Category Archives: CMUN 297

CMUN 297 Final

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My my my, how the time does fly when you know your project’s due by the end of the night.

Anyway, here’s the final thing. The whole culmination of this class.

It’s not a very comprehensive look at the Chicago DIY/Craft scene, I admit. But it is an intimate look into three seperate pieces of the puzzle that make it up. I may, in the future, add to it. Who knows? But for now, enjoy what we’ve created.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

And since I have to be on the bus downtown to present this thing in less than half an hour, I’m afraid the music will have to wait, for tonight (sorry Rob).

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Dis-Unity

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I suppose one of the greatest strengths of the internet is that anyone can use it, and anyone can post their opinion. It’s curious to see just how much dissention this very fact can cause, though, even within groups that are “on the same side.”

I recently came across an Adbusters article claiming that brands are dead:

The monolithic notion of a “brand” – an infinitely dependable symbol of prosperity, happiness, comfort and security – is over… Our daily lives are now inundated by a torrent of dead images and meaningless symbols from a bygone era.

It seems interesting that a magazine such as Adbusters would claim this, since a large portion of their readership is… How do I put this… Of the hipster persuasion. Now, the true, committed, hxcore hipsters may be exempt from this, but many people who are simply trying the lifestyle on are devoted to a brand. If nothing else, it helps them focus their style down, so they can work on the other aspects of hipsterness. Or something. Hipster Runoff certainly doesn’t think its readers will be forsaking brands anytime soon:

Alternative lifestyle brands are the present and the future of the arts & entertainment industry. Bands will no longer be bands; they will be lifestyle brands. Designers are lifestyle brands. Films must exists as lifestyle brands. Blogs and Websites are lifestyle brands. Humans will be lifestyle brands.

At the same time, Hipster Runoff is something of a parody of itself, and claims that memes will be the future.

And in this sense, I think both parties are correct. Brands certainly aren’t going away, but memes are the future, at least in the capacity they do best: advertising. Take, for instance, GEICO’s new advertisement on YouTube:

While the hits on this particular video fall well below the mark set by the “Numa Numa” video it channels, 1.25 million views is nothing to scoff at. Too bad their motorcycle insurance is still more than double what Allstate is quoting (POW!).

I don’t know if that qualifies as particularly alternative. And it’s certainly not guerilla. In fact, it’s playing off of the popularity of a horrendously well-known meme, while including memes of their own (the dancing gecko, for instance). But wait! Isn’t YouTube the pinnacle of alternative media? By its simplicity and ubiquity, doesn’t it set a new standard for what an alternative media outlet should be? Perhaps, but it’s decidedly mainstream. Much the same way that all those worthy indie bands get played on the radio and lose their original fans (I, like, heard them before they even recorded stuff!), YouTube has lost a good deal of its alternative credibility.

And that seems to be the way things are going these days. Alternative media outlets are becoming mainstreamed, and actual alternatives to them aren’t surviving. Perhaps we should stop calling them alternative media, and start calling them “new media.” Or “not- necessarily- owned- by- a- huge- corporate- conglomerate-, but- might- be- media.” Or maybe it’s time to come up with an entirely new name for this altogether.

If my brief time examining alt./guerilla media has taught me one thing, it’s that the cycle of creativity-to-corporate-absorbtion will continue forever. Some innovator will come up with a radical way to present something (guerilla). Then someone will find a way to reproduce that in substantial quantities (alternative). And then, if they don’t sell out to corporations, the corporations will steal those ideas out from under them (mainstream). Which of course will make someone angry, so they’ll create some innovative/radical way to respond… And so on.

If nothing else, it should at least get us consumers some better-designed products. Just look at what Target has done.

Had enough? Here’s the music.

Speaking of mainstream, this first track is an avalanche of pop. But in a glittery, endearing way.

This second track brings much more to the table, both in terms of raw numbers of samples and genres. And it sounds incredible (better?) because of it.

Because that last one was so good, we’ll close out the night with this final track, which, like the last one, was made by the venerable Lenlow.

PS– This is my last “official” post for class, but that doesn’t mean I’m discontinuing this blog. I’ll keep writing as long as I have internet access, so keep checking back!

Zines– In Color!

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One trait that most zines share is their low-budget nature. Since these are mostly printed in low-volume amounts by individuals, paying a printer to run a few copies is generally out of the question. Not only is it prohibitively expensive, but printers generally don’t like to print low-volume editions, since switching over the presses is a rather expensive and time-consuming affair. Thus, with some exceptions, Xeroxed zines are the norm.

A New York Times article, however indicates that those limitations may soon be lifted:

With a new Web service called MagCloud, Hewlett-Packard hopes to make it easier and cheaper to crank out a magazine than running photocopies at the local copy shop.

Charging 20 cents a page, paid only when a customer orders a copy, H.P. dreams of turning MagCloud into vanity publishing’s equivalent of YouTube. The company, a leading maker of computers and printers, envisions people using their PCs to develop quick magazines commemorating their daughter’s volleyball season or chronicling the intricacies of the Arizona cactus business… “We’re not talking about replacing the Vanity Fairs of the world. But it’s a nifty idea for a vanity press that reminds me of the underground zines we had in the ’60s and ’70s.”

If this takes off, it will be really cool. The article goes on to say that there’s no guaranteed market for this service, since so much information and media is available for free on the internet, but acknowledges that it could still succeed. I, personally, love the feel of a magazine in my hands, as opposed to an image on my computer monitor. The minimized eye-strain certainly helps, too.

I’ve wanted to produce a zine for years now, but have never had anything to write about. I suppose this is as close as I’ve come, but without the ability to hyperlink, I think this would be a much less interesting forum. Still, even just producing a glossy magazine to show off artwork would be cool. I know when I was putting things together for my art show last summer in Detroit, it was frustrating that people would only be able to see a small amount of my work. A magazine index to hand out at an exhibition/gallery would be a wonderful marketing tool, especially if they only cost a few dollars each to produce.

I’m crossing my fingers for you, Hewlett-Packard. While I may not buy your computers, I’ll certainly support any innovative services you can offer, like this one.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted any work from Good Blimey, so we’ll go back there today.

I’m not a big Tom Petty fan, but this first track uses his instrumental in a way I can support.

While that last one was pretty pop-y, this second track is much weirder. And perhaps even more effective, because of it.

This final track left me agape, that’s how much I liked it. The Muppets+Kanye West= a good time. If you listen to one track this week, make it this one.

I think these are the best tracks I’ve posted in a while.

CMUN 297 Final Project

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(If you didn’t notice, I took the weekend off from posting, this week. I find that people don’t really read the site often on weekends anyway, and the days/nights are so packed that I rarely have time to post something meaningful. It may become a trend. It may not. Anyway, to the post itself.)

The final project for Guerilla Media is fairly open-ended. Essentially, we’re challenged to either create or document one of the movements/products we’ve been studying. I toyed with the idea of making a mashup series, but decided that I don’t yet have the know-how.

Instead, Nicole and I have decided to document the DIY/Craft movement in Chicago. Video-style. Here’s the proposal we turned in:

For our final project, we are going to explore the DIY and craft movements in and around Chicago. The primary product of this exploration will be a digital video, though we may blog about our progress, as well. I, Nathan Bobinchak, will most likely include bits about the final project in my daily updates for this class’ blog at the very least. We will also explore distributing our final work to the places that we will be going to do interviews, especially if the final product is over 15 minutes or so long.
So far, we have mostly crafting and utilitarian DIY sources lined up. We’re going to be talking to a Loyola professor/artist about her pottery and why she and so many others create functional objects, even though the same thing can be purchased for very little money in a store. We’re also going to be talking to sewers and knitters on the same topic. The Chicago Craft Mafia and their Do It Your Own Damn Self exposition will contribute to that exploration, as well. The Old Town School of Folk runs a circuit-bending workshop that we hope to get some information from, but we’re also interested in exploring the DIY/traditional side of folk music. Finally, we will be analyzing the means of documentation for these movements, through places like Spudnik Press, the Alternative Press Center, and zine distributors like Quimby’s.

The following are our sources, so far:

Chicago Craft Mafia
Kate Biderbost  (potter)
Old Town School of Folk
Mess Hall in Rogers Park (art collective)
Third Coast Comics knitters
Renegade Craft Fair/Artists
Spudnik Press

I’ve already filmed at the “Do It Your Own Damn Self” craft fair (the header picture is the poster for it), and I’ll post some of the footage soon.

If you can think of anything else that we’re missing, please let me know! We want to get as broad a view of the DIY/Craft community as possible.

Instead of mashups today, here’s another cool bit of audio-witchery. From the Third Coast International Audio Festival:

If all of the millions of mp3s on the web were played at the same time, it would sound like a deafening cacophony. But composer and computer scientist Peter Traub has figured out a way to sift through this sonic detritus to create something beautiful. He created a computer program, called Bits & Pieces, which culls linked sound files from the web and then automatically blends them, generating compositions with the found sound. Bits & Pieces produces an original web song every 15 minutes.

You can listen to his installation here, or here (if you have slow internet). Since it always changes, it’s worth checking back on. You’ll need iTunes or the like to listen to it, mind you.

Enjoy!

Citizen Journalism 2

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Yesterday, I was rather negative towards the idea of citizen journalists. If you want more details, scroll a couple of hundred words down.

Today, though, I’m going to share the brighter side of citizen journalism. For one, I like it better if it’s called “guerilla journalism.” Not only does it sound cooler, but it’s more accurate. Like guerilla fighters going up against a huge army, guerilla journalists have to use whatever their shoestring budgets will allow them to use to try to break their stories. And maybe break the giant media corporations.

When bloggers and citizen journalists are talked about in class, the “Dan Rather case” always comes up. In short, Rather and his CBS crew produced a story based on anonymous documents that showed evidence that former President Bush (44) skipped out on his duties in the National Guard. The blogosphere discovered that the documents were forged, Rather claimed that he did not know, and resigned shortly thereafter. Whether CBS knew they were faked or not, the bloggers brought them down.

Guerilla journalists continue this kind of work all over the globe. Though Tibet has been on lockdown from China for years, Tibetan bloggers still struggle and manage to get information out to the wider world, to tell their stories. I think that’s the strongerst type of guerilla journalism– personal accounts that wouldn’t otherwise be picked up by news sources, which make no pretense to follow traditional news templates. Instead of seeming like biased journalists, these people instead can come off as story-tellers, which makes them much more credible, as well as more interesting.

I’m running out of gas, so Daniel, if you have anything to add, please do.

Speaking of gas, this first track from DJ Earworm is one of my favorites.

Let’s just make that the theme for tonight. This second track isn’t my style, but it has gas in the name.

Actually, this final track has nothing to do with the word gas, but the track above it did. It just didn’t work. This one’s probably better anyway.

“Citizen” Journalism

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Though it is sometimes heralded as the future of the media, citizen journalism has raised my hackles for a while now. One of the reasons is this: the term “citizen” implies that there is some kind of vetting process to being a journalist, like getting a law degree or a pilot’s license. In a sense, there is a vetting process– your job application. Though it’s sometimes recommended (especially if you want to jump off into a big market), getting a Master’s degree in journalism isn’t required. This blog (the irony does not escape me), agrees:

“Calling it “citizen journalism” and holding it to a lower standard is nothing but a cop-out. Journalism is not a licensed profession, like law or medicine. But it is similar in that it has some fundimental ethical principles that journalists follow:

–Don’t publish things that aren’t true.
–Check your sources. Check them twice. If you’re not sure, don’t publish. Being right is better than being first and wrong.”

And so on.

All you need to do is be a capable journalist. With that and some clips, you can become a professional. Even if your major was Cat Astrology. That’s not to say that all citizen journalists aren’t adept enough to get jobs. Some are retired journalists who just don’t have the time or patience for deadlines anymore. Many, however, are simply reporting things how they see it, which is not journalism.

I had a great distaste for most blogs for years, because of this very reason. If I wanted news, I would go to a trusted source. If I wanted someone’s opinion, I’d ask them myself. The opinions of untrained “citizen journalists,” however, were unsolicited, and I believe there’s a reason they don’t get paid. If it sounds like I’m being something of a hypocrite, then good– that means you’re reading closely. While there are some opinion pieces (such as this), I try to share interesting alternative media artifacts, rather than wax on and on about how they make me feel. My level of success varies.

Anyway, I’ve been pointing out what I don’t like about citizen journalism, but I haven’t given any attention to their positive effects. For that, you’ll have to wait until tomorrow. For now, the music.

Lady Gaga makes her triumphant return to this site in this first track.

The instrumental and vocals on this second track have both been played here before, but not together like this.

This final track features two British bands close to my heart, the Beatles and Oasis. As much as I’d hate to distort “Let it Be,” I feel like it should be sped up a bit. Other than that, I absolutely love it.

Expansion 2

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I’d forgotten to introduce the second guy I aked to contribute to this blog back when I asked him, so now I’ll take the time to do it. Joe Halso loves mashups more than me. In fact, he probably loves them more than anyone I know. In that spirit, I’ve asked him to share his thoughts. Like any modern/hip/internet savvy person, Joe’s also up on all that other stuff I post around here, so you can expect that he won’t limit himself to mashups.

I think he’s planning on posting soon, so look forward to that.

Though he didn’t introduce me to it, Joe often makes a point to remind me to read Hipster Runoff. I’ve decided against posting bits from the site in the past, since its tagline is “a blog worth blogging about,” but in honor of Joe, I have a little something to share. When I came across this video, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the class that this blog was originally created for, and reminds me of our final project, as well:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

One of the suggested ideas is to make a viral marketing campaign/ internet meme and distribute it– not quite the same as this guy’s project, but similar. If you have any ideas for what I should do for my final project, please let me know– I think I’m supposed to know already, but I’m still not sure. It can be anything DIY/alternative media. If that sounds broad, it’s supposed to. This project is supposed to get our creativity flowing in whatever way we can.

This first track has “nylon” in the name. If you’re at all familiar with Hipster Runoff, you’ll understand why it makes sense.

The instrumental from this second track is from “Silver Lining,” my favorite track from Rilo Kiley’s newest album. And it works really well.

I’m a little bit divided on how I feel about this final track— it’s admirable for trying to do so much, but it sounds a little messy at points.