Increasingly, technology is making it easier and cheaper for people to collaborate in new and interesting ways. What we have seen in the recent years is probably just the tip of the iceberg. I'm looking forward what the next 10-20 years will bring.
With the help of musicians from around the world, the guys at Playing For Change have made some great recordings. Check out these fantastic videos of Stand By Me and Don't Worry.
hat tip Ray Beckerman
photo credit Leo Reynolds
In Clay Shirky's The Internet Runs on Love presentation he talks about the impact of new coordinating tools.
"With love alone you can get a birthday party together, add coordinating tools and you can write an operating system. In the past we would do little things for love, but big things, big things required money. Now we can do big things for love."
However, it's not just new coordinating tools, tools for creativity are becoming cheaper and more powerful. And so a bunch of people can get together and create something quite impressive... just for the love of it.
On May 3, 2009 the movie The Hunt for Gollum was released. It was created by volunteers and had a budget of £3,000.
View the trailer.
Click the link to watch The Hunt For Gollum.
hat tip TechDirt
Combine an infomercial, a video editor, some electronic music and Auto-Tune and you get Rap Chop.
hat tip TechDirt
Auto-Tune is an audio processor created to correct pitch problems in vocal performances. It was popularized as a vocal effect in Cher's Believe. To protect their trade secret the song's producers initially claimed they used a vocoder to achieve this effect. Auto-Tune was developed by Andy Hildebrand who re-purposed software he had developed for seismic data exploration.
While Big Content steadfastly refuses to take advantage of the opportunities that the internet is providing, there are a few using the internet to their advantage. For established musicians, Trent Reznor Nine Inch Nails is leading the way (see Mike Masnick's presentation on how Trent Reznor Represents the Future of the Music Business).
However, it's also possible for unknown artists to build a following, if you have a little talent and personality. Julia Nunes is a college student from Upstate New York who has created some great videos of herself performing cover songs and put them on YouTube. Through her YouTube videos she has generated enough of a following play in shows, open for Ben Folds and record two albums of her original songs.
hat tip Gizmodo
A serious injury to my knees brought to an end my brief stint as a truck driver. While there are things I don't miss about the job, I regret missing out on the opportunity to travel the highways of this continent and see more of Canada and the U.S. Certainly, the job does not allow one to be a tourist and spend time seeing the sites. However, you aren't always travelling interstate highways and the businesses you load and unload the trailer aren't always located near major cities. Driving through small towns was a lot of fun. On one occasion I drove through a small lakeside town and while pulling a 53' trailer on a twisty, narrow road left me little time enjoy the sites what I did see was great.
It might be a while before my knees will be up to some long distance road trips (this summer I'll find out how they hold up on a 6 hour trip) and can go on some real road trips. When I do, they will hopefully trips where I can do some exploring rather than rushing by at 100kph in an 18 wheeler.
Watch the Ironic Iconic America promo video
There is a ton of music and video that, for a variety of reasons, is being kept in the storage vaults. While there is good reason why much of this isn't commercially viable, some of it is culturally significant.
Nina Simone's performance at the Harlem Festival in 1969 is outstanding. Unfortunately, it is also not commercially available. However, it is available for viewing on YouTube. This video contains the first two songs from her set.
Watch the remainder of Nina's performance at Arthur Magazine.
hat tip Ray Beckerman
Sita Sings the Blues in an animated movie created by Nina Paley (wikipedia). Using 4 different animation styles, Paley weaves together the breakup of her marriage, the singing of Annette Hanshaw and the epic story of Ramayana.
Here is a link to the YouTube page for Sita Sings the Blues with larger picture and the playlist setup for all 10 parts.
Maxime is my 3 year old nephew and he likes to watch music videos on my laptop. Here are his top 5 favorite videos. I've included links to each video in case the powers that be decide to disable embedded video.
5. Arturo Márquez, Danzón No. 2 - Gustavo Dudamel, Teresa Carreño Youth Orchestra
In this video Gustavo Dudamel leads the Teresa Carreño Youth Orchestra (Venezuela's national high-school-age youth orchestra) in a performance for the February 2009 TED Conference. Dudamel and the Orchestra are a product of El Sistema.
I've included the whole video here as it's worth watching. However, for Maxime I only play the Orchestra's performance of Arturo Márquez' Danzón No. 2. Maxime seems to have a bit of a connection with Gustavo, perhaps it's the hair.
4. Gnarls Barkley, Crazy
I love this song and for some reason my nephew does too. I wouldn't have expected him to like this song. Maybe it's the uniforms or maybe he just likes good music.
3. Colbie Caillat, Bubbly
Maxime's brother and sister like this one too. I've embedded a live version of the song as the record company has disabled embedding the promotional video, which is the video I play for my nephew. You'll find a link to that video below.
2. Coldplay, The Scientist
Not sure if it's the whole backward thing or the scene of kids playing basketball that does it for him.
1. Natalie Imbruglia, Torn
Great song, pretty girl, falling walls... what more could a 3 year old kid want?
The Masters of Song Fu is series of songwriting constests run by Quick Stop Entertainment. For each contest the contestants must complete a series of songwriting challenges, each of which has specific requirements the songwriter must meet.
Molly Lewis was the winner of the recently completed Song Fu #3. This was her entry for the third challenge.
There are a couple reason I have for posting about this video. It's a great video and it fooled me.
This is the performance he gave at the Secret Policeman's Ball in 2006.
One of the topics that intrigues me is how easily the mind can be fooled, whether by magic, con tricks or optical illusions . Or how sports gamblers consistently repeat the same mistakes or even how coaches and general managers in professional sports leagues can make decisions based on statistics that measure aspects of performance that do not contribute as much to wins as is believed (before he received national attention for his analysis and predictions for the 2008 U.S. Election Nate Silver was known to stats junkies in the baseball community for his research and analysis in that sport).
So what fooled me when I first watched this video? Until Natalie Imbruglia makes her appearance I thought "Johann Lippowitz" was performing to the original recording. And after realizing that Imbruglia was singing live I wondered how I didn't realize it sooner, I'm usually pretty good at hearing the difference between a live or studio performance. In fact, when I watched the video a second time,it was obvious immediately that the vocal performance was live.
So how did I get fooled? A combination of two factors, the music and backing vocals were from the original recording of the song, so I was expecting that the lead vocal would also be from the original recording. But that alone wouldn't have been enough. The other factor was that "Johann Lippowitz" was distracting me, I had not seen him perform before and I was concentrating on his actions. The result was I didn't hear the clues that Imbruglia was performing live, clues that were obvious once "Lippowitz's" performance was no longer new to me.
This is a fun video. I saw this a while back but had forgotten about it, only to be reminded of it the other day when my parents emailed it to my sister. That probably also means that everyone has already seen it. I'll post it anyway.
A Belgium television station created this event as part of an advertising campaign for Belgium's version of How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria.
NeXTStorm created this great piece of theatre using Lego Mindstorms NXT.
You can read more about real pirates in Peter T. Leeson's book The Invisible Hook: The Hidden Economics of Pirates. Read Katherine Mangu-Ward's review to find out more about the book.
Listen to Tank Riot's podcast for a general discussion about pirates.
I recently read an interesting article about Solar Botanic's approach to renewable energy. They are attempting to harness wind and solar energy in a way that is also aesthetically pleasing. They are developing fake trees that they hope will be able to capture wind and solar energy through their 'leaves' and 'branches' (Solar Botanic Nanoleaves).
Here is a very high quality video of a recent performance.
This is a video of Radiohead's performance on Conan O'Brien shortly after the release of the album The Bends. This is a video capture of a video tape of the performance so the video quality is poor. However, the audio is acceptable and the performance is outstanding.
This is an acoustic performance of the song apparently performed around the time The Bends was released.
Finally, here is a link to the original video (the record company doesn't allow embedding of the video).
Dark Night of the Soul is the new album by Danger Mouse (wikipedia) and Sparklehorse (wikipedia). However, due to Danger Mouse's previous legal issues with EMI it was decided not to release the album by conventional means. You can purchase the 'album' for $10, for which you will receive a poster and a blank CD-R. For $50 you will receive a book of photographs by David Lynch (wikipedia) and a blank CD-R.
see also Wired article
The PS22 Chorus has done some pretty impressive work.
Here are videos of the PS22 Chorus singing Fleetwood Mac's Landslide and Crowded House's Don't Dream It's Over.
hat tip Techdirt
Brad Templeton, the chairman of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, created the following parody in response to the takedown notices the studio has ordered on some of the numerous parodies there are of this particular scene from the movie Downfall (Der Untergang).
Canadian copyright law does now allow for parody in its fair dealing provisions.
hat tip boing boing
It was inspired by this advertisement.
In my earlier Deception, Misdirection and Natalie Imbruglia post I discussed my interest in how the mind is easily deceived and controlled. This year I've become intrigued by the research of Dan Ariely (wikipedia). It turns out humans are predictably irrational, baring little resemblance to the rational beings standard economists like to think we are. His book Predictably Irrational is a great read.
Here is an entertaining speech Ariely gave in Dec 2008.