December 8th, 2010

Berkman Lunch Talky

Sorry for the silence here, dear readers. Been a busy month of literal and figurative heavy-lifting. I hope to strike things up again very soon, especially after next Tuesday, my final presentation of the semester, about which I’m very excited. I’ll be appearing in the Berkman Center’s Tuesday lunch series to talk about the “unstable platforms” and “uneasy peers” of brave new world music, which means I’ll have the privilege of a local & global audience of very sharp thinkers about internet architectures & practices. Also, since this is the Berkman Center, who’ve pioneered the webcast thing, you’ll be able to tune-in in realtime. As usual, it’ll be a short talk (15 min) followed by Q&A, please feel free to join us. Details below–

12/14/10, 12:30pm ET, Berkman Center Conference Room @ 23 Everett St., Cambridge, MA
RSVP is required for those attending in person to Amar Ashar (
This event will be webcast live

Topic: “The Unstable Platforms and Uneasy Peers of Brave New World Music”
Guests: Wayne Marshall, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at MIT

Driven by the proliferation of accessible music and video-production software and the connective possibilities of the social web, public culture is being remade in the wake of user-generated content, including the ever curious category of world music. So-called platforms such as YouTube or Jamglue play host to new genres, dance steps, and remixes from around the world, incubating local scenes and circulating aspiring artists’ productions to peers near and far. In contrast to its creation by a consortium of British music-industry players in the 1980s, a multinational network of grassroots producers, DJs, and bloggers are renegotiating and redefining the freighted but inclusive term. But while this bottom-up revision of world music can be seen as a valuable development, queasy connections with its earlier incarnation, and the power relations and ideas about difference it embodied, also persist.

About Wayne

Wayne Marshall is an ethnomusicologist focusing on the musical and cultural production of the Caribbean and the Americas, and their circulation in the wider world, with particular attention to digital technologies. While a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at MIT, he’s writing a book on music, networked media, and transnational youth culture. He recently co-edited and contributed to Reggaeton (Duke University Press 2009) and has published in journals such as Popular Music and Callaloo while writing for popular outlets like The Wire and the Boston Phoenix. He holds a Ph.D. in ethnomusicology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and has taught courses at Brandeis, Brown, University of Chicago, and Harvard Extension School. He is also an active DJ and maintains and runs the blog and website,

This event will be webcast live; for more information and a complete description, see the event web page:


  • 1. Dan  |  December 15th, 2010 at 5:47 pm

    Thanks for giving the talk! It was fascinating and full of unexpected twists and turns.

    I’m not sure if being “geeked/geeked up” in the Jerkin’ sense = identifying as a ‘geek’ in the mainstream, ‘geek culture’ sense of the word, though, at least not in regard to technology. I always thought “geeked up” meant either being high on Ecstasy or something else (see Gucci Mane, “Pillz”) or just being excessively or guilelessly excited (see Sean Garrett, “She Geeked”). It seems like the “geek” in being “geeked up” is the geek as socially awkward misfit, someone who’s not traditionally ‘cool’, rather than the geek as someone who gets excessively excited specifically about technology.

    I think it’s also important that the New Boyz et al. talk about being geeked rather than being A geek; they’re prone to flights of geekiness without identifying as geeks with all the stereotypes that entails. Definitely an interesting topic that could stand a lot more unpacking.

  • 2. wayneandwax  |  December 20th, 2010 at 4:26 pm

    Thanks for the comment, Dan. Yeah, you may be right that I’m projecting a little much to go so far as to say there’s an identification with geekiness or the figure of the geek in jerkin. (Did I go so far? Need to check the tape.) Generally, in my impression, it’s just a way of saying that one’s hyped/excited, whether high on life or something else. Still, it’s a notable contrast from hyphy’s emphasis on getting “dumb,” “stupid,” and “retarded.” And I think there’s more going on there than just doing the opposite of one’s northern dopplegangers.

    And it’s seems more than coincidental, to me anyway, that this marked difference also accompanies an embrace of signifiers either identified with tech culture (sidekicks and such, though one might argue that’s just more broadly a youth/pop culture thing) or with “white culture” (skinny/skater jeans and sneakers, punk/metal/rock tropes) — and the differences those kinds of gestures make in circumstances where showing a zeal for learning, or geeking out about something, might be construed as “acting white.”

    I don’t want to freight jerkin with too much in this regard, but many of the arguments swirling around jerkin videos and on message-board threads often tend to zero in on jerkin’s perceived transgressions of racial and gender mores.


I'm a techno-musicologist, internet annotator, imagined community organizer.

I left my <3 in the digital global, but I reside in Cambridge, MA, where I'm from.

I represent like that.

wayne at wayneandwax dot com

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