The Week Link
MetaFilter Posts

Destroying and Recreating

[Supplement to The Week Link, 14.02.01]

As for it being a 'stunt'—what the...? This guy is destroying everything he owns, highly personal items included. He can't get those back; this isn't some 'gimmick' that will be forgotten the day after. He will come out the other side profoundly changed, like anyone who has lost everything they own through fire or some other disaster—and the fact that he has chosen this fate makes those changes even more affecting.

Yes, he has made this a public act rather than a private one, because that's his job. He's an artist. Art is his life; his life is now art. And artists need an audience.

You are now part of that audience. He has made you all think about things you had not thought about the same way before. That makes him a good artist in my book.

Seems like everyone here goes on about memes and tries to create them by posting links to MeFi, yet when someone comes up with an awesome meme half of us sniff about it being 'a crock', 'empty-headed', 'a stunt', and 'stupid'.

[and later...]

A meme isn't an instruction. A meme is an idea. Just because you personally don't want to carry it out doesn't make it less effective or infectious.

Karl Marx was a great meme factory too, and most of us know something of his ideas, but does that make us all communists?

There are plenty of ideas that get held up as ideals, as talking points, as examples of what not to do or think—they don't all have to be put into practice wholesale.

A weak meme is one that nobody talks about. We're talking about this, and so are others (a lot, judging by the volume of posts). Therefore it's hardly a 'weak meme'.

As for the question of how profoundly he'll be changed: fair point, but I thought there were hints in the story that he's almost as confused as everybody else by what he's doing, and that he's being 'carried away' with the idea. I suspect that when the dust settles, he will feel profoundly different. Even if it's a feeling of 'Oh my God, why did I do that?' ;)

A Rationale for this Weblog

[Supplement to The Week Link, 14.02.01]

Dan Hartung's comments about 'reconceiving' raise some interesting questions about form and function. With my previous log I found myself straying further and further into journal territory, which came to a head in its last incarnation where I had a big travel photo changing every 2 weeks at the top of the page. Looking at that every day was encouraging me to look inwards, rather than outwards, and while that was okay for a while, I felt I'd taken it about as far as I could without seeming wayyyyy too self-obsessed. It all seemed such a long way from my proud feeling only one short year ago that 'hey, other people were using their personal sites as journal sites, but mine was different...'

But I still liked the idea of weblogs—that constantly changing space that can be about anything—and didn't want to abandon that. The trouble was, the Zannah filter-log model of posting a link and a one-sentence comment every twenty minutes was never going to work for me; even journalists don't report that obsessively, and they get paid.

So, I ditched the every-hour and every-day paradigm and shifted to one from my student-mag days: weekly. Save up links over a week and put the best ones in a side-log, with a couple of longer pieces in the main log. Save the off-the-cuff comments for MeFi and email (yes, email—remember that? We don't email each other enough these days). I've only just started, but it feels good already. Kind of like a personal zine. Hence the newspapery design, kept simple so that I can focus on discussing ideas rather than discussing myself.

As for not using Blogger—well, even without recent events, it would seem pretty silly to save myself 'all that bother' of FTPing the log to my site when I only plan to do it once a week...

An Analysis of RIAA Figures

[Supplement to The Week Link, 28.02.01]

By their own account, they failed to get the CD-single format selling in great numbers until 1995—twelve years after CDs were introduced—when units shipped were up 130% on the previous year. Even after dropping significantly from the highs of 1997-99, 2000 sales were fifty percent higher than 1995's, and there sure aren't fifty percent more teenagers out there than there were five years ago.

A more significant comparison than CD single sales alone is between 1999 and 2000 total album sales versus total single sales (all formats—CD, cassette, vinyl). On their figures, it's true that there was a fall: 1065.4 million albums sold in 1999, 1020.7 in 2000; 61 million singles in 1999, 37.7 million in 2000. In dollar terms, the fall was more modest: $13,909.7 million from albums in 1999 compared to $13,868.2 million in 2000; $298.3 million from singles in '99 to $173.6 million in 2000 (a tiny percentage of the value of album sales, either way).

When you look at the early 1990s figures their chart shows just how significant a difference a weak or strong music year can make. Total album sales increased by about 10% from 1991 to 1992, an extra billion dollars worth, on the back of the grunge explosion. 1993-94 was such a strong year that sales of cassette and vinyl albums—both of which were on a long-term downward trend as CDs came into their own—actually increased, and CD sales increased by a third in unit terms, or almost two billion dollars.

They've had the same dream run throughout the 1990s, and 2000 album sales were still only slightly down on 1999, in a year when hardly any album other than 'Kid A' caught the public's imagination.

If they're so hung up on tracking downward shifts in total units sold or their dollar value, why stop at 1999-2000? How about that awful drought in 1996-97, when total units fell 6.5%, or 2.4% in dollar terms (worse than last year's dollar-value fall)?

Must have been because of all that FTP file-trading of scratchy low-bitrate WAVs. Must have been.