31 January 2004

So, in the past week or two, I’ve seen Lost in Translation, the first episode of series 3 of Six Feet Under, and just tonight, Big Fish. I have left all three with the same lingering thought;

I really want to write.

I mean, I write on the small scale; the odd short story, the odd article, gibberish on here. But I’m sure that somewhere in me is a big story waiting to be told. I’ve got one, nearly; it’s been refining itself over a very long time and suddenly, a week or two ago, my brain took a most brilliant shortcut and the real workings of a plot emerged. I might start writing it quite soon – it’s that exciting. It just needs a little more research… as I always seem to say. Soon, though, I swear I’m going to get on with it. I’m running out of time to tell these stories with every day that passes.


31 January 2004

Things to scare the children with #94: the fine young lads from Arab Strap at Loch Leven, in kilts.

On the move again

31 January 2004

And so it’s back off to London for yet more interning. This time, I’m working in new media type stuff – online production and marketing. Quite looking forward to it, I guess. One useful thing I found for my time in the city – Chris Heathcote’s London Art Aggregator, perfect for discovering what’s open after work or at the weekends with which to while away my time.

So I’m mobile, again. More jobs to apply for at the same time; maybe I’ll end up staying. We’ll see…


29 January 2004

Orkut. It’s one of those trendy things that is like Friendster. I got an invite onto it today, which, given it’s invite-only, I wasn’t going to turn down.

So I spent about twenty minutes this afternoon filling out my information, typing in my favourite books and films just like I did for Friendster when it hit me:

Why the hell was I doing this?

I don’t know, to help someone out with their product. Anyhow, A more solid trial of Orkut has led me to the following conclusion: it’s terrible, and I have no idea what it’s for. Let’s outline those problems in full.

  • It’s lilac. It’s ugly, essentially. It’s also lazily designed – the type for my name on my profile is horrid, the caps look wrong, and I barely noticed those tabs top right of the profile. Not many points for design.
  • The UI is really odd. OK, so say I have Tom‘s list of friends up to see if I know anyone in there, and I see someone I’m interested in. I click on them to see their profile. Do I see their profile? No! I see their list of friends. More faces. The more you click, the more faces. You actually have to click “profile” in the left submenu once you’ve found someone this way. This is fundamentally crap. I want to go from friend-lists to buddies, not from one friendlist to another.
  • Communities: I don’t get them. I’ve been on yahoogroups, mailing lists, all these things. Communities are much like the messageboards for a school on FriendsReunited. Except I don’t get them, here. On Friendster, if I clicked on one of my interests, I could see other people with that interest, too. I’ve done that on Orkut already, except I can also have a badge and belong to a community of people who like, say, web design, as well as being interested in it. What the hell? What’s the point? So I can have a little messageboard? Now I’m throwing too many things into one basket; surely dedicated messageboards would be better, or even a Yahoogroup? Follow the example of iLife: lots of little things that work together. As it is, most communities are overlapping with interests, underdeveloped and scattershot; on a single persons profile, I can see nine of however many of their friends, nine of however many communities, plus all their standard info. It’s worse than watching Sky News; it’s information overload gone mad.
  • I don’t like the terminology. I hated the terminology of Friendster. I hate this more; not only do I have to call everyone a Friend, but then I can rank them, or be a Fan. You can’t be negative about people, you can just be more positive. So: I like x, but I like y more. Or: I know x, but I am good mates with y. But this is silly, because it ranks people according to number of vague acquaintances, as if it were some competition; not according to number of strong friendships. Too many terms; I don’t want to rate my friends like they’re eBay sellers. In fact, a lot of Orkut reminds me of eBay. But friends are not like knicknacks I want to flog.
  • What’s it for? I have no idea. I quite like the selectable privcay (who can see what info); I quite like the job-related stuff. But it’s too many things all at once. If I want to find out about a person, I don’t care about their education. If I want to hire someone, I don’t care how tall they are. In fact, I don’t care about most things on the site. I don’t make friends this way, I just find out more about people, but a lot of the time it’s too much information. And it just makes me scream. All these people are on it, all in this big circular chains of A-list tech and web people and bloggers and writers and stuff, and it’s just so boring and when I’ve clicekd on all those faces and found out not much other than how tall Matt Haughey is or what food someone likes, I just want to scream. I’m told these things are important, but I honestly cannot see the point.

And that’s it, really. It’s not only a bad piece of software, it’s pointless. Not only does it use irritating terminology and make most fuss of the weakest connections, it’s also overburdened with features, and yet it still hasn’t told me why I should use it. There’s no killer feature (bar the lilac). I have the people I know in my email book, in iChat. I have their friends linked off their websites, or a google away. Or, you know, I could ask them for an introduction by email, or something. I don’t need so much information in the network.

I’m just confused, I guess, being a lowly writery-person with an interest in tech, rather than the other way around; I don’t know what I’m meant to do with this software, other than scream and swear at it as it does stupid illogical things and is generally useless. What I do know about social software, though, is that Warren Ellis is right here. Software can make us more social, but it can’t make us better at it. Finding out about degrees of seperation is interesting and surprising. Making a Community for people who like drinking tea and setting it to a lilac background is, frankly, bollocks.

Snowy View

29 January 2004

So, it snowed. Snowed pretty much everywhere, in fact, in varying quantities. This morning was crisp and clear, and I’ve always liked the view from my window (or rather, the study window), so: two raw, taken-right-now photos, to show the world (or whoever reads this site, delete as applicable) what it looks like.


29 January 2004

HTTPanties. Words fail me.

A Good Weekend

27 January 2004

So that was a pleasasnt weekend, in which I went to my first gig for about, well, nearly a year and a half. (The last, incidentally, was DJ Shadow at the Birmingham Academy, and he rocked bells).

This one was Arab Strap. The Strap were the first band I failed to see; they were playing the now defunct Attic in Cheltenham, I was about 15 or 16 and nuts about them following the release of the single Here We Go. I wasn’t sure if I’d get in. I never bought a ticket. Now I’m 21, I finally got around to seeing them, and they were great. I won’t say much more, because I’m writing up a review for a friend’s zine, but I might get around to posting that later. Anyhow: have a blurry mopho:

Aidan at the mic, Malcolm playing guitar; rest of band offset. This is during Packs of Three.

I also made a bonus discovery that led to my first expedition to a nightclub for god knows how long; it too was awesome. Following an NME tour gig, The Rapture and Franz Ferdinand were meant to be playing DJ sets at Sub Club. Franz Ferdinand seemed happy to mainly let the Rapture boys work the decks; they were quite busy with a bottle of Jameson’s. And so we were treated to house, electro-dance, Michael Jackson instrumentals, and rock; shifting from a remix of Sister Saviour into Louie Louie and then Smells Like Teen Spirit gives a rough idea of the fun involved. It devolved into a karaoke session for Luke, and when they played Nirvana again but at about twice the (already rather painful) volume, we headed home. Still, awesome fun at a great venue. Have a picture of two of the guys I can’t quite name:

And there was the usual good food and chat and filmgoing (OK, Paycheck wasn’t that good) and it was a great time.

And then I got home, and found out I didn’t get the job.

Booming again

22 January 2004

Well, blow me, if Boom Selection isn’t back with avengeance. I swear, the last site was completely pillaged by me in a quest for decent, non-clashy bootlegs in order to play at college bops. Did anyone appreciate them? No, but damnit I did. There’s some seriously wonderful cuts going around at the moment; favourite include Sexual High (Sexual Healing vs High and Dry, perfect in an indescribable way); Mark Ronson’s Ooo-wee against Kylie’s Slow (surprisingly good); and the classic “Kill Yourself”, pitting Loose Yourself against Hotei Tomoyasu’s Battle Without Honour or Humanity. You know, from Kill Bill. It’s mighty.

What is it about bootlegs that gets me going? Don’t know; it’s partly the attitude; yeah, it’s a remix, but it’s also this entirely punk collision of tune and acapella, and yet there’s still a great deal of skill to the art, simply because getting stuff that’s in tune throughout, not just briefly, is the trick. And then you kick yourself, for never realising that x goes with y so well.

It’s a musical joke; it takes the disposability of pop and squares it, throwing original tunes and lyrics out of the window in order to make something new. And yet, every now and then, that something new is something special.

Christ, I’m turning into a Q writer or something. Dreadful. Anyhow: the booms are back. Go download. Go support. And if you’re in Manchester, go to the damn club night.


19 January 2004

Sometimes, the world is just too beautiful.


17 January 2004

The artwork of Matthew Borrett; inverted cityscapes, hollowed out of paper. Beautiful, mesmeric.