The Null Device
Reporters Sans Frontières has published its 2006 Press Freedom Index, ranking the world's countries in where they stand in press freedom. There's little change at the top (mostly Nordic countries, with the notable absence of Denmark due to the cartoons row; the poll counts incidents of violence, harrassment and intimidation against journalists, not instances of the defense of press freedom, so any boat-rocking will look bad), nor at the bottom, with North Korea still being world champion of repression, and the likes of Iran, Cuba, Burma and Turkmenistan (whose eccentric dictator, ironically, has just opened a book-shaped building dedicated to the media and "free creativity"; perhaps they can put the cells where journalists are tortured inside it?) being not much better.
The United States has fallen nine places, thanks to uses of national-security laws against journalists critical of the "war on terror" (if it's any consolation, this was done in the name of freedom), and the jailing of blogger Josh Wolf, and France's position has also continued to decline. Meanwhile, Australia has dropped a few points (which is attributed to "anti-terrorist laws").
In their latest attempt to buy underground street cred for their Zune music player, Microsoft approached record-store hipster bible Pitchfork to set up a Zune section on their website where hipsters could use the player's proprietary technology to post reviews and content (all under the umbrella of Microsoft's DRM, of course), and hopefully serve as opinion leaders for making the DRM-crippled, ultra-proprietary piece of crapware synonymous with indie cool as much as the spammy wasteland of MySpace has become with cutting-edge unsigned bands. Pitchfork said no.
"Pitchfork's audience looks at that site like it is the Bible," said one high-level music industry executive. "They might not take too kindly to a Microsoft pop-up on the site or a relationship with such a big corporation."
But Schreiber shot down that rationale. "It wasn't anything political, and I don't want to sell Microsoft or the Zune short," Schreiber said. "But the idea just doesn't make a whole lot of sense for us."There is still hope for Microsoft: they have
And a few video fragments from the weekend's Ninetynine gig in Reykjavík:
(They look a lot less blurry in real life. Or, indeed, in the video before it went through the YouTube process.)
Anyway, they're playing Spain this week, and in London on the 31st. More details on their web site.