Wednesday, July 27, 2011

No Depression in Heaven & other musical thoughts...

As most know the world lost Amy Winehouse last week.  Clearly it is too easy to speculate why… because it is.  Simple.  Painful.  Sad.  Music is powerful stuff.  I believe that power is due to music’s source within our deep core selves.  At least for me music has a direct line to my emotional self.  So this week I found myself listening to her music a lot (my favorite song being:” Love is a losing game”).  Take the power of music; mix it with a troubled soul, money, fame, addiction… and some do not survive.  Her loss this week was an all too eerie reminder of the “27 club”… Robert Johnson, Jimmy Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain (to name some of the more famous) and now Amy Winehouse… all dead at 27.  

This blog short post at the No Depression music site was great and hooked me up with this moving clip. (embedding of this clip was disabled by request so off you go to YouTube). FYI...the title "No Depression", refers to a song written by southern gospel pioneer J.D. Vaughan called "No Depression In Heaven.".  Truly one hopes there is “No Depression in Heaven” for Amy… RIP.

Given I am cursed with the need to seek balance  (I figure I could be cursed w/ much worse)…I eventually found some musical balance and was uplifted today when I ran across another talented singer -  Y’akoto. (her website is in German w/ some English Translation).  She is German/Ghanaian & mixes deep soul, blues & Jazz coming up with (to my ear) an authentic fresh sound .  I hear Billy Holiday’s phrasing at times, with an African soul/blues feel.  Music like wine defines language… it must be experienced.  So with that note… check her out.  I have listed a few resources because I’ve struggled finding good sound quality samples.   The only full song I found where “Baby Blues” and “Tamba” on this Okayafrica profile (found via this brief but good Spotlight in the Afropop blog).   Definitely someone worth keeping an ear out for. 

More later - robward

Thursday, July 14, 2011

They asked...

Hello all,  I know I've been slacking, but it is summer and the weather has been stellar here lately.  Today I was weeding thru emails and got hit up by the Linden Labs survey regarding their 'direction' related to social media integration.  I appreciated the fact they asked me to share my thoughts, especially in the opened ended fashion in it's last question.  I thought (just so folks don't think I've abandoned SL and the blog entirely) I would re-post my survey response here.  In case you didn't get the survey on the last of 4 or 5 pages of questions there was a list of social media sites and we were asked to toggle the ones we have accounts with and then they asked what other thoughts I might have on the topic.  Here is my (slightly more fleshed out) response:
Ugh... I find all this 'connecting' via the web to be a bit over blown (or at least a lot of tedious work to keep up with for not much payoff).  I have FB and twitter accounts because other people that I am interested in and am connected to have them. (Connections originating via rl, sl and some blogs of interest, etc.) As a working professional I find the 'privacy practices' of FB to be callously careless if not outright malicious. On that front I am interested in the possibilities of Google + (will they have learned from FB's bumbling?).
I love the community that has evolved for me over my 4 years in second life.  I love it BECAUSE it is diverse.  Please note that creating communities of common interest seems to be a bit of an oxymoron if you ask me.  Community for me isn't about connecting to more folks like myself.  It is about connecting to folks who are different from me.  Sure some shared interests overlap (for me often the shared interest focuses around the arts and technology and how we explore and create w/in this digital domain).  While I love finding people anywhere who share an interest w/ me... I've found the key thing SL offers me, is the ease w/which I can make connections with folks NOT like me.  How else would I have made friends w/ folks from; Hong Kong, Japan, Belgium, UK, Germany, New York, Virginia and California?  Just to list a few folks I spend time with exploring the arts and the technology of immerse virtual worlds. (I hasten to add that part of the ‘art’ in sl revolves around exploring identity and anonymity… something that is highly relevant to any discussion of SL’s compatibility with social media).  
I suggest that while making sl more compatible and integrated with social media is interesting and potentially may drive revenue your way (which I accept that you need that revenue - this is why I've been a premium resident and land holder for over 4 years)... This integration w/ social media is soooo beside the point for myself.  Good luck finding the middle ground... after all you are no longer the only game in town... but what SL has that other OpenSim communities don't quite have (w/ the possible exception of InWorldz, OSgrid, and Reaction Grid) is  a critical/creative/social mass.  In short, you still have enough folks who are different enough to keep my interest.  When you no longer have enough folks who are different enough, or when someone else has similar offerings (that allows for user created environments) I may indeed move along.
I've gone on too long now I know...yes I am passionate about SL... I am committed to seeing it remain viable and grow...and I am not at all afraid of change (frankly I love the Viewer 2.x that 3rd party’s fixed and released... but don't get me started.  You are on the right track with basic and advanced modes while you focus of those first hours and days of a new user’s experience).  Ok... well you asked.  I hope it wasn't a rant.  I do tire of rants for rants sake.  Good luck!

So that is where my head is still at related to SL.  As for my other more current creative endeavors.   I've been delving into programming more; Processing (fun ways to make images do mysterious and wonderful things), Javascript, HTML, Flash & CSS, etc... but also reading about Object Oriented Programming and Mathematics.  (Focus has never been my strong suit.)  Not much interesting to see yet.  My happiest find on the web related to my interests (saying way too much about my none too exciting life.) actually has been finding the Khan Academy.  What a wonderful resource for anyone who is math averse and challenged by those things you know you should know but are afraid to admit you don't (like fractions, decimals, unit conversion).  This site is very well set up (the educator is me finds it down right inspirational).  I started with addition and am now working my way thru algebra (having a better understand of which is oh so helpful w/ programming) and geometry.  Will I be brave enough to move into calculus... I just might be!  I've even started working more with LSL and tutorials finally are beginning to make a bit of sense to me, so hopefully I will be back into sl doing 'stuff'  that is more interesting (to me at least).  In the mean time enjoy your summer (if you are in northern hemisphere)... relax and explore.