AOIR 8 update

AOIR Program coverHere’s another update on AOIR 8, happening Oct 17-20 in Vancouver. The Program (cover featured at right) is complete and off to the printers, room assignments have been made, and things are generally getting all keyed up around here.

There’s quite a range of papers and panels happening – too much to summarize in one post, and certainly too much for one person to attend them all. It’s the same pattern we observe with the VIFF (happening as we speak), which, partly due to my involvement in AOIR (though for myriad reasons), I’m unable to attend this year. If anyone catches anything exceptionally good, toss me the IMDB link and I’ll hunt for it later.

Also – now that the bulk of my work on AOIR is out of the way, I can put a bit of time into organizing the 50 Parties thing. So, here’s another shoutout to ppl who might be interested in pitching in, who missed the call the first time. If yr on Facebook, add this event. And make your promises (and break ’em) on the 50 Parties wiki. I’d like to have people throw pies at each other.

If you’re a local venue that’d like to host 50 Parties, and can hold around 200 or so nerds, then get in touch with me directly (jeanh at clicknoise dot net) to discuss yr terms. We’ve got a DJ or two lined up already, and we’ll have a whole whack of academic and tech people from out of town looking for something fun to do between panels.

Also – if anyone could drop me a hint on a good local source for those fake cream pies that get thrown in politicians’ faces (see the image below for an example of how this works), I’d be appreciative enough to buy you a beer at the event. Cheers!

Chretien gets pie in face

Step One: sidle up at public grip n’ grin

Step Two: remove fake cream pie from pocket

Step Three: briefly show upper surface of pie to target politician

Step Four: mash it in his face

Step Five: run like hell. the security guards will think it’s an act of terrorism.

Beercamp Vancouver

Tonight and tomorrow I’ll be mind-moshing with local geekerati at Barcamp Vancouver. If you’re signed up to be there too, come up and innerdooce yourself (you already know me by sight, or can figure it out via flickr or facebook, can’t you?). I always like to meet readers and fellow bloggers in the flesh. Or so I think.

OK – so maybe there’s only, like, three of you. At any rate, keep in mind for part of the night tonight I’ll be busy behind a camcorder, following Kris Krüg around, turning his seemingly insatiable gaze back on him for a research project I’m working on (for Mobile Muse). But hit me up if you’re around (like I will be) for the free drinks.

RIP Tony Wilson

Tony Wilson is dead. For those who don’t know, Wilson was the notorious owner of the legendary Factory Records and Haçienda Club in Manchester, UK. As dramatized in the 2000s film 24 Hour Party People, Wilson was also responsible for launching the highly influential Joy Division/New Order constellation, as well as lesser (though notable) acts such as The Happy Mondays. A seminal figure in the history of independent music, he and his contributions shall be missed dearly.

self-syndication, the future of music, summer of DRM

OK, that was a good drum break. Back in business. So much to catch up on. Heck, even the Future of Music Coalition is blogging now, which is wonderful news. Stick that in yer link chipper. I’m going to dig into their Policy Day coverage, which I sorely had to miss last week due to my preoccupation with finishing things almost on time. Lots to see there, and given (1) the media panic about camcording and (2) new copyright laws being designed in Canada (both pretty much at the behest of foreign publishing organizations), we’re in for quite a summer of DRM love. Egad, so much to digest. $225 million my ass.

Also – for those of you reading this on “” who are Facebook users, feel free to add request me on there (I’m Jean Hébert, though the acute accent might mess up their search function), as I’m now syndicating this content into my Notes feed. Nothing revolutionary, but I just got around to it. For those of you reading this on Facebook who are familiar with me, but not clicknoise, here you go, I guess.

R.I.P. Jean Baudrillard

Jean Baudrillard has died. For all his warts (e.g., his ideas inspired tons of unwatchable drek such as The Matrix, as well as his light-headed book Passwords, among other disappointing late writings), he was one of the most influential public intellectuals of the 20th Century (right up there with Chomsky, Foucault, Heidegger, Sartre and the bunch). He gave us (or at minimum elaborated on it best) the simulacrum, and along with Debord and others, punk’d up social theory during the golden age of mass media and advertising (which are fading along with him, hopefully…)

Some might say he was anyways always already dead, or never really alive. Baudrillard himself remarked in 2000 that “Well, let’s see, at 70, I would say that I am … transfini” (meaning “beyond the end”) (source). Maybe TV never existed, either?

I had a fun discussion on a conference backchannel last week (over Skype – interestingly, a full two weeks later, that backchannel is still going on…) about how real life doesn’t exist, the real conference doesn’t exist, only the backchannel. Only Skype. Only the Internets. That it seems so perfectly everyday (and not merely everyday to academics) to adopt such positions is a concise testament to the importance of Baudrillard’s legacy for Western thought.

What a guy.

Flesh Mobs

I’ve been fine tuning a report on mobile user experience research I worked on last Fall for Mobile Muse, and so I’ve been trolling around today for any and all articles on flash mobs and other electronically coordinated uses of public space. Most of this material isn’t related at all to the project, but this one about Flesh Mobs in the UK peaked interest on the opposite side of my brain (the Lucio Fulci/pasta horror fan side). I’m glad someone decided to start calling them flesh mobs, which gives them a more purposeful aura (satirical comment on the jejunity of flash mobs?) even though they’ve been called “zombie walks” previously (as in the case of the Vancouver zombie walk a couple of years ago. Also, it’s good to see these people stake a claim to the phrase “flesh mobs” before some porno idiot does. Now that could get tacky.

The Future of Music Bullies, Hard & Soft

Day 2 of the Summit. Something very apropos occurred. A panel about tastemaking made taste. Here’s how: Patti Schmidt opened the panel with a viral youtube vid. The short video takes a satirical look at indie music marketing, centering around a fictional character named Clell Tickle and his bullying approach to promoting bands. In the vid, the bellicose Tickle pushes Tapes & Tapes (one of the buzzier bands at Pop Montréal this weekend) on everyone. He roughs up Pitchfork reviewers, indie label A&R staff, and even audiences (at one point he threatens fans with murdering the weakest member of their family if they don’t buy the band’s latest album). Notably, one of Tickle’s victims calls Tapes & Tapes “derivative of the Pixies”.

Then what happened? Well, what would you expect to happen, with a who’s who in tastemaking on a stage, armed with microphones and oozing indie cultural capital, showing a hilarious vid that stars not only Tapes & Tapes, but Ted Leo and other personae from the indie rock royale set?

At the cocktail party later on, queries about what show to attend that night were for the most part answered with the response, “why, Tapes & Tapes, of course”. Unsurprising. But when asked, “oh so what are they like?”, I was amused to hear the response “oh, they’re kinda like the Pixies”.

I’m pretty impressed if someone organizing the tastemaking panel intended that result. Pure brilliance.