The Null Device
Rock musician questioned for possible terrorist involvement after texting a Clash lyric to the wrong person. Mike Devine, from the Clash cover band London Calling, intended to send lyrics from Tommy Gun to the singer, though sent them to a wrong number, and someone uninitiated with the punk rock band's canon found on their phone a message reading "How about this for Tommy Gun? OK - so let's agree about the price and make it one jet airliner for 10 prisoners.", became alarmed and called the police.
Meanwhile, Stereolab have been dumped by the Warner Music Group, who release their records outside of Britain (where their own indie label, Duophonic, do so). The Warner imprint the groop were signed to, Elektra, has been abolished, and nearly half of all Warner artists are expected to be axed. Those staying on, meanwhile, will have to do with smaller budgets, in what could be new boss Edgar Bronfman Jr.'s initiative to turn Warner into a back-catalogue holding company.
I have it on good authority that Belle & Sebastian are coming to Australia, playing on 24 July at the Palais. I wonder who the supports will be; the obvious choice would be Architecture In Helsinki, though Tugboat were angling for this when it last came up. The Tranquilizers could also work. And I'll nominate Talkshow Boy as an outsider candidate.
Another use of technology to make democracy more of a reality (as opposed to just voting for who'll take orders from the people that matter for the next 3 to 4 years): TheyWorkForYou.com, from the team that created FaxYourMP.com, takes the text of Hansard, the transcript of debates in Britain's House of Commons, and converts it into a threaded, linkable discussion form, not unlike, say, LiveJournal or something. Not only that, but it keeps tabs on MPs, including biographies, lists of their interests (shares, board memberships and such, as well as details of overseas trips and gifts received), how often they speak, performance in replying to faxes, and how often they rebel against their own party line. Here's Tony Blair, for example, and the ultra-groovy member for West Bromwich East.
This sort of system promises to reinvigorate democracy and hold politicians to be more accountable to their constituents. (Do you know what your MP has been doing?) I hope that the TheyWorkForYou team plan on releasing the code, because this sort of thing should be exported to other parliamentary democracies. I'd like to see one in Canberra, keeping tabs on Federal Parliament, for one, and ones for state Parliaments; not to mention US Congress, the EU Parliament, and so on. (via bOING bOING)
Not all that long after voting to adopt software patents, the EU are moving to legally require currency detection code in all image-processing software. This looks likely to either (a) be utterly ineffective, or (b) be mostly ineffective whilst effectively outlawing open-source graphics software. The precedent it sets is not a good one either; how long until paracopyright enforcement is mandated to be built into anything processing audio or video data, or indeed any copyrightable data?
Meanwhile, British Telecom have taken steps to block access to child pornography websites. A laudable sentiment, though one worries that the site-by-site censorship infrastructure required to implement this could easily be extended to blocking other things (overseas news sites publishing things violating the Official Secrets Act, for example, or MP3 download sites that piss off the local recording industry). One brave step towards the Singaporisation of the internet.
Meanwhile, the RIAA's latest campaign to defend the foundations of capitalism from the enemy within will involve putting fingerprint readers into music players to ensure that nobody who didn't pay for music gets to listen to it. Welcome to the Digital Millennium; make sure you've paid your way.