, not J. Peel.

John Peel, Disc and Music Echo, 1969

Sometimes it can be awfully boring to read an auto/biography about an individual that I know too much about. Typically, these just offer a rehash of their lives or contain information that I know too well about already. Picking up a book about an interesting topic or person that I spent too little time or did not have the opportunity to listen to, well that is a different story.

Before the internet, before cable television, before our lives were consumed with the media, there were individuals such as John Peel who dedicated their lives to offering the public an opinion that was outside the norm.

John Peel did this on a medium that today that is all but dying and that medium is Radio. ‘Margrave of the Marshes’, is the story of Peel told from both Peel and his wife Sheila.

Peel left this world all too early, hit by a sudden heart attack while vacationing in Peru. These events never allowed for Peel to finish his autobiography for which his wife Sheila promptly completed.

As an American I never had the opportunity to be able to listen to Peel on any sort of basis. Every once in awhile I would find an album, a demo, bootleg or some other sort of recording by a band labeled “The Peel Sessions”, and for many a band, getting to play on Peel’s show was a way to arrive at notoriety.

When he died, Brits wept and bands played tribute in his honor. Only then, do we get a full impetus of what he left for fans across the globe.

You did not have to listen to John Peel to be influenced by him because Peel not only influenced listeners but he influenced bands.

Peel believed in the individual and the fan and did not believe in the corporate environment that tries to sell to the lowest common denominator. He challenged his fans as well as himself. He was a fan of music, setting up his office in his house with it full of CDs, LPs, Demo Tapes and whatnot.

What Peel was successful at doing was being passionate and humble at the same time. I got the feeling that Peel never thought he was the best father or even the best DJ.

John Peel was Great Britans answer for that cool guy down at the end of the hall who had the best record collection and would play a mix tape of his. We are not talking Bee Gees or Bay City Rollers but Captain Beefheart, T-Rex, Sex Pistols, and or introducing his audience to other genres such as Reggae and the like.

Realize that this was before the internet, before we were linked to every Tom, Dick and Harry’s blog, and on the limited medium of Radio, Peel offered his audience the full potential of it.

Typically, when I finish a book, I try to take something from it. For me, I look at this lowly blog which is probably read by like three people. I hardly have the audience of a John Peel but I also realize that if someone takes something from an article, an album or a book that I have read and also found it amazing or even atrocious then there is something positive that is going on.

Categories: Books, Music Tags:

Have To Love Amazon E-Mails…

July 28th, 2007 No comments

Eric M Zimmermann,

We’ve noticed that customers who have purchased or rated Yoko by Beulah have also purchased Friedrich Schorr Vol. 2, Historical Recordings from 1927-31 . For this reason, you might like to know that Friedrich Schorr Vol. 2, Historical Recordings from 1927-31 is now available.  You can order yours for just $15.00 by following the link below. . .

Categories: Books, Life, Music Tags:

Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling

June 27th, 2007 No comments


Todays book report is on Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling written by Ross King. As it relates to a mixture of Art, the Renaissance, Religion and plenty of history the book jumped off the store shelves into my hands and it just seemed like a logical choice for my next reading. I have always been fascinated by history, as real life can sometimes be much more interesting than fiction. That being said:

Obviously the story revolves around Michelangelo and the Sistine Chapel. I think the book succeeds in trying to portray the difficult nature of how difficult it is to fresco much less fresco for an inexperienced painter like Michelangelo.

Yes, we would not expect this but Michelangelo was not the experienced painter but had more knowledge in sculpture as his statue David would suggest.

Intermixed in the story of trying to design, implement and paint the Sistine Chapel, we are fed plenty of tidbits of European history, especially in regards to the individual that commissioned Michelangelo to paint the ceiling in the first place, Pope Julius II.

Not really having an impression of Michelangelo coming in to the book, I found him to be in many respects a very strong individual, devoted to his work, a complete perfectionist who both loved and loathed what he did. In one case, he would rant on and on to his family about how much he hated his work but on the other hand put so much of himself into his work. In a day when the images and the stories that were being painted were in themselves very much controlled by those that were commissioning the work, the artist didn’t have the same freedom to express himself like the current day artist. The images and portraits are told from the point of view of the Church with Michelangelo’s Artistic impression still in place. For instance, when the chapel ceiling was finished, Pope Julius wanted there to be more gold involved in the clothes of the various old testament pictorals. Michelangelo flatly refused informing the Pope that it would not be realistic to add gold and wealth to biblical characters that were not wealthy nor rich.

I am not an artist by any stretch of the imagination so what I found refreshing about this book is that it was not a technical guide to the creation of the Sistine Chapel but rather a detailed history and story of the Sistine Chapel Ceiling from the onlooker that appreciates art. The technical issues that are brought up are just to reinforce just how difficult it was to fresco art as it was pointed out that even Leonardo DaVinci had issues in frescoing certain projects and even abandoned one from lack of success. By understanding all the work and effort that Michelangelo put into the work I can only say from a novice art fan that I am more impressed with his work now than ever before.

For those of you that are interested in history, I also found some of the tidbits of the Roman Catholic Church quite fascinating. The Roman Catholic Church is much different than it is today, with far much power then. We also see that understanding Christianity was not a prerequisite of having Papal power during that time. The Pope was more than just a figurehead for the Catholic Church but was also a monarch.

I do need to make it to see this amazing piece of work at some point, sit in the pew and just stare upward and be amazed at its sheer beauty.

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Constantine’s Sword

May 30th, 2007 No comments

I tend to appreciate nonfiction over fakery so here it goes.


Constantines Sword – James Carroll

Is a compelling book if you are either Catholic or Jewish or maybe just interested in the subject matter. The book th both Catholic and Jewish history and culture since the time of Christ and points to the Holocaust as an ever present reminder of even the current day anti-semitism that exists. The book looks at Constantine as being the true birth of the Christian Religion. The subject of Jesus Christ is interesting in the Jewish faith because as it would be stated, there would be those that look at Jesus as being the savior and thus you see the first decisive split between the religions.

For me, I have to say that I struggled over some of the theological aspects as it has been a long time since I studied that aspect of the Catholic Church. The other problem is that there seems to be a lot of evidence against the Catholic Church for their wrongs, there lacks that certain amount of compassion to look at the good that they have done. Also, there is a difference between discrimination and anti-semitism. The Pope will always have a heart for the beliefs and values of Catholics before anyone else and to make claims that the Pope is being anti-semitic is at times unfairly justified.

Carroll does a nice job in bringing his own personal accounts into the story as a guide to his unraveling with his Catholic beliefs. I would not suggest that Carrol is anti-catholic but more pro-religious unity. He speaks on behalf of both Christians and Jews to try to come to a solution for the issues that have plagued these two religions over the past 2000 years. He does point out that history should teach us lessons for the future and while he does say that some of the actions of the Catholic Church can obviously be questioned, how could they know that certain events would work out the way they did.

Overall, I am torn. Several events are repeated ad nausem. The same result could have been accomplished in about 100 less pages. However, I have always been somewhat fascinated with the studies between different faiths, especially christian (catholic especially) and Judiaism. There is so much that both faiths share that I would hope for some determination by the catholic church to correct its wrongs.

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