thing 16: wikis

One thing I have learned from participating in several wiki projects — from Wikipedia to my libraries’ FAQ/Policies wikis — is that it takes a lot of work to populate and maintain a useful wiki. One of my favorite uses of a wiki is Whole Wheat Radio (which seems to have disappeared recently).

The streaming radio station out of Talkeenta, Alaska, switched over to using a wiki to maintain information about the artists played and available albums/tracks. Users could contribute as much information as they wanted to. For a while, I was addicted to adding content to it. Part of why I haven’t listened much in the past few months is because I would easily spend an hour or two adding data to the site every time I turned on the stream.

If the site ever comes back, I recommend you check it out. Aside from the wiki aspect, anyone can play DJ and pick the songs they want to have broadcast. Pretty cool!

side note: It appears that the music, at least, is still streaming.

consuming music

I need to let myself really listen to the music I consume, rather than (to further the metaphor) mindlessly move my hand from bowl to mouth.

Last night, I went to see Missy Higgins at the Birchmere in Alexandria, VA. It’s probably the smallest venue she’ll be playing at in this area, given the sold out show and the number of folks trying to get tickets that day. We ended up with seats that had a good view of the whole stage. It was a blast!

About a month ago, I had given my friend, Holly, a copy of both The Sound of White and On a Clear Night, which apparently have not left her CD player since. For Holly, it was a strange experience to be at a concert for a (relatively) unknown artist and know every single song. For me, it was a wake-up call that I have been consuming too much music and not spending enough time on any one album to get to know it as well as I used to.

Even though I’ve been a fan of Higgins for about two years, I knew maybe a third to a half of the songs she played — the rest were vaguely familiar, but not old friends like they should have been by now. What kind of a fan am I? One with too much music and not enough time to listen to it all. A blessing, but also a curse.

When I was younger, I would listen to a single album on cassette tape for hours and hours. The best piece of electronic equipment in our house (in my opinion) was the stereo that had the cassette player that could reverse directions to play the other side without having to flip the cassette around. Now that I can afford to buy or cheaply trade for new music, my focus has shifted from completely absorbing an album because I wasn’t likely to get another for at least six months to amassing as many new albums as I can as quickly as I can.

I need to slow down. I need to let myself really listen to the music I consume, rather than (to further the metaphor) mindlessly move my hand from bowl to mouth. Pay attention to the lyrics, to the layers of sound, to the complexities of the composition. One brief run through the tracks while I am doing something else isn’t going to cut it.

karaoke regulars

Lately I’ve been going to karaoke periodically at the Downtown Capital Ale House. The bar isn’t very smokey, and they have an excellent selection of beers. Aside from the amenities, the karaoke generally features people who can really sing and/or people who are great entertainers, regardless of their musical ability. One of the good singers and entertainers is Pete, who usually follows up an operatic piece with this:

Sorry it’s so short — I just got a new camera and didn’t have anything more than the tiny 32MH MMC for storage. It has since been replaced by a 4GB SDHC and I promise to get a full recording next time.

thinking like a user, not a librarian

I should have know that this would be the slippery slope that lead to… a wishlist.

I did something today that was revolutionary. Well, for me, anyway. I tagged an album on RateYourMusic that I do not own, nor have I ever owned. I tagged an album for my wishlist.

I have been treating RateYourMusic as a LibraryThing for music, which it pretty much is, without all the flair and design and integration that LT currently provides. My personal rule (a.k.a. thinking like a librarian) was that I would “catalog” what I owned, not what I wanted or had previously owned. That’s how I roll over at LT, and for my book collection, it makes a lot of sense.

My music collection, however, is much more fluid. I’m less likely to hang on to a CD once I’ve grown tired of it, so I regularly trade out “old” albums for “new” ones. A while back I started tagging albums as “used to own” rather than completely de-accessioning them. Because I’m regularly acquiring new music, I need to know what I’ve already evaluated and passed on, and this is one way to do that.

I should have know that this would be the slippery slope that lead to… a wishlist. Sure, I have wishlists all over the place, from Amazon to the various swap sites I participate in. However, RateYourMusic is supposed to be a catalog, right? And a library catalog doesn’t have wishlist items, right? (Well, unless you count those books that never show up from the publisher/jobber/vendor.)

This is the point at which I stopped thinking like a librarian and started thinking like a user. Having a wishlist mixed in with my have and use-to-have lists means it’s all in one, indexed collection. It feels freeing to let go of the “rules” that keep me from using all of the tools available to me!

hangin by a string

Earlier this week, I saw that my friends Kiya & Miriam had a gig up in Germantown, Maryland, last night. I noted that they didn’t have anything else booked on the day before or after, so I emailed them to see if they would have time to stop and visit, since their route would take them by Richmond. I didn’t hear back for sure until Saturday morning, and that was just an email telling me to call later.

I called when I was on my way to a Sacred Harp singing. I’d spent the morning writing, and I’d planned to do some much needed house-cleaning after the singing. However, those plans were scrapped in a few short minutes.

Turns out, they were only about a half an hour away from Richmond, and there was room in the car for me, so did I want to go with them? Heck, yeah!

I quickly dashed home and attempted to do some guest preparations. They arrived shortly thereafter, and off we went.

The show was faboo, despite Kiya having just gotten over being sick and Miriam coming down with what she had. I took some photos, but most of them didn’t turn out too well due to the dim lighting in the venue. I also thought to use my camera to capture some audio/video. Here’s most of the encore, “Hangin by a String”:

Learning 2008: Copywrong – Web 2.0 and Collaborative Multimedia Resources

Presenters: Paul Porterfield, Allison Czapracki, & Linda Fairtile

Fair use is not a right, it is a legal defense. That is something to keep in mind when using copyrighted materials in the classroom. Make sure you understand the circumstances and restrictions that allow for fair use before you do anything with copyrighted material.

PD Info is a website that provides information about music that is in the public domain, but they note that while some printed music is in the public domain, there is virtually no recorded music that is not covered by copyright. (Creative Commons licensed music is still covered by copyright, but the owner has assigned certain aspects of those rights to others.)

The UR Music Library maintains a server that provides streaming audio of recordings for educational use for specific courses. There are also resources such as Alexander Street Press’ American Song collection that provides streaming audio, as well as additional information about the recordings.

Public domain resources can be found all over the web. LibriVox is a site that provides free audio recordings of public domain works. Project Gutenberg provides ebook versions of public domain works.

Creative Commons is a way to allow others to use your work in whatever way you allow. This is a great tool for collaboration and new creations derived from old, just like the old days before copyright. Students need to know that they can use many CC licensed works in their assignments and presentations, and as long as they follow the license terms, they don’t need to worry about whether or not it falls under fair use. Allison has several sources for locating CC licensed or copyright-free media.

and am I born to die?*

My father recently attended the 2008 Ohio State Sacred Harp Convention. Over the past nine years or so, he’s become one of the shape note (Sacred Harp in particular) fanatics who will travel all over the region to attend big singings. He loves it, but I find those types of singings to be terrifying.

When I began to sing shape note music, it was with a small Sacred Harp group in Lexington (Kentucky) that met monthly. They were very casual and spent time learning the songs. Eventually, I ended up signing with an even more casual group that met weekly. It was fun and I became a better singer because of it.

At some point, I attended the statewide singing in Kentucky, and it was such an overwhelming and frustrating experience that I never wanted to go back to anything like that again. They sang songs I didn’t know too fast for me to even think of learning them. What kind of fun is that except for the handful of speed demons who may have known the tunes? What kind of community does that build? What kind of worship experience?

The thing is, the Sacred Harp is named thusly because all of the words are based in Biblical scripture. Shape note singing is fun, but it’s also kind of like being at church, and for a long time, it was the only place where I felt safe enough to be in the mental state of worship. No matter who you were or where you came from, if you wanted to sing with us, you could sing with us, judgment-free.

Maybe my father can experience that at the big singings because he is a shape note fanatic. He has audio files and CDs of recordings of songs, and listens to them to help learn them. He also practices at home, reading from the songbook and beating out the measures until he knows the tunes well enough to lead them.

I could do that, but frankly, I’d rather have that worshipful, musical experience with others than practicing alone. If that means I don’t do it very often, and on my own terms, then I guess that’s what I’ll have to do.

* This is the first line of Idumea, my father’s favorite tune.

turnaround

Kiya & Kopana rockin’ out in the late 80s.

For some reason, I found myself surfing teh interwebs once again in search of a copy of Stealin Horses’ “Turnaround” video. If I recall correctly, that was the only video they made for Arista before the label stupidly dropped them after trying to market the rock band as country. I was surprised to discover several websites with streaming video of it! So, check out my friend Kiya in all her 20-something serious rockstar glory, and mind the shoulder pads:

Turnaround – Stealin Horses

bum rush the charts

Bum Rush the Charts — stick it to the RIAA!

I just heard about a really cool project to get the attention of the RIAA. There’s a group of folks who have organized an unusual protest called Bum Rush the Charts that is scheduled for tomorrow. Basically, they want everyone to purchase a single song on iTunes and get it bumped up to the top of the daily charts.

The song is by a band called Black Lab who have been dropped by two RIAA labels and are still struggling to gain access to their recorded catalog of music, which is not an uncommon problem for bands/artists in their situation. I have no idea what the band sounds like, but for $1.07 ($0.99 + WA tax), I’m willing to join the cause. Luckily, the date of the event is tomorrow, so I heard about it just in time.

Also, if you buy the song via the link through the project, they will donate half of the commission to college scholarships.