The Null Device
Found object of the day: I had reason to be in the Ivanhoe Coles supermarket today, and found in one of the aisles a 3-videotape "value pack", consisting of the following titles:
- Clinton Under Oath - The President's Testimony
- Girl Power - The Unauthorised Biography of the Spice Girls
- Navy Seals - The Real Story
Wonder what the target market could possibly be.
(And in case you're wondering: no, I didn't buy it.)
This poll should be interesting to watch; for one, it'll be interesting to see whether the Nu Marxists are as predominant amongst No Logo-reading types as they are in the Australian S11/M1 movement, and whether anarchism is more popular than their lack of organised structure would lead you to believe. Also tellingly, "libertarian" is not an option (perhaps it's a subcategory of "conservative", or perhaps those gun-toting Ayn Rand freaks are seen as diametrically opposed to everything No Logo advocates).
I picked up the new Depeche Mode album, Exciter, a few days ago. It's pretty good; all in all, more inspired than Ultra. It's produced by Mark Bell, the Warp artist who also produced Björk's material, and this is evident in the trademark skittering glitch beats on some of the tracks, merging with the usual synths, guitars and some lush orchestration. There's perhaps a slight Radiohead influence in places (or perhaps that's just the zeitgeist), as well as touches of some fellow Mute artists (Barry Adamson and Goldfrapp come to mind in places). As most albums, it has its stronger and weaker points (some of the songwriting has that antidepressant-tinged blandness that crept into DM lyrics in the 90s), though the overall quality is pretty good. It makes good background music, with echoes of the doomed romanticism that characterised DM's best albums (i.e., Some Great Reward through to Violator).
The big guns of the Recording Racket are bringing out MusicNet and Duet, two "Napster-killer" services, to turn the kiddies onto a legal, legit way of downloading their favourite buzzy warbles, in a "secure" format that the recording companies can keep under tight control. The thing is, not only do the tracks need special software to play (you'll need to fire up your Windows PC every time you want to listen to the latest Bizkit Park opus), but they also expire after 30 days, meaning that you have to download (and pay for) them all over again if you still want to listen to them. Ah yes, I can see how that will prove a big hit.
What would the Star Wars universe be like if it was designed by leading industrial designers?
Bad vibes/paranoia/rant: I've been reading K. W. Jeter's Noir recently. It's engrossing; sort of like early William Gibson meets Neal Stephenson, only much darker and more nihilistic. It's quite a good read, though by no means a comfortable one, as the corporate-ruled, monetised dystopia of the book is a little too close to the world we are moving towards, as wealth and power are increasingly concentrated with every multinational corporate merger, bought legislators sign away chunks of sovereignty to multinational treaties, aided by the fact that most people care more about the latest reality TV show than the more boring things happening around them. (Also, the rationales for making copyright violation a capital crime, presented in the book, are a small leap from the arguments of Microsoft and the RIAA. As for reanimating condemned convicts into eternally-suffering trophies: if George W. Bush's America had the technology, how else would they use it?) Sometimes it seems as if the age of liberal democracy (as flawed as it was) is slowly but inexorably coming to an end, to be replaced by a new global feudalism. And while a lot of the technology in the book may be far-fetched, the trends behind it are a bit too ominously familiar.