Brave You World

Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t mean to sound like Time fckn Magazine or appear too technoptimistic. Indeed, allow me to repeat here — for those who aren’t comment readers — /jace‘s well-put and well-taken anxieties w/r/t web2point0h:

i think most of web2.0 activities is lil autonomous nodes — blogs, youtube uploaders & viewers, myspace clients — people engaged in similar activities in similar spaces but not necessarily collaborating in the general sense of the term, more like people dancing in the same room. much of this is fantastic, of course! here i am, commenting on your blog; yet where i get wary is that much of this latter engagement creates enormous amount of self-mapping (flickr/delicious, etc,) and meta-data, and only big corps like Google or Murdoch have access or ability to scan this, with the possib that their use of the data we generate from blogging & tagging & uploading & linking could be employed to further bend & shape internet-citizen desires, in a weird and contemporary mingling of rhizomatic info drawn up and re-used for top-down (& viral) marketing, advertising, channeling of consumer desire, etc.

i think im saying web2.0 culture is great, but the monetization/meta-data analysis of that culture could easily be applied to uses out of step with web2.0’s XML-y emphasis on collabo, trading, datamashup, sharing, etc.

Couldn’t agree more. Which makes me wary, too. I guess I’m optimistic on the main, however, b/c despite these corporate appropriations (and, nd, shapings) of my/yr/our metamappings, I’m enjoying (immensely) even the limited degree to which we non-corporate entities get to enjoy (and re-shape) feed’n’tagland — and its fruits.

Rather than disengagement, however — not that that’s what Jace is calling for, obv (just look&listen) — these intertwined possibilities and pitfalls (& motivations and desires) seem to call for a massive practice of collabo-curatorial hacktivism (for these fruits are fleeting), fostering DIY/p2p remix/mash culture thru the civilly disobedient sharing and tweaking and linking of things. &thus making eloquent arguments, in discourse and design, against the very status quo that the corporate mining of our metamaps would seem to support. (of course, increased attn to bridging the digital divide, which is to say, the basic distribution of wealth[=wiredness] across the world would help a lot too)

w/r/t more musical matters, this post over @ hometaping is a good reminder of the woefully ephemeral nature of netmedia — notwithstanding (esp when it comes to audio, video, and other cumbersome forms). It’s an inherent impermanence which I’ve been feeling all too acutely of late. (Indeed, I was rather relieved — perverse as it may seem — to find, as I had hoped and expected, that El Perreo Chacalonero Para Niños had reappeared recently on the ol’ Tubosphere. [backstory])

& Here’s another example: I initially put Word the Cat’s Bollywood Omnibus on my World Music syllabus as a nice primer on the classic conventions and remarkable range of Indian film/song. But by the time last week came around, most of the videos embedded in the post had disappeared, rendering the page — with its informed commentary — if not useless, then rather frustrating (such unfulfilled anticipation!). Of course, those videos are probably back up already, which is good, but you never know when the Viacom of India (or Viacom in India) is going to order all curry recipes taken down. (Yes, I jest — but similarly overreaching edicts could no doubt send a chill across the world of “amateur” archivists.) And, moreover, it’s a shame that that fine post has become such a shell of itself, rather than the valuable resource it once was (as I can only imagine most of my own YouTubey posts — like this one! — will become). One can only imagine the possibilities for collective annotation/critique of media of all sorts (from blogs to wikis) if embedded audio and video could be more stably incorporated.

From the perspective of someone teaching a class on world music, something like YouTube, with its myriad examples that are either too recent, too obscure, or too unlicense-able to accompany most texts on the subject at hand (whatever it may be, increasingly), offers a treasure trove of clips (and other forms of discourse) for quick classroom showings. (And dismal, and scatalogical, as the comments can get, they are often also rather useful — at least from a pedagogical perspective — insofar as they quite readily offer up a wide range of stereotypes and other distinctive discursive markers and public debates circulating alongside the music and animating/demonstrating/performing its reception.) Considering how many of us watch YouTube (students included), it’s not a bad idea, either, to encourage each other to read more critically in our travels there, taking apart the frames around the frames to better see the picture.

Krishna knows what a better couple of classes we had last week w/ the ability to conjure up such classic clips as “Yeh Dosti Ham Nahi,” from Sholay, the ComedyOfErrors CurryWestern BuddyFlick par excellence, which, moreover — the song, that is — mashes Bwood strings with Bwhite strings, adds vintage synths and honky-tonk harmonica and does the oddest lil shuffle thru the country:

Or the psychedelic-rockin’, hippie-krishna sendup, “Dum Maro Dum” (translation), as featured in R.D.Burman‘s Hare Krishna Hare Rama and sung by the great playback diva devi, who also happens to be the sister of Lata Mangeshkar (in case you didn’t know), Asha Bosle (between the two of em, they’ve recorded 40,000+ songs [!!]):

which makes a fine juxtaposition, I should note, to the reception and representation of Ravi Shankar at the Monterey Pop festival —

Which reminds me,

wayne&wax (ft. Ravi Shankar and Anti-Gravity), “The Tabla Are the Drums”

I mean, sure, I could no doubt find these films up @ Devon’s Desi corridor, and perhaps I will soon, but there’s something invaluable all the same about having a giant, unruly public repository of individual clips available at a mouseclick, &complete with more commentary than one might care to read. [I mean, I’m sayin, shouldn’t our libraries be archiving this stuff?]

But never mind commercial releases such as those ^^, which could likely (if not so easily) be located in “physical” form (but not necessarily non-piratical) in nuff cities worldwide. How bout vintage (or up-to-the-time) Indonesian dangdut vids? E.g., the following, as shot on super8 (nice touch!) — featuring plenty pictures of everyday (and extraordinary) Jakarta, w/ some oldschool boombox stylee, a lil Latin sabor, and an early90s-obligatory electro-rap to top it off —

or, whynot? — undie Indonesian (Undonesian?) hip-hop:

or p’raps a totally badass Balinese gamelan orch in the heat of competition:

& don’t get me started on Wayang Kulit clips, such as this comical-topical interlude performed by the late Bu Hami, a masterful dhalang who distinguished herself in a field dominated by men:

I’m quite grateful to have access to these. They’re wonderful teaching tools and wonderful things in themselves. Providing examples beyond the std textbook variety, they allow instructors of whirl music® to represent any given “music culture” (the textbook term, tho I dislike the implied borders) with greater range, &as a lively, living, contested thing, &in deeper context — especially as constituted by self-archived/annotated, or even as, if you will, ethnographically-embedded entries. In this sense, never mind the old bottles, YouTube (et al.) = the people’s rough guides, folkways, and sublime frequencies.

So here’s hoping the inherent promiscuity of the digital copy means that such things as the videos above, which could as easily have perished on media several feet underwater, will always be accessible, especially to future generations of Indonesian (and, sure, Indonesianist) interpreters, remixers, & ethnomusibloggers. We certainly can’t count on Google or Murdoch to handle the responsibility.

To wit/bit: Kevin Driscoll made a convincing argument recently (and pointed to some useful tools) w/r/t our stake in making sure all this amazing stuff remains around and available: “As the crackdown on YouTube begins to accelerate,” he warned,

we need to start thinking about creating distributed archives and mirrors. We jeopardize the tremendous library of video being amassed by relying on a single commercial provider. Let’s not repeat the mistakes we made with Napster.

But beyond simply archiving these things ourselves, especially if we want to share with the world as we go, what we need to do to protect ourselves against corporate interests is to make our “uses” of such things incontestably “fair,” i.e., to creatively (and aggressively, decidedly, compellingly) remix, reframe, comment on, and parody other people’s “property” such that we ourselves challenge and change the status quo (at least w/r/t ownership of media/data/info, which is a damn good start).

You down with OPP?