Dial-A-Poem – the original podcasting & I Will Not Pay the Patent

Listening to a great Radio 4 documentary about John Giorno’s Dial-A-Poem and the struggles they had against censorship and content – and they played part of Heathcote Williams’s incendiary – I Will Not Pay Taxes Until. Sadly some of these are still an issue – starting with the Queen and her purse bursting at the seams – and the smashing of the literary establishment and copyright!

These were the first podcasts I think – whatever Personal Audio the patent troll thinks*, and tbh I don’t really care, sue me if you can find me :-P and the explosion of access to poetry, politics, spoken word and even erotic porn (yes porn always leads the vanguard of technology, as much as the conservatives hate it) is a better corrolorary to podcasting than sending tapes in the post (ya rly). Hey EFF! Get John Giorno on the case!

Must say it is rather disturbing trend recently going after the users, though. Surely they should be idemnified by the existing settlements with the products they use, i.e. Apple, etc? If not, that’s a really screwed system and needs to be changed.

Not the first time I came across Dial-A-Poem aka Giorno Poetry System (GPS)- I came across a great podcast about it on Avant Garde All The Time years ago which is still up and well worth listening to also (it’s the first podcast they did, so currently #17 on that list).

* As I said on the request for prior art – as well as suggesting Dial-A-Poem, I said Personal Audio you can take my podcast from my cold, dead hands…especially as a US Patent, it doesn’t stand here…you’re welcome to spend silly money on UK courts though (US ruling would be ignored, patent infringement isn’t good enough for extradition!). Jim Logan, I refer you to Heathcote and his statement on taxes & copyright and I don’t owe you money. You do owe everyone else for wasting their time, though.

Follow Your Dreams – CANCELLED

Hot on the heels of sharply funny/true/sad The Onion article Find The Thing You’re Most Passionate About, Then Do It On Nights And Weekends For The Rest Of Your Life which many of my creative friends have been forwarding to each other with a mix of sadness and humour, is this Banksy artwork via Redshift.

It’s the infection of the Protestant work ethos to leisure time – the concept of the Leisure Class now is very much gone unless you are super-rich.

Sadly both reveal the big problem with the current way things are going, what I call The New Creative Economy – do it in your spare time, but can you please apply commercial levels of polish and finish to something you provide for free, plz? It’s why I get a little, umm, tetchy when people criticise what I do in my spare/non-working time and apply their BBC/commercial level filters to what is a no-funded non-profit production. When you kick back they look like wounded puppies, having never thought that such an entitled Consumer viewpoint of the world is part of the problem in this new ‘post-work’ economy.

Or Capitalism in general, it provides a ‘barrier to entry’ for those outside the system, not just of production values but also ideological and philosophical differences. When the first approach is to moan ‘Why Oh Why Oh Why BBC!’ that’s a real management problem, as well as all the classic lego blocks of privilege, entitlement and passive consumption. I suppose when I look at the lovingly crafted videos, sculptures and mashups featured on the likes of Boing Boing as well as ‘that’s cool’ I tend to also think ‘fuck how long did that take?’ in a similar fashion to when I see a piece of advertising or go onto a corporate site I wonder which overworked freelancer created that…and probably got no credit.

So if only those who can make a living from it can create to the desired ‘bloggable’ level what of this ‘expectancy bubble’? Will it collapse? Or will it just hide trust-fund bunnies and sponsorship/corporate interest under a badge of independent work? That’s what happened to podcasting and the record industry – interesting when people share things online they don’t really think of the work, funding and underlying politics (or factual correctness sadly) of the item their share. It’s a drive-by interest hit, but it’s problematic for several reasons I detail below.

It’s what I was trying to fight with podcasting – YOU ARE THE MEDIA being the starting point to a shift in how people consume and create media; because when you face such attitudes to what you create you realised how the whole system is stacked against the small/amateur producer, the non-profits, those who aren’t what I call ‘gatekeepers’ (the trusted gateways to ‘approved’ content – the Stephen Fry’s, BBC, the Josh Whedons etc). Thinking back this probably was how I got radicalised, when you share something and people just pick holes it tends to make you re-evaluate not just the work itself, but the process, the system and whether their assessment is not only correct but the set of filters, biases, prejudices etc. that come with their judgement. Are they correct? What environment are they judging within? Do those cognitive filters stack up or are they a pile of Jenga about to fall down? I do this for fun, supposedly. How did it come to be, or seen to be by others, as work?

It took me a long time of soul-searching to realise Beverley Crusher style it’s not me then it’s the universe, that people’s way of consuming art and culture and their expectations are skewed, that the status quo is a Death Tango between The Big 4 and Big Media and the voracious expectations of the audience, who are as complicit in this as the corporates. Interestingly people claim they are not, they’re cool, they’re down with teh kids, that indymedia is wicked yo, but then switch on X-Factor and tune out in a haze of corporate mind-washing. It’s what people do, rather than what they say, as ever.

Free your mind, and your media will follow. But do you want to be free? Or do you expect to be plate-fed but that media comes to you for free but be original/cool/wevs? That costs – either in time or money. Are you willing to pay – in attention as much as in $$$s – in more than a drive-by ‘Like’? Because I can’t take likes down the shop to buy bread and roses you know. It’s why the new economy is problematic – I don’t believe the old ‘cottage industry’ or ‘auteur’/’artist’ approach is working, but there’s nothing much to replace it other than free – and I’m not proposing a Victorian step back to stem filesharing as that isn’t the problem, or the cause. In fact that’s one of the few ways to slip past those gatekeepers.

No, the problem is how people consume media nowadays – fostered by the corporates who have big pockets. The fact they choose to moan about their lickle blog being taken away by Levenson when they didn’t say a peep about drones or ACTA or even Levenson also speaks volumes – which might sound contradictory but it’s not – you can create within a small hype cycle, Burn Cycle as I’ve called it here and never go out of the approved DMZ of corporate or gatekeeper thinking. Look at Tumblr or Instagram for instance. How many people are being paid to write or tweet what they do? Or bribed via freebies. It’s all a cycle, a drone cycle.

RIP Minidisc

Sony finally calls it a day on Minidisc.

Although pretty much all of the Radio Clash podcasts from 2006-2010 were recorded on Hi-MD minidisc (a RH910) and had several earlier MD recorders (a blue MZ-R91 a Sharp in the late 90s), I’m not surprised. The original nor relaunched formats never took off in the mass market, and lost ground in the niche recording markets due to Sony’s silly approach to closed systems such as DRM and encryption in ATRAC3plus, lack of support for Linux and a delay in supporting modern OS systems (if you used ATRAC it meant you were reliant on their software, and took a while to update on OSX, and Sonicstage was very buggy).

I stopped recording on Minidisc when I lost the whole of RC 190 due to a power cut in the middle of a transfer which meant the whole show was lost for good. Something that would have been partly or fully recoverable on old Minidisc, but Hi-MD’s ATRAC3plus is encrypted, which meant if there’s any problem with the disc then you can’t recover any of it. Sony refused to release the encryption keys even in the final days of the format, hence limited Linux support for ATRAC3plus (unless someone managed to reverse engineer it in the end?)

Maybe Sony will do the honest thing and open up the encryption and allow people to transfer out their recordings losslessly now from ATRAC3plus, and help the enthusiast community keep the legacy of recordings alive, but I’m not holding my breath. Shame because for a while Minidisc offered great portable quality for the DIY and professional recordist; and probably still the best microphone auto gain circuitry ever (something about recordings on MD that seems to bring out the best on certain microphones, none of this harsh ‘booming’ saturation, but a gentle gain curve that still sounds good) but they hobbled their own format keeping it closed and proprietary.

I now own and record on a Sony PCM M10, which records solid state as WAV and none of this silly proprietary format business. I hope Sony have learned their lesson over that, but again I won’t hold my breath…

Happy Birthday To Me, Happy Birthday To Me

I forgot, Radio Clash Podcast – the first mashup podcast and I think the oldest UK podcast still running, or at least the oldest continous UK music podcast anyhoos (?) turned 8 last week – the first one was on 29th November 2004. I feel old.

The blog came a few months later, Jan or Feb 2005…but amazingly still podcasting, still blogging, still going! Business as usual, so I forgot to celebrate it. The cake is a lie, anyway.

(cake image from Animated Cupcakes via this blog)

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