Mar 21

Mix06: MySpace

The team from MySpace were on stage this morning talking about the application and how they have used the Microsoft technologies to support the 60million users it has signed up. The use and SQL server as infrastruture and recently moved to .net 2.0 for the home pages. In doing so, they reduced CPU usage from 85% down to 27% and cut the number of servers from 246 down to 150. All in all fans of the technology.

On the other side of MySpace, there’s a great paper from Danah Boyd about how people are using myspace, how it is supporting and driving a change of culture:

What we’re seeing right now is a cultural shift due to the introduction of a new medium and the emergence of greater restrictions on youth mobility and access. The long-term implications of this are unclear. Regardless of what will come, youth are doing what they’ve always done – repurposing new mediums in order to learn about social culture.

Technology will have an effect because the underlying architecture and the opportunities afforded are fundamentally different. But youth will continue to work out identity issues, hang out and create spaces that are their own, regardless of what technologies are available.


Mar 20

Mix06 – using Atlas

I’m not here for the all the real programming info that they are throwing out – in my area the challenge is to know about things just enough so that I can have a reasonable conversation with Technical Managers or developers; that’s the reason I need to know just enough about marketing as well, I have to sit in the middle of multiple teams.

So I’m sitting here in a presentation about Atlas, the development framework that Microsoft is releasing. Now, much is over my head but I am picking up the following:

  • the framwork has been developed so that a developer in does not have to learn too much new stuff to implement
  • that it has been set up in such as way that you can incrementally add asynch updates to web pages by moving chunks of code into tag sets called Update Panels, and you can add thes epanels over your page. So it does not need huge re-writes to start implemeneting the richness an dsmoothness that AJAX can bring to the web
  • the javascript modules provided in the kit are cross-browser, OS and platform compatible. So you can run this platform on a LAMP server, you do not need on the server. The’;ve demonstrated on a MAc/Safari and on Firefox
  • To use Atlas without, you can pull off all the client modules, but wil need to builds out the server side stuff. There was a demo with a php page and a call to people to start working with php and Atlas.
  • lots of extenders will be built (and released as source code) to increase the modules and functionality available.

A lot of what they appear to have done is make things simpler. This type of coding has been around for a while – it’s just been difficult, this tries to reduce the need to write the javascript (is that a good thing?).



Mar 20

Mix06 – AdCenter

A failry short presentation about the Adcentre works. Targeted at online advertisers, both the small and the large, Adcenter is a way of managing campaigns. It’s an area that Microssoft are focusing heavily on and have a lot of research minds focused on the net generation.

Currently, the drive is on to gieve better targeted information about consumer behaciour, so that advertisers can understand why people are clicking, not just what they are clicking. The case study shown was about ‘bleach’, which would be targettted at 28-45 yo women. But the search behaviour showed that it was far younger men who were clicking – becuase Bleach is also the name of a manga character. Undersntading that allowed the customer to target the ad, remove geographies and other terms from the search and therefore be more effective in RoI.

They also demonstrated new ad techniques – adding hotspots/ads to IPTV/digital TV to allow users to rollover specific spots on the video and then link out to the web pages – ie like some clothing being worn by your favourite star? If the video has been tagged you can click and link out and find out about it – and hopefully buy. And as it’s IPTV, then the programme would have been paused and you can go back to the point to continue watching. Some clever stuff coming out there.


Mar 20

Mix06 – No power

They ask you to tag blog posts, Flickr photos with Mix06. There’s technorati searches, there’s a whole bunch of bloggers here. The wireless appears to be holding up well. This should be an interactive conference.

So how much interaction will there be later as everyone’s batteries die as there are minimal powerpoints in the halls and none in the session rooms that I’ve found yet. Need more power! It;s too difficult to live blog this as it back to paper and pen


Mar 20

Mix06 – first day

Finally got in..America West landed early and it was an easy trip to town. Unlike some of the UK journalists who got stuck in LA for a long time after their planes got cancelled. Got wirelessed up and checked feeds, saw Ben’s post on the strangeness of this place. Entirely agree..sitting down at the bar to get a drink after the flight, I was confronted with in-bar touch screens to play whilst I drink – not quite what I’m used to. Far too many slot machines for comfort – but at least I have somewhere to put the pennies!

First morning was a keynote from Bill Gates and then presentations about IE and the next web browser. A couple of announcements:

  • a new version of IE7 beta to download (pity the installer chashed the first time round!)
  • new Atlas Licence and developer kit to download for free. Now everyone can use the kit to build Atlas (Ajax) technologies.

There was a very neat demonstration of building an Atlas web app onstage – looks so easy to do even to me, a complete non coder.


Mar 20

Austin to Vegas – last day and Snow Patrol


Originally uploaded by RachelC.

I’m now leaving Austin to travel to Las Vegas. Austin was great..and weird. Apparently an island of sanity in the state of Texas. Not having chance to visit the rest of the state, I’ll stay happy in my ignorance of what the rest of it is like.

Austin was laid back and pretty welcoming to the 10000 visitors that appeared to descend on it over the last week. Everything seemed to run well. i’d recommend the buses – 50c to anywhere, even on the one I caught tonight to the airport.

I caught my final gig yesterday afternoon; The Subways, Nine Black Alps and the best one I say all week – a ‘surprise’ acoustic set by Snowpatrol, who were just brilliant.

Now I’m off to Vegas for Mix06, the Microsft ’72 hour conversation’. Again, I have a complimentary ticket, through the kindness of Tara Hunt who passed her complimentary ticket onto me. So there will be a fiar bit of blogging from that conference as well as my planned trip to the Grand Canyon.

Mar 19

SXSW – Billy Bragg Interview: don’t form a band, get a blog!

The Blurb: “Billy Bragg comes to Austin on the occasion of the reissue of four albums: Life’s a Riot with Spy vs Spy, Brewing Up with Billy Bragg, Talking with the Taxman about Poetry, and The Internationale, on Yep Roc Records. Always fighting the good fight, Bragg has addressed political and personal themes in his music with an unblinking honesty.

Billy Bragg
Rick Karr neuUNIT(US) Inc”

Q: I;ve been just been talking to Chrissie back stage and she said to say hi.
A: I’ve been a fan of Bob Dylan for years…and did not go to see him live…and Chrissie dragged me there…and beforehand went backstage, to arrange a meeting..but I could not do it..could not meet him and say I love your I ran away. I got my first Dylan record by swapping the Jackson 5 greatest hits..a hightly produced record for something so shocking and raw..I could probably bang out all the songs out now..then I spent a lot of time listening to singer-songwriters..up to punk I was listening to not much else. When singing, I was trying to marry the urgency of punk with the single intensity…that focus of the entire audience on a single figure.

Q: But that can’t have been an easy marriage?
A: no, it was not..and if you listen to my first album..(re-released) with the new one with un-released songs…which were mostly tracks from after the band and trying to be solo…they did not have that edge…I was trying to do this at a time the New Romantics were coming to the fore..I needed to do something that cut through the lacquered singing acoustic songs did not work..they needed I wrote New England..that got audiences attention..(both of them!) I thought that it may be worth exploring.

Q: Your guitar technique is really interesting…you are almost trying to be the drummer and guitarist.
A: In the punk band I was in..the rhythm guitar was only noticed if I stopped…you would hear the gap…I was a big fan of Wilco Johnson..he played a rythmic lead guitar…I think of guitar as a percussive instrument..when I play live I provide melody from my voice, the percussion from the guitar. Yesterday, I tried to play the first album in 15 mins…not quite but I got through it in 17 mins..I could play my complete box set in 2 hours..I’m sure i could do it.

Q: How do you relate to material a couple of decades after – have you listened to it?
A: Not really..if I’m going to a gig at which I may want to play a particular song I will. But context is everything in a topical song. When I do use a band..I need to listen and deconstruct..but when playing solo not hugely different to recording the record. The difference is about 30lb and grey hairs, but I still play it the same way. What was nice that I felt listening is that they would sound as out of place now as they did in 1983..not really any scene just the outgoings of this mad guy who would not let go of punk rock.

Q: I was listening to these records at university. With my peers there was an a-ha momen…you can make a political record that does not beat you over the head..that was not boring. How did you think people in US would take those records?
A: They are very english. I was opening for Echo and the Bunnymen…I was vaguely hip..and cheap…no fuss…no gear to take down…they gave me this incredible intro to America… I went to places I’ve never been back to…I went out on stage and played…the shock of one guy with an electidc guitar and a london accent repulsed 85% but really attracted the 15%, who then went out and bought the record. The second tour I opened for the Smiths..which was good..the English press had a better impression in the US by then..those who were reading the Uk papers…i fitted into that..but I had little in common with Smiths or Bunnymen. But if you are in the US and you wanted to be a bit strange to your parents..I was high ‘turn that shit off value’ to the parents.

Q: may parents rebelled when you recorded the International
A: I recorded it ‘cos Pete told me to…I went to Canada in 1989..Pete said I want you to come on and sing the English lyrics..but they are just shit, I didn’t know what thay meany. So Pete said just write a new verse; he translated the French version and gave me that to work on. And you can’t say no to Pete, so I went and wrote one verse..and tried a few more..and tried it out on a few people…they all said go for it. Now left wing choirs in England sing my lyrics..they want me to go and sing but I can’t remember the words.

Q: Did the audiences in US understand the politics
A: They did; the US politics were less idealological than in UK. We had gone through the miners’ strike and I was fired up by that. The gay campaigns, Nicuaragua..these single issue movements, these people just found me out. I’d go to a town and local activists would find me. So when I come out on stage and talk they think I’m so clued in..but people have briefed me. In the US it is a different kind of activist; so I plugged into all that kind of stuff. One thing was being able to buy records of groups I did not hear in UK; the political stuff..I kind of found that political America that was there…that it is there. I played at the soup kitchen this morning and met this guy; he played some passionate union songs…there’s a lot of people out there doing that.

Q: We were talking about UK politics..and how they shook out in the 80s…there was a political edge to pop in different levels that seemed to go away in 90s.
A: when Thatcher went in 1990, the way of going, assassinated by her own party, it robbed those who opposed her of a was a pyhrric victory. I was in Belfast and I walked onto stage and said Thatcher had resigned and the place went bonkers. We thought we would win the next election but it was an anticlimax. For a lot of people Major was the final straw. We were so exhausted both emotionally, physically and mentally; Thatcher was gone and we were not in…people went to find another way to find a compassionate society. Me and my partner went to start a family; it had been a very heavy time. For someone like some ways he was a placebo politician..nobody knew much about him…then he was followed by Blair..another placebo…he was pretty. We are in same situation now..what does the Labour party stand for. All these things have been privatised; Labour has not pushed it back and connected with their collective ideals. Now the conservative party are moving to the centre..the liberals are in the centre…we are in danger of moving to what you have here..politics as a matter of bumbling along..,not a huge difference. Voter participation was less than 50%…from post war to ’97 we averaged 75%..never below 70%; in 2001 it went to 59%. That was shocking..the Labour party said everyone knew we would win..but people are switching off;they have lost the belief that politics can change things and I find that troubling.

Q: Why do you think your peers (clash, Paul Weller etc)…why is there a tradition of political activisim and it is so stunted here?
A: See the differece between the Ramones and the Clash..they stood for something, world-class posers. It seemed to me that the Ramones were a product of a back-to-basics movement; rejected mainstream in ’70s..they decided it was anathema..they went back to the garage…back to ’60’s and they were impersonating the British; the way they looked was important. The Ramones went back to that and tightened it..they were incredibly disciplined. The Clash were also a product of back-to-basics..a rejection..but London in 1970s was different to New York in ’70s. The UK had the National Front..they were picking up votes in council elections, in my area they picked up 100000 votes. Punk when it first started had a kind of ambiguously fascist vibe to outrage people. In the August Bank Holiday (77?), things came to a head. On the Friday, at the Reading Rock Festival a white English audience bottled off two reggae acts. The audience had taken sides. Then on Saturday night the Sex Pistols played in London; the fans danced on stage wearing swastika armbands and brown shirts. I saw a burgeoning fascist movement. The next day was the Notting Hill Carnival. That night they had 200 police to deal with it (the year before there had been a lot of drunkeness). They were in the black area..there was a standoff between black youths and police; the first time, black youth born and bred…they were standing up and saying you are not going to push it.

Strummer had gone down to the the melee they joined in and threw stuff at the police. They found themselves cornered by a group of black youth who then tried to mug them. But in their pockets they had bottles and rocks,; the youths realised they were there for the same reasons. Joe and Paul realised whose side they were on..they came away convinced they had more in common with black youth than the police. They wrote White Riot; it was saying that white youth should fight alongside the black one. They connected politics and punk in an important way and the main outcome was Rock against Racism. The first one in ’78, I went to see the Clash play..there were 100000 people – one for each NF vote. And I realised that despite the racism I saw everyday, I realised that I was not alone and there were a lot of people against racism. That is when my generation took favour of multiculturism..of a mixed society…when Thatcher came in we had already been politicised. There were other factors.,..but that one weekend..thanks to the Clash it did not go that way, that was a crucial time for my country and for punk rock..that connection with reggae stopped it being a narrow white urban thing.

Q: But bands in NYC were listening to hip hop etc, they knew that scene
A: The black and asian groups had not made their claim to be part of the society. We had not had a Civil Rights Movement. It took that first black generation to stand up, and punk went along with this. It was the time..a lot of us were pissed off with the hippies who promised to change the world and they did not. They left us with long hair and trenchcoats. The ’50s etc were the last generation to grow up without rock in the mainstream; when the image of Bowie could outrage our’s harder to upset people and make a difference and stand out now. ‘Cos we had that difference..we remember our fight..why we had to fight to get it heard…we feel…people play be alternative music..and I’m like, I remember what this is supposed to be alternative to..don’t play me this shit…that’s just metal speeded up.

Q: You’re working on a book?
A: I’ve been writing it for the last year and a half. Inspired by what we were talking about. It touches on the Anglo-Saxons..the Celts and the touches on belonging..the debate about Britishness or Englishness. Multi-culturism is now mainstream. London is the main multi-cultural city and we are proud of that, but everyone has a different definition but no one defines Britishness. So how can you have a debate when no one defines things. It’s a big issue to us. When something happens like the July bommbers, the right wing press say these Muslim bombers with British is the multi-culturism, it’s your fault. This is happening at teh same time as a rise in fascism in europe..Netherlands. In the UK, the British National Party, they are winning seats again, they won a seat in my home town; no-one saw it comong, they won 52%. This really shocked me..made me think who am I, where do I come mother/sister still live there. I’m proud of where I come from…it’s an industrial town..high housing..unemployment high..the forces of globalisation have rent havoc in my home time invisibly..(Barking). These new comers..unfortunately become a manifestation of these forces of change and the British National Party is stirring it up. I thought thought I could do another album…or try and define it and write a book. It’s been a challenge and I’ve never done this before, hopefully it will be done by Easter. When I get to the summit and see what I’ve written and I will think back to that day in ’78…and how hard and high I have climbed. And think that flame that Strummer lit still burns and I’ve stopped writing those little songs and I’ve written a fucking big book..after 80000 words I’m sure I feel that way.

Q: I’ve always got the sense that there is a kind of patriotism
A: Well the book is called The Progressive Patriot.
Q: Take back that word.
A: Nothing wrong with patriotism..but it’s too narrow a definition for many people. Both our country’s have benefited from diversity. That’s what kept our culture bad would have the Beetles been if they only listened to English bands. Our great skil is taking influences from everywhere, repackaging and selling it to the Americans. You have to reposess these words and these symbols. I come to austin, and everyone’s view of the US and Texas gets turned upside down. All the worst things in the US seem to manifest itself in Texas and to know that Austin is here, a beacon for weirdness, is in my heart. When I think about America, I think about places like this; a community..collectivity and compassionate and caring – there is another America out there. The difference between the 2 parties at the last election is so close. It’s all still to play for. America has not yet worked out what it is going to be like in the 21st century. You need to reconnect with radical convention. And that is what the book is about. We chopped our king’s head off long before Europe and the US got there. We were seeking to hold our kings to account. The Magna Carta, George Orwell, Tom Payne. You need to reconnect. It explains what we do today, that what we are doing is not in isolation. In the miners’ strike I was going out and singing. And there were all these old guys who were more radical than I was. It is a 200 year old tradiiton, the tradition carries on. It’s great to know that you are not working in isolation.

Q: How do you get more…mainstrean artists involved. Is there ever going to be another Clash? a British pop band being political?
A: You can’t make great political music in a vaccumm. The Pistols to bring out God Save the Queen in a Jubilee year. When you live in that, so clearly defined you can push back. It was them and us..there is still a them but the are many us’s. If I was a kid today. and wanted to change the world..I would not go all to the touble of a song and a band can get a blog easliy..get on the web..make a community..nurture your ideas. You don’t need to form a band for activitism today. There are other ways of doing the activism. But there are people; Pete Docherty in his more lucid moments, Hard-fi, Kaiser Chiefs…we live in a different age. Politics moves in different ways; punk was not as organised as Live Aid. Punk was a brawl rather than a debate..I’d like to think rock music could start that brawl again, but probably not by using the Clash template. You can’t go round kicking 19 year olds and asking them to go change the world.

Q: What about in the US? Is the political situation in US worse now than when Thatcher was at her darkest? Which is worst?
A: Not been here in 18 months and I live in a kind of bubble; but appears worse than in ’80s; Society is more polarised. In ’80s there was resistance to Reagan but he was not embarassing. The war has disfigured the politics; even Republicans are being embarrased by Bush. I think the opposition to Iraq is starting to build up..and what happened in Katrina is starting to open people’s eyes. In the UK it was the Second World war, when urban kids were sent to the country to stay in houses that people realised how poor the poor were. As a result we got education, heath care.

The welfare state had its roots in a meeting Churchill had with Roosevelt. Roosevelt was having trouble getting the Senate to support the war; he wanted to know the War Aims, why was Churchill fighting; what was he fighting for. He had to put something together; the aims included social security, we could not go back to the ’30s. There was a vision of access to healthcare/security and education. And it was widely reported – the Atlantic Charter. The countries all signed up to this charter and people in Britain started to work out how to do this; not Churchill,as he, undertandably, wanted to win the war. But the Beveridge Report set out how to do it. They produced a little summary report for 3d..and my grandfather collected all this stuff for my father. There are still in his house..I have the 3d copy of the Beveridge Report. As far as my father thought, this is what they were fighting for. That was what made a difference to my life, I benefitted from that. The case in the book is a case for that collective provision, a compassionate society ‘cos of the sacrifices in the war. And we are betraying that promise, that generation, they fought the war for democracy and that delivered that compassionate society. It is a great irony that it was Roosevelt that made Churchill do it, even if the US did not benefit from it. You can’t get to Britishness without going to the Second World War. If I could do this in a song I would!

AudQ: The song Sexuality? Can you give us more information?
A: It was written with Jonny Marr from The Smiths; he bought a completely different sensibility to it. He went off to other places..his pop sensibilities made it playable on the radio. It is based on experiences with working with the Gay and lesbian community. They played an important part in Hackeny and Rock against Rascism. Tom Robinson was top of one bill; he had a song Glad to be Gay; and during the set all the blokes started kissing. And I’d never met an out gay man It did not take long to realise that fascists were opposed to anyone who is different. So that was why there were gays there even though I thought it was for the blacks. I did it as I realised that anyone could have their world changed as I was. They, by their example , changed my perspective. That is the highest thing you can do, challenge the perspective of the audience. The truth is if you want to change the world only the audience can do it, not the performer…together, collectively, we can change the world.. I’d always wanted to write a song about this political issue. I needed to step out of the blokey space to where we were in the same struggle and the song was an attemopt to do that. It was at the height of homophobia and I wanted to write a song that was a marker like that and wanted it to be a celebratory song. Sometimes people sing it to me in supermarkets and it can be embarassing.

Mar 18

SXSW: Pretenders Interview

The Blurb: Pirate Radio,” a unique box set from Rock and Roll Hall of Famers the Pretenders, is out on March 14. Three days later, the band speaks in a very special SXSW Interview. Chrissie Hynde, Martin Chambers, Adam Seymour, and Nick Wilkinson discuss the retrospective, and look forward to their 2006 tour and future projects.

That was the reality only Chrissie is on stage. This was not the easiest of interviews, unlike the Beastie boys who set out to entertain as a way of not answering, Chrissue was very clear when she did not want to talk about something.

Again, Q: Interviewer and A: Chrissie Hynde. As much as posible is verbatim..with paraphrsing in areas where the talk was too fast.

Q: Have you listened to the whole lot on Pirate radio?
A: no…not all together
Q: do you listen to songs and think that this could be a pretenders?
A: there’s’s rock. the rule is it needs to not suck

Q: did you ever think this is demanding too much?
A: I do have a normal life…on stage it’s’s a fantasy of other people that it is different. I was the same person when i was waiting on tables..I don’t know how to answer that…it’s not that special

Q: when you were a reporter, did you think you could do it better
A: no not really. i was interviewing….all these people..who were great

(From audience)
Q: where do you get your haircut
A: a guy called kevin in a shop called Reubens in London
Q (aud) are you going to write your own memoirs
A: I have made some attempts…some little stories and things..I’m really not a writer..I can just about eek something out..feel writing not really up to it
Q: were you studying art
A: supposed to be
Q: you went to london and made a living as a writer and then there a transferable gene/talent
A: it seems some people can…

Q: to do what you do you need 2 different need to go off by yourself to create and then join the circus and perform
A: it’s pretty fun and not like a hardship…the thing not comfortable with is that it’s a big deal made of it…it’s a into a band so would not have to have a career..did not think it was going to be a celebrity..when I got a band it was not like people in bands were a celebrity..the rock and roll hall of fame…uncomfortable with it…it’s a big industry thing…I was told it was an honour..everyone thinks that they know how you should feel
Q: the Neil Young thing..he inducted you and you performed with him
A: that was the fun part..although I cut him off in a solo, don’t think he liked that..I just wanted to get out of there but he could go all night

Q: Why did Neil Young do the induction?
A: i had toured with him..but did not know how it happened

Q: you were at Penn Kent the demo when the shooting were done
A: I knew Miller..he was in my crowd..he would have been pleased that Neil had written that song..
Q: Was that a life changing moment for you, or just an historical moment that you intersected?
A: life changing? dunno
Q: it did not drive you to go to england?
A: no..i just wanted to see the world..I was not doing too well at axhool..i looked at NationL Guard..all young..all our age,..guarding a shell that we had burnt down…they should not have been there..the atmostphere on campus was anti war..and they had guns..and they shot into the crowd and they looked like us..just thought did not want to be involved in this on either side

Q: as an american living in England over the years… do you have to defend the US?
A: what’s their to defend?
Q: don’t people lecture you on the evils of the US?
A: no, that does not happen..I’m probably in their’s not the evils of an’s the evils of individuals…who condone intollerance, bigotry…who lack compassion or understanding…no ones gets into an administration and thinks we are going to be really corruyp and fuck them up..unless organised crime..and then they are being honest…it’s too easy to rail into the government…it’s inevitable as a consequence of previous actions….so when I come back to the US and see cities razed by malls and cars…I’m crying over this…but realise they were not built to last…the gay community has really saved america with the pink dollar..moving into areas…after being away for 30 years can see this happening…the heart of cities were being left…but then being rennovated…thank you my gay brothers and sisters for saving my neighbourhood and now it is being restored and families are moving back in….in the US there now appears to be a real trend against suburbia and they are trying to get people to move back into downtown..people my age were too busy having their householder years..but no people are coming back..the youth culture is not really a culture anymore…hypnotised by the technological malaise that is going on..only the old guard who reads books etc are trying to do something after we fucked up

Q: let’s go back to rock…you moved to london..and hanging out…the buddies you hang out with turn into the clash..and people in the store turn into the Sex Pistols..was there not a moment when you thought what about me..I’m good at this
A: not quite like that..I was just trying to get my band together…I did not quite fit in so worked out in the end ok..
Q: incredible that you were all hanging out in the same social group..Joe Strummer said…’was looking at it as a very male centred group..and here was Chrissie doing these songs…’
A: some of my songs/lines are on the first Clash album…but we were going in different directions..I was way too musical for the punk scene..after 6 months when they all started to learn to play…it was not punk anymore…that scene was …well…

Q: you were in a band in Paris?
A: yes..and a few others…a few false starts..but important

Q: then you meet 3 guys from the sticks.
A: hereford. known for cattle..and the SAS.
Q: these 3 guys come into town
A: not quite like that..Lemmy told me about a drummer..and I went and found him.,and he introduced me…I’ve talked about this.
Q: but not to this team
A: go on the internet…something I’ve never done (gone on the internet)

Q: the sound you made was not like any sound..
A: I lucked out..good things take a long time (bad things happen fast)
Q: Jimmy did not like punk…
A: only when we played together did I know he was the one..did not take a lot for him either as he listened to the songs

Q: when you did Brass in Pocket did you think it was going to move your life forward
A: I never thought..I only thought about not working tables, my band…making songs…but it was never meant to get bigger and bigger…never like it I was going to be the best band in the it’s a sport…but in my days sports and music did not co-exist
Q: but you were taking off..on covers etc
A: but you can’t take this thing personally…but you have to pull back…if I walked down the street I would love it if only 2 guys just say ‘hey nice one’ and recognise me..don’t want everyone on street to know who I am…why would I want to leave my house with a don’t have to take an intelligence test to be a celebrity..why put yourself in jail..why want that…so you have to pull back
Q: you had an advantage of being able to observe from the the a journalist
A: yes…but it ws not that, you have to go by your instincts…you can’t control things., can’t control press and if you think you can you will get a big surprise…you can try not to court the press want your life with people you why talk about private life in public and destroy it…there’s a lot of things that should be kept in the should keep the lid on stuff..and that’s not being smart that’s my survival instinct
Q: you have a better survival instinct than most
A: well fuck them..this is just me
Q: bands thinks that if they get famouns than everyone likes you..but it is the same percentage as the rest of the can’t turn fame off though.
A: lucky enough to have worked all my life..did not have welfare…handouts from government were really looked down on…I worked at jobs..not what I wanted to do..but what I really did not want to have was a career..avoided being trapped…when I got into a band I thought that this was cool..and was not going to throw it away…too many young people go onto a tour..and miss it later…had advantage of having to work first before I got the band

Q: do you find yourself getting more american here?
A: yes..and when come to places like this..yesterday I was speaking like madonna and today I’m american again..never lost accent, I can sing the star spangeld banner..on last tour I went round bars and offered 100 dollars to people to sing the song and nobody did it!

Q: 2 of the 4 pretenders died in a very short time..chemical accidents and personalities etc..was it related to you being famous?
A: it was not unrelated to the fact they were doing drugs…
Q: but was that easier because you were famous?
A: it can be calling card..drugs to get backstage
Q: the death of 2 friends..the personal drama and trauma of it…there must have been a point when you thought about solo..or get out of biz
A: it’ll never happen..thought about getting out of a rocker it is my duty to goof off a lot..solo?..I prey to god that will never happen..I like bands..not that interesting on my role on the stage is to make my guitar player look’s a’s a marriage, I like works..only time i joined a club or be part of’s sacred..the 4 piece rock band is sacred to me

Q: there was that period of the black pretenders..
A: music lovers don’t hear music based on here music and know when it is right for you… when I had TM and did not sound like an english pop group..and I did not know it was going that way. If I ever make an album again ..I hope it is a real band album…if you keep doing same thing all the time you feel a little try stuff in studio,..too many overdubs…if I listen to box set (the fish I’m here to sell) I listen and ask what the hell I was thinking..I was all over the place…but for my money I prefer the rock stuff that sounds like a band

Q: Adam joined the band..permanament guitar..and Martin coming back,,and you went back on the road..the sound has changed again
A: my kids were little can’t always be on the road
Q: 8 years..
A: a lot of people do it..especially when kids…and more men should do it. it’s not a long time…
Q: I was curious…
A: When I was touring with Neil Young and I say all that tie-die and white pony flashbacks keep coming
Q: During the time at home, raising kids..did you see the tour as something you used to do?
A: I made records during this time…I don’t want this to be a career..this box set would have comeout with or without me..and if they were going to do it. I’d rather it was with me..and it’s not accurate..I’ve tried to make it rock..i pulled it back..removed the dregs..grateful to rhino for initiating it..can take a look and think..the poster is great…S K Wilson (esclay?)

Q: you said if I did another that true, you may not?
A: not planning on it..I dunno…I might do…this icon and legend stuff…you know it’s bullshit
Q: people who say that are usually icons and legends. Do you not have some tunes going?
A: I never pick up a guitar if not making albums..not really, no..I have things to do..if I have a boyfriend etc
Q: is there the thought that you have to go back and make an album
A: i don’t need the money..would do if want to make an album
Q: so what are martin and adam doing?
A: I dunno..what’s it to me..I’m not responsible for other people…they can do what they like
Q: you fired martin from the band for a long time..that must have ruffled feathers
A: it’s not a nice thing to tell someone..i don’t think he was ever angry with me…he was not playing very well,,and when then when I went to see (did not catch)..I thought that was good..and I was missing him..he can do things that other people can’t (like wind me up like fuck for a start) but he was not playing well and my allegiance was to the music not personal…he had gone out and got his stuff together..he was too much Martin from the pretenders..I don’t have to tell you! If I want to sack someone I will…I had my reasons..I was careful with what I did…even Bernie and TM they didn’t care..they had better things to do anyway

Q: From Him to Her..i thought that could have been a single
A: Maggie. (from High school) .i heard some of her songs from her friend..there was a couple of songs I wanted to do…she was not bothered if I did them or not..was not trying to tout her thing…but I did From Him to Her
Q: do other high school friends send you songs?
A: no..I still go back..I rent a place

Q: “I’m a mother” is not on the box set…some of them really dealt with being a women and a mother..’Money talks’ the lyrics there..
A: “you can buy a squidgey silicon pack but it won’t feed the world like the ones I pack”
Q: it’s not material that has been used in rock
A: but breast feeding and rock..they don’t really mix…
Q: what was different to being on the road
A: it was better..and I realised I missed it..if I’m not doing something I don’t think about it, only when back..
Q: when to get off?
A: you know..when starting to hate audience, hate band, hate yourself
Q: yehh..that would be a clue.

Q: Those foolish people who do think of you as an icon/legend…is the iconic story about you marring Sid Vicious so you would not have to be deported true?
A: John was going to do it…we met in a pub and discussed it but he was like ‘what’…the Sid said he would do it if he got something out of if…well I said 2 quid..and he said OK…I got his birth certificate (he was under-age)..and he stayed in my room the night before so I could keep an eye on him…and he had this girl with him…and I had to ask him to knowck it off…but in the end the registry office was closed due to some weird holoiday and then he could not make it the following day as he had to go to court for putting someones eye out with glass.

Q: Ray Davies? You got to the registry office and it never happened?
A: I guess the registrar thought it was not a good idea…I don’t want to talk about it…I know your thinking about how I was special etc and had all these rockstars..but someone had to fuck me! That’s why I was called box set 😉

Q: another legend..the Joni Mitchell club gig when you strangled…
A: no i didn’t it
A: I would never do it…unless I was really drunk (see this from Carly Simon
A: however when I kicked the windows out of a police car they droped the drunk/disorder… so everyone thought I was sober…but I don’t remember…sorry if I did but I don’t think I tried to stangle Carly Simon

Q: a good you got your first kiss
A: I went to see Jackie wilson with my best friend Gloria Maise(sp?)…me and Gloria were the only 2 white girls…sat right a the front…Jackie was in a real state..lying down on the stage..then someone from his crew came out and picked a girl out..and took her to front and he kissed her…and all the girsls went crazy..and I can still remember this red/white polyester thing i was wearing…and I had a horrible premonition…and then Jackie wilson bought me up on stage and kisses front of the whole audience and it went completely fucking quiet..and I was freaking out..and everyone fucking hated me…(see also here

Q: it is an amazing ride…rock and roll has been pushed to one side now
A: not the centre of the universe anymore
Q: so what do you tell them (young bands)
A: what’s it to me…
Q: but you’re invested in the forum aren’t you?
A: I’m invested in my’s not for me to advise someone..I’d say be yourself
Q: often people are doing a version of something
A: it’s inevitable..there’s a whole library to copy…it was a young mans thing back in the 60s…there had been rockabilly and then rock…there’s been another 35-40 years…there’s always the original voice…in my opinion if I gave you all a guitar and show you louis louis…then half of you would sound better than Eric Clapton in 2 weeks ‘cos he’s too good to play it. even Jeff Beck said how he could not play rhythm guitar all through a song…he could not contain himself..he’s too good…anyone who puts the little 4 piece’s always new to them.

Q: one thing you’ve always been old fashioned about is that you’ve always wanted hits and to be on the radio..
A: I’ve wanted my songs in 20 and 30s..not too much fuss..want people to come up to me and say that last song..should have done better..

Q: I saw you in Atlantic city 2 tours ago..the crowd was a lot of Pretenders fans..then behind them were the people who were staying in the hotel…those people looked befuddled and out of place..and the guys at the front were all jumping up and down..and you asked the guys at the front to sit down as the guys at the back could not see…
A: i was probably been canterkerorus
Q: so you were not being nice to the people at the were been bad to people at the front!

AudienceQ: why taken 6.5 years to come back to Austin?
A: we were hear before?
AudQ: do you get better response here or in Japan
A: better here..
AudQ: I saw the band in japan…I badgered them in osaka 2 years ago
A: we were in osaka..2 years ago? no..we were?
AudQ: what advice in froning all-male bands..I like to you have advice in how to be seen not to be a total bitch?
A: don’t be a total bitch! I know what sounds good…my forte is to be band leader…if I ask people not to do things..I’m totally blagging it..but they know I can find the better performances..

Mar 16

SXSW – Beastie Boys Audience Interview

The final panel of today is an interview with the Beasties boys. Queuing was mandatory, but the attendance appears to be the same as the Bruce Sterling monologue on Tuesday.

Whilst knowing a fair bit of their music, I’ve never been a fan enough to work out who was who…so I took just general notes about the conversation. I found it interesting that they did not really say too much in this interview…they entertained for sure, they made the audience laugh. But as none of these questions were prescreened (live from the audience) they had to skip over things, either because they had no desire to answer or could not for legal/sponsorship reasons. I guess for similar reason, photography by the audience was limited to a little bit at the start and end.

Despite that it was an entertaining hour…here’s some of the notes that I took during the talk. One of the key reasons for the interview was the release of a concert documentary – “Awesome: I Fuckin’ Shot That!” They had given out 50 cameras to fans at a concert and thentook a year to edit all the footage together and release it.

Q: they have released 30 a capella tracks for people to remix; they let 50 fans shoot their do they feel as artists if people take their music. They have broken ground..hopes it will come the norm..will other people do this?
A: it’s a tough make the’s your thing…and people can put their spin on it..but they still need the money!
it’s cool having people doing their thing with your thing.

Q: did you run into obstacles to create the finished product (the movie)
A: sample clearance was a bitch…the DJ was throwing in all kinds of beats when live which were not on the recordings…and they had to figure out what it was..and then get clearance.

Q:After the Anthology…what was the inspriation for Solid Gold Hits…you had already done the Anthology…why do it twice…
A: Can’t give the answer (aside…the label made them do it) but we preferred the Anthology as how it was meant to be put together

Q: are you going to be running another label
A: I hope not…
Q: how was the deal with EMI
A: it was good to work with friends and get stuff they liked out there. But trying to reconcile and have it be a business was not so fun.
Q: any mistakes to learn from?
A: keep it small and keep it simple

Q: so much footage…how long to edit
A: took a year. they screening here only was in stereo..not the full surround sound…so you did not get the full experience

Q: do you have a professional opinion on the sound quality on MP3s
A: we’re not professional…mp3 are useful…sometimes people want good stuff, othertimes no

Q: do they find it difficult to produce from scratch…or easier to sampling
A: smapling is easier to do, but legally a problem
Q: is it still worth it
A: yes, it is how we grew up… like using samples and it makes it all come together. certain grooves and sounds – you can try all day, but samples often have a certain magic.

Q: read in remix that they were using Reason…what are your thoughts about using software instead of instruments/boards etc
A:e ach have their own sound…Reason gives convenience..but all the others have charateristics…
Q: which one is the most inspiring
A: good when on airplane…good for travelling and moving. right thing at right time. now anyone with laptop can do it.

Q: how pleased are you with the result of the movie..would they do something better/different?
A: told people start shooting earlier..give people more tapes and batteries to extend..(the support act were not in it).
expecation that the support was in. it would have been good to give the cameras before the show…

Mar 15


Yesterday, posters appeared around the conference centre announcing that music passes were all fitted with RFID tags. And that you would be scanned going to events..and that the information could be collated and used to send you approprite marketing materials. This was news to me..I could not remember seeing that anywhere in the sign up process. It is all done in the name of protecting you and your experience tp prevent forgery. Mmm…where have I heard that argument before.

Mar 15

Ted Cohen Interview

Deidre and Ted

Originally uploaded by RachelC.

The first session of the day was an interview with Ted Cohen, SVP Digital Dev & Distribution, EMI Music,(pictured here with Deidre at a party the other night). Peter Kafka from Forbes carried out the interview; I’m not sure of his background, but to me he certainly started off his questioning very agressively, seemlingly holding something against the big record companies as repesented by EMI and Ted. There were challenges about declining record sales, increase of single track downloads, old business models, impact in indi lables and working with online models. Throughout, Ted held his ground and ensured he got the mesage across that he thinks things were changing.

Update: Peter has updated me on this:”i covered entertainment and other topics for forbes mag for 8 years; now i edit’s media and tech coverage. if i seemed aggressive it’s just because i knowthat ted is an articulate speaker who can get his point across and wanted to provoke him into doing so; hopefully that worked.” I agree here – he did get his point across well and the questions asked did provoke good responses

Key points I took out of it were:

  • EMI believes it has got better at understanding the users and offering them alternatives. It’s not just the record sale anymore.
  • the digital market allows far more artists shelf space than could happen in meatspace alone.
  • EMi is in a transition – the change to digital cannot happen overnight
  • they may be selling smaller quantities of more artists (like an indi label) but still have more to offer in their expertise and experience in developing the artist. They are getting better at spending moeny inteligently to support this.
  • he thinks the digital music could be improved by intereoperability in itunes. There are better devices than the ipod, it’s just that itunes has 80% of the market.
  • he’s optimistic in hoping that this is the year that subscription takes off, that the systems will work together, that you can have cross platform playlists etc.
  • they are always examining opportunties to increase avaialability for things like podcasts. There are a new set of ground rules and he is keen to ensure there is an appropriate compensation. Good for things like music discovery and new artists.
  • he’s excited about the opportunities with over the air music, mobile development etc

A very switched on guy, working to make the most of the digital space. halfway through he pulled out a bag of gadgets, all new offerings in portable devices that will let you play music and video.

Feb 08

Future of Web Apps – Delicious Things we’ve learnt

I’m sitting here with about 800 other people at the Carson Workshops summit on the Future of Web Apps. This will be a bad attempt to take notes – unedited or spellchcked

Joshua Schachter = things we’ve learnt.

Browsers – browser compatibility issues drives you nuts.
Header issues cause pain.

Scaling: don’t do it! Whatever you predict is not going to be the real problem. Design databases – really understand the ins and outs..set up a monitoring service. Use caching as much as possible – minimise hitting the database.

Abuse: wait to see what breaks before you fix it. Use a proxy – manage the resources. Figure out some kind of throttling Make them easy to get into and out of – more people will use them

Identifiers: don’t expose internal identifier, expecially if sequential or conputatable – people will scrape the database. Lots of hits – have to build in defence mechansims.

Features: what you leave out is as important as waht you leave in. Don;t try and be all things within a app. Try and build features that people use, rather than what they ask for. Understand the why…what’s the real problem.

RSS: put them everywhere they can be – its a default way of getting info. Really need to understand the headers/caches etc to reduce hits to the database. RSS traffic is the largest on delicious

UR:S: make sure they follow the use of the site. They’ll be spread around, make them easily sharable.

Surprises: look for interesting behaviour – users can surprise you, do you amplify, ignore or damp user behaviour

Passion: solve a problem that you really have. Delicious was built to solve the problem of finding things in his link file

Release: get things out there – everyday you don;t have something in the world, yoou’re not picking up users and followers, you;re not picking the users brains. Get it out soon

Attention: give it, populise things. Works out well if population is small and biased in the saem way. Increase the population the bias drifts – and the overlal ‘popular’ is less popular to more people.

Spam: the opposite of attention. Undersntad what you are buildingo reduce attracting the spammers. Reduce the feedback to spammers – keeop them guessing about what is happening.

Tags: useful for recall, OK for discovery, awful at distribution. Not all metadata is tags. Don’t make it difficult. Beware librarians – ‘official’ tags – set heirachies. Impossible in a social network.

Motivation: why should people go there – what does it do for me. Expect the user to be selfish and build it for them. There’s no user 2 if user 1 does not have their needs met. (this has to be key for all technologies – why does it help me). If people are motivated to use it, that woill build evagelism.

Effort: make sure it’s in the right place. Targetthe effort.

Measurement: watch your system carefully. Intuition is guesswork backed by numbers. Look at everything. Measure behaviour rather than claims.

Testing – user testing is ‘pretty important’ make sure what happens with a user is what you expect. Ensure all the eam can watch the testing – get everyone to believe what is being said. Let people ‘play’ don’t set it up too formally.
Language: you have to speak the users languages. Bookmarks – if you used NEtscape or FF. IE it’s favourites. See what your audience use

Registration: don;t make users register before they can see your site. give them as much access as possible to see what the site does. registration is a big barrier..entice first. Show rather than tell.

Design Grammar: work out the best UI – understand how people use sites now and keep something similar. Don;t surprise people and do something diffiernet – understnad what wnet before

Morals – develop a sense of morals. It’s the users data…don’t abuse it. Dat is really purged from system and not kept in a log.

Infection: enable evangelism. Invade every communication stream you can find. Look for viral vectors.

Communities: understand community dynamics – but you can’t necessarily set up to drive a community. The community can be emergent. Many community dynamics suck…

FONT: the IRC channel seemed to be enthalled by the font in this presentation..this feels like a running theme today

Jan 25

Davos Conference Participation

The World Economic Forum starts in Davos today. This year they’ve increased the methods of sharing and participation with sessions available on webcast and also as podcasts for the first time this year. (nice to see the little orange icon.

They also have a blog, which is open to contributions from all:

Every participant of the Annual Meeting – ranging from business leaders to political leaders, heads of NGOs, religious leaders, academics and journalists – will be asked to join the Forum blog.

Supported by Loic (and Six Apart?) I’ll be watching this to see if the group collaboration works. If it does, it’s a good example for company conferences, where the challange would be ‘why’.