When a boy fell in love with music…

If someone were to ask me to pick my musical icon, I would proudly answer Michael Jackson.  When I was a boy I grew up listening to classic rock and country tunes in the backseat of my parents car.  At that time, this was the only music I knew.  I’ll never forget the first time I saw a Michael Jackson video on MTV.  It was his Bad video and it seemed so out of this world, so larger than life.  From that moment on I was hooked!  It was so different from everything else that I had heard up until that point.  My mother told me that this was pop music.  I asked her what exactly pop music meant, she told me, “Well, it’s popular!” I had no idea what she meant, but I thought I had found the holy grail of music.  He was my first true source of musical inspiration.

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The obsession only grew!  The first album I got was a hand-me-down of Thriller from my uncle.  PYT, Beat It, and The Girl Is Mine were my favorites, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t play that album forwards and backwards, over and over again.  The next album I got was Dangerous for my eighth Birthday.  To this day it is still my personal favorite Michael Jackson album.  It was like magic, something I just couldn’t get enough of.  I would dance (when no one was watching) to the whole album in my room.  The album was stuck on repeat for well over a year.  During this time I also stalked MTV for any and all MJ videos.  I think Michael defined the medium.  He gave each single life with a clever, generally over-the-top music video.  Those videos showcased Michael’s creativity, story telling and perfectionism.

For most, the bottom fell out soon after.  I was around nine years old when the allegations of child abuse came out.  I refused to believe any of it and stood by my hero!  It wasn’t easy, a lot of other people thought I was weird.  I guess what pulled me through was his music.  Personally I never believed Michael was ever sexually motivated.  What I saw was a person who had a strong passion for music and big heart.  A person who could be easily misunderstood.

I continued to collect Michael Jackson albums and singles.  History came out in 1995, his first release post allegations.  That album showed a different Michael.  It wasn’t a bad thing, but it was clear that something changed.  I guess the best way I can put it is anger.  I never saw that side to him before, but he expressed his anger clearly through that album.  The first single was Scream, it was supported with a multi-million dollar video and ad campaign.  At the time, it was a record-breaking budget for a video.  Scream went to number one on the Billboard top 100.  I was happy that even with all the allegations, he could still reach the top (at least then I knew I wasn’t the only one listening to him).  History produced a few more singles, but it was never quite the same.

Another long break before we got his next album in 2001, Invincible.  Another album filled with mix emotions.  Although the album made it to number one, none of the singles had the same sort of impact as once before.  The album did much better internationally.  Perhaps something that pulled away attention from the album were further accusations of child abuse.  This time Michael didn’t settle.  In 2004 Michael went to court, fought back and, in one of the most conservative districts in California, Michael was unanimously declared innocent on all accounts.  I was so happy for him!  At times I wish this is what he would have done back in 1992 instead of settling out of court.  After this I truly hoped for a refocus on music.  Sadly that never came to be.

After years of rumors regarding his financial stability and parenting skills, fans finally got some music related news in 2008.  Michael was going to put on a final tour called This is It.  I was incredibly disappointed that the shows were only taking place in London, but there were strong hints that he would bring the show to North America if it were a success.  I remember reading sites online and looking for YouTube videos of concert rehearsals.  The show was an instant sell out!  Fast forward to June 25, 2009, I’ll never forget that day.  I was working at an at&t kiosk in the Mall of America when someone came up and stated quite simply, “Did you hear?  Michael Jackson has been rushed to the hospital! They think he’s dead!”  I couldn’t believe it, my heart sank.  It was so unreal.  I remember driving home that night and I swear, each and every radio station seemed to be paying homage.

Sometimes you don’t know what you have until it’s gone.  That was certainly the case in regards to Michael.  The whole industry felt a sense of loss, a gaping hole that will never be filled.  I’m disappointed that I never got to see him live.  I also find it sad how 2001’s Invincible would be the last album that he would see completed.  Such a loss!  Looking back, its easy for me to say that he had a huge impact on me not only musically, but also in my character.  Michael was a fantastic role model for me and I only wish I got the chance to share that with him.  To let him know that at least I didn’t care about the rumors and gossip, I cared about the character and talent.  He made me fall in love with dance music, a passion that lives deep in me to this very day.  Many of today’s musicians label him as their inspiration, much like myself.  I only hope that I can do something in my lifetime that can give back to his legacy!

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Sharing and Collaboration in the Digital Age

Blog Assignment: Transformed Media Landscape – How is media transforming?  We’ve had a number of conversations about the new collaborative nature of media, specifically about Clay Shirky talks on this idea as it relates to the notion of ‘cognitive surplus’.  After viewing both of the required videos for this unit,  pick one or two points from his presentations and write a blog on how you see yourself or society applying a more collaborative approach to media.

I hate to break it to the world, but I think we have run out of ideas.  Hold on, it’s not as bad as it sounds.  Think about it, we’re well over fifty years into this modern, mass consumption culture.  I mean, how could this not happen?  Now, let’s get past all that.  Because once we do that we can then begin to learn from our past.  What worked?  What didn’t?  What Inspired?  What mistakes should we want avoid?  How would we do it differently if given the chance?

I think the future of media is collaboration.  Today its more about using one source of media to inspire something else.  Don’t know what I am talking about? Watch an episode of Family Guy. The show is primarily made up of references to the past, while it’s also uniquely its own creation.  Because I think, to be successful, this has to be something more than just simply making what’s old, new again.

I’m an avid EDM (Electronic Dance Music) fan and it’s in our culture to share a creation and have others remix it into something new and uniquely their own.  It’s actually why I fell in love with the genre.  I love how a big room anthem could be remixed into a lounge-y poolside song for the summer, or a tribal anthem for a pride event, or a tricked out dub step banger.  Great things can be gained from collaboration, while the memorable moments of the past should  be allowed to be future sources of inspiration.

CwF + RtB

Blog Assignment: Rise of the Mass – Read the forum post by Trent Reznor on the changing music industry as well as the article about making it as a New Artist. Write a blog on the article incorporating ideas presented in class: i.e. the transformed media landscape, methods of communication throughout history, etc.

Do you agree or disagree with Trent? Why? Why not?

I ran across this other blog that perfectly captures Trent Reznor’s whole CwF + RtB philosophy. I couldn’t agree more! The future isn’t about fighting your fans. The fight everyone should be focused on is our modern day short attention spans due to over saturation. The successes know how to become a brand, and that doesn’t mean selling out. A good brand should define exactly who you are!  It’s important to take control of your message; what your about, how you want to come across, and what you’re looking to accomplish, etc.  But remember, it’s not only getting people interested, its even more important (and difficult) keeping them interested!

If you have 15 mintues watch this presentation by Michael Masnick at this years MIDEM09.  This is a perfect example of how a brands (NIN) can connect with their market by developing channels that are relevant and engaging.  If only more companies took the time to truly understand their customer on this level.

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Jaron Lanier

Blog Assignment: Read material regarding Web 2.0. Read selections from You Are Not A Gadget available in the library or find information about Jaron Lanier online blog about what you read. Rather than writing a school report, simply strive to find an interesting part of the article and comment on it.

You Are Not a Gadget (2010) In his book You Are Not a Gadget (2010), Lanier criticizes the hive mind of Web 2.0 (wisdom of the crowd) and describes the open source and open content expropriation of intellectual production as a form of “Digital Maoism”.[14] Lanier argues that Web 2.0 developments have retarded progress and innovation and glorified the collective at the expense of the individual. He criticizes Wikipedia and Linux as examples of this problem; Wikipedia for its “mob rule” by anonymous editors, the weakness of its non-scientific content, and its bullying of experts. Lanier also argues that there are limitations to certain aspects of the open source and content movement in that they lack the ability to create anything truly new and innovative. For example, Lanier makes the observation that the open source movement didn’t create the iPhone, but it did create Android. In another example, Lanier claims that Web 2.0 makes search engines lazy, destroys the potential of innovative websites like Thinkquest, and hampers the communication of ideas like mathematics to a wider audience. Lanier further argues that the open source approach has destroyed opportunities for the middle class to finance content creation, and results in the concentration of wealth in a few individuals—”the lords of the clouds”—people who, more by virtue of luck rather than true innovation, manage to insert themselves as content concentrators at strategic times and locations in the cloud.

What a crock of BS!  I’m sorry but I just don’t agree.  Generally, as things improve, they tend to become less complicated and more simple.  In my opinion, this is not a bad thing.  Because technology is becoming simpler to use, it also becomes much accessible.  Now Grandma, who previous vowed to never touch a computer, has no issue using her smartphone.  The smartphone doesn’t intimidate her, allowing her to get past her fears and, in the end, find ways to better her connection to others.

One is still able to get as nerdy as they like, with they’re operating system of choice.  But don’t chastise technology (and its future as a whole) simply because you think it should stay alienated for the true nerds out there.

RIP Aaron

Aaron Swartz

The internet lost one of it’s poster boys over the weekend.  Aaron Swartz, a 26-year-old computer programmer and Internet activist, committed suicide by hanging himself last Friday (Jan 11th, 2013).  Aaron was a large advocate of preserving internet freedom of speech laws and fought hard against any attacks on such freedoms.  Ironically Aaron was suffering from depression which, in some part, was due to his abuse of internet privacy abuse.  Swartz was accused of breaking into MIT’s computer system in order to access
academic articles and make them available for free on the Internet.

I find it ironic that Aaron, often considered the poster boy for personal internet freedoms, ended up demonstrating exactly how the internet is being abused.   His own actions almost nullify his previous messages and ends up serving only to justify why certain forces are working so hard to control how and what we can do online.  It’s hard to imagine that the consequences for his actions, a 35-year prison sentence on federal data theft charges for illegally downloading articles from the subscription, didn’t play a role in his personal battle with depression.

Read more: http://business.time.com/2013/01/14/mit-orders-review-of-aaron-swartz-suicide-as-soul-searching-begins/#ixzz2Hy1DmpDj