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Enter the Story Booth
Just a thought from 31 July 2003 about .

Reposted from Storyblog 'cause it's so gosh darn nifty: This is just about the coolest thing I've seen in a long time. Newsweek reports on a new initiative spearheaded by David Isay of Sound Portraits called StoryCorps. The plan is to put up "StoryBooths" in public places, where participants work with facilitators to record their oral histories. When they're done, the participants get a copy on CD, and so does StoryCorps. Ultimately they also plan to distribute StoryKits for home recording. In the end they hope to build a giant audio archive of American stories.

Hey buddy, want an mp3?
Just a thought from 30 July 2003 about .

After listening to a particularly frustrating show on "Online Music Piracy" on KQED this morning, I got to thinking about a few things.

1. It is totally, 100% legal for me to loan (or even sell) a CD to a friend.

2. It is totally, 100% legal for me to "time-shift" a copyrighted work (like a TV show) for later viewing (a la TiVo).

Therefore, it should be totally, 100% legal for me to loan a CD to a friend, who then encodes it to mp3 to listen to later.

Now let's take it to the next logical step and leave out the CD altogether. It should be totally, 100% legal for me to loan a CD to a friend in mp3 format. Note that this is a non-monetary, one to one transaction. It's lending to a friend - not mass distribution.

What the RIAA mouthpiece on Forum was going on about (when he wasn't blowing smoke about the "artists" the RIAA has been screwing for years but now want to protect so badly) is that uploading a copyrighted song to a file-sharing network was distribution on a massive scale, and was therefore illegal piracy.

Fair enough. So what if we took the massive distribution out of the picture? What if I was just loaning music to my friends to review? That would be totally legal. And besides, I bet it would spur CD sales, as more people discovered more music. (One thing every dirty file-trader knows: Falling in love with an artist from a few downloaded mp3s can lead to lots of CD purchases. If you doubt it, I invite you over to see my bookshelf of Bjork CDs.)

So a practical example: I'm on a mac. I usually have iTunes (an mp3 player) and iChat (an instant messaging program) running. These two pieces of software know a lot about me: They know what music I like (via ratings in iTunes) and who my friends are (via buddies in iChat). They also know which of my friends are currently online and have the ability to send and receive files with them.

Together, they have all the pieces. How hard would it be to stitch the two together into a legal "lending to buddies" system? Add a contextual menu to a buddy's icon that says "browse this person's music." If selected, the person on the other end would get a message: "User Name wants to browse your music. Is this person a friend that you're willing to lend music to?"

They click yes and away you go. The browsing could take place in iTunes, with 30-second previews, just like in the iTunes Music Store. Except instead of a buy button, the user gets a "download for review" button. In some ways, this is the same functionality that was present, and then removed, in iTunes 4. But unlike that system (where anyone could tune in to your music, five users at a time), this system is only open to your buddies.

Or leave the apps out altogether. A "friend sharing" system could be stitched together solely on the web. Finally something to do on Friendster besides compare who's list is bigger!

And in a flash, the "mass distribution" problem is gone, because you're not distributing to the whole world. Remember, it's not piracy to loan music to your friends. And best of all, imagine how much fun it'd be to browse your friend's music libraries. You might even find some CDs you'd like to buy.

This plan wouldn't stop the recording companies from treating their artists like something they stepped in. And it wouldn't stop them from charging way too much for new CDs (if market pressure hasn't brought the prices down yet, I don't know what will). But it might just create a system strong enough to withstand the lawsuits that are beginning to fall like rain.

If you build it, sign me up!

Beats me
Just a thought from 28 July 2003 about .

AlterNet: Hail the Prada-Worshipping Queer

It's the sort of show that convinces me our entertainment industry makes us all victims of a sort of battered wife syndrome. We expect our television to debase us, empty us, and condescend to us. And, for the most part, we'll all be back for more.

At first glimpse, I couldn't have agreed more with this assessment of Bravo's new show, Queer Eye For the Straight Guy, where five gay men redesign some slobby straight guy's life. I mean, if it was a minyan of heebs going over a goy's finances, I'd be in the street with a picket sign. (And besides, boring!)

Then, the other night, I found myself in the park with the pups for the midnight walk. I bumped into two neighbors with their dogs. Both gay men, older gents, definitely not hipster club types, were discussing the show. And they loved it.

"But doesn't the stereotyping bug you?" I asked.

I can't remember their response verbatim, but the basic gist was: Who cares? It's a funny show. And they really are helping the hapless straight guy. So what's the harm?

I went home and created a season pass.

Spread the word
Just a thought from 27 July 2003 about .

fray day 7

It's coming!

Applause
Just a thought from 26 July 2003 about .

My two favorite songbloggers (please tell me I didn't just invent that word) Scott Andrew and Shannon Campbell are taking part in Blogathon 2003 by spending 24 hours blogging for charity.

Big deal right? How hard is it to hit a post button over and over? Well, in this case, these two amazingly talented songwriters are collaborating on songs in public. The day started with Scott posting a text snippet and the song grew from there. Thirteen and a half hours later, the first song was done. Two guitars, two voices, multiple harmonies ... hell, the thing even has a harmonica solo! And now, as I type this, the two crazy kids are working on song number two.

Oh, and they're 2630.6 miles apart, collaborating via email and instant messages. I've been a part of many a band that couldn't get it together when were all in the same room. This? This is phenomenal.

And if all that wasn't enough, they've raised almost a thousand dollars for Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation, which supports music education in underserved schools nationwide.

Here's to the two bestest, brightest, bravest songwriters I know. Bravo!

Storyblog rocks
Just a thought from 26 July 2003 about .

Over at Fray, Storyblog has been digging up all kinds of booty lately. A few recent finds:

If you don't check out Storyblog on a regular basis, you're missing out! Do check in on us now and again. And if you know of a great story site, let us know.

The missing photo
Just a thought from 25 July 2003 about .

See? I was there.

dmp, lit at the canvas

Thanks to Tantek «elik for the photo!

Sideways glance
Just a thought from 25 July 2003 about .

Genki Gang plus Fray Criminal gives me an idea....

Lit at the Canvas Recap
Just a thought from 21 July 2003 about .

The Lit at the Canvas event was a blast. Paul Flores kicked things off in high gear with hyperkenetic slam poetry, Elizabeth Rosner read sweet, beautiful prose from her novel, "The Speed of Light." Daphne Gottlieb delivered passionate poetry with one hand on her book and the other flailing wildly. And Jack Boulware read stunning, hysterical stories, ending with a treat for those who stayed late: An inside look at a porn film shoot. Naked text, indeed.

And me? Mostly I didn't stutter, and a few folks thanked me for my stories, so I feel pretty good about it. I read a new SF Story, The Silly Person, which is another case of turning the insanity of life into a story, if just to exert some control over the chaos. Then I read a couple old favorites: The Nicest Person in San Francisco (how weird is it to read a story about being a stupid 17 year-old when you're 30?) and An Unusual Heat (for Heather).

A great time was had by all. Or, at least, by me. Giant thanks to Kevin and Melinda for including me on the bill!

Read on for photos. »

Continue reading “Lit at the Canvas Recap” »

Monday!
Just a thought from 19 July 2003 about .

Hey San Franciscans! Come see me and a bunch of other cool writerly folks perform this Monday, July 21, at 8:30pm, at The Canvas Cafe (9th Avenue at Lincoln). It's only five bucks - that's a measly one buck per performer! It's sure to be a great night.

Lit at the Canvas: A Celebration of San Francisco Literature
Monday, July 21st at 8:30 PM
The Canvas Cafe (9th Avenue & Lincoln, SF) $5

I even wrote a brand new SF Story for the occasion! Here's a taste:

I'm not usually one to go in for a horoscope, but when you're trapped on a Muni train on your way to work, any reading material will do – even the last few tattered pages of the Chronicle you find on the floor. That morning my fortune warned me: "Silly people will try to get in your way today. Ignore them."

I should have listened.

Come on Monday to hear the rest! (If you can't make it, I'll post the story on Tuesday.)

Linky love
Just a thought from 18 July 2003 about .

Fray's Storyblog is mentioned in the New York Times today. I get a quote or two in there, too!

Also, the new issue of Inkblots Magazine is online today, and Heather and I contributed a photo gallery. Check out the whole issue - there's lots of great stuff in there.

A Stain on the Country is Worse than a Stain on a Blue Dress
Just a thought from 14 July 2003 about .

There are two things you don't discuss in polite society, and one of them is politics. The other is sex, I think. Not really being a member of polite society, I'm not sure. So I think I'll try to cover them both in this post.

Anyone paying attention last decade will remember that we started with a Bush in the White House, a huge recession, and the US bombing the hell out of Iraq.

In the middle there was Clinton, who was well liked and did some good things. Then he stuck a cigar in an intern and everything went to hell. The whole country wasted a huge amount of time and energy discussing the word "impeachment."

Now we have Bush part two. Third verse, same as the first: recession, unemployment, and bombing Iraq. The Bush family really needs to get some new lines.

Speaking of lines, it turns out that Bush and team's reasons for going to war are now falling apart. There are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, aside from the ones we dropped. No nukes. No gas. No Saddam, either.

So there we have it. Clinton lied about sex, Bush lied about bombs. The difference? In the Bush version, over 6,000 people died. In the Clinton version, there was only a petit mort. So you tell me: Which man is unfit to lead?

Let's stop this nonsense. Get the truth, and get Bush out.

We now return to our normal, polite posting schedule.

Continue reading “A Stain on the Country is Worse than a Stain on a Blue Dress” »

Overheard
Just a thought from 14 July 2003 about .

Overheard in the coffee shop last week:

Person A: If your dog could talk, what's the first thing he would say?

Person B: What?

Person A: "Mom, am I adopted?"

New in {fray}: The Lesson
Just a thought from 14 July 2003 about .

This month's story is a heavy tale of life lessons learned the hard way, and there's is no easy answer at the end. A tall order for a thousand words, but Vincent pulls it off with grace and subtlety. Check out the newest Fray story: The Lesson. More....

More urban texture
Just a thought from 13 July 2003 about .

A random bit of art on a staircase in Lower Haight.

New York City Writing Project
Just a thought from 10 July 2003 about .

If only I could be a fly on the wall of this class today....

Random bits
Just a thought from 9 July 2003 about .

A new contribution to the Mirror Project from our trip to Vancouver.

Favorite referrer of the day. (Have I sung the praises of Textism's Refer? No? Well, la la laa!)

My Sutro photo was well received on the ol' Pile, so I made 'em a bigass version.

Happy birthday Caterina
Just a thought from 9 July 2003 about .

When Heather and I were in Vancouver, we finally got to meet Dos Pesos. He's cute as a bug and he does one heckuva prairie dog impersonation.

onecutepup.jpg

Happy Birthday to Caterina (that's her, grinning in the background)!

Upcoming SF Event: The Canvas
Just a thought from 9 July 2003 about .

Hey San Franciscans! Come see me and a bunch of other cool writerly folks perform on Monday, July 21, at 8:30pm, at The Canvas Cafe (9th Avenue at Lincoln). It's only five bucks – that's a measly one buck per performer! It's sure to be a great night.

Read on for the full press release.

Continue reading “Upcoming SF Event: The Canvas” »

Sutro sunset
Just a thought from 8 July 2003 about .

Our flight to Vancouver treated us to a stupendous sunset over a blanket of fog around Sutro Tower.

Update: 'Cause someone asked, here's a 1024x768 version suitable for desktopping!

The internet is what we make it
Just a thought from 8 July 2003 about .

If the internet is shit, then this site is just another festering turd. Not that I disagree with everything - the net was over-hyped and some perspective is in order. But how exactly does adding another site to the web to kvetch about it solve the problem?

Complaining is easy, in any medium. Making beauty, creating something important, telling stories, connecting people ... that's the hard part. And the worthwhile part. And the part that some of us (myself included) have been trying to do for years.

If the anonymous author of internetisshit.org really believes his own rant, maybe he should stop pretending that his shit doesn't stink, and go out there and make something worthwhile.

Knowing spam update 2
Just a thought from 8 July 2003 about .

So ten days ago I signed up with KnowSpam. In that time, it's snared 12,334 spam messages for me. That adds up to roughly 36,000 spam emails I'd get in a month - far more than I expected.

For those of you who still don't think that spam is a big deal and people can just delete it if they don't like it, think about it this way: I just saved myself from hitting the delete key 36,000 times a month. Not bad, as time savings goes.

But the real joy is that I can now access my email on my Danger Hiptop. I've had the device for months, and it's had email functionality that whole time. But the email interface shows only 11 lines at a time, and only 18 characters of the subject line. When 95% of your email is spam, it's like finding a needle in a haystack. Literally.

So I never used the email functionality. Basically, because of spam, I couldn't use one of the key features of a device I'd bought for that purpose, and pay a monthly fee to use. And they say spam has no financial impact.

Now, thanks to KnowSpam, I only get good mail. So I've turned on the email checker on the Hiptop and get to see the good messages as they trickle in. In fact, I get so little mail, this weekend I sent a message to myself just to make sure it was still working.

It was.

More spam coverage: BusinessWeek Online: The Only Way to Can the Spam.

Urban textures
Just a thought from 7 July 2003 about .

I contributed an old favorite to the July theme over at Lalaland.

And, yeah, after a harrowing few hours of immigration lines, security lines, and baggage lines, we're home safe and sound. Phew.

Greetings from Vancouver
Just a thought from 6 July 2003 about .

The young lady with the missing nose ring who was manning the Screaming Eagle Chair Lift on Grouse Mountain (appropriately named, judging by the overheard tourist conversations) asked me where we were from. "San Francisco," I said. "But Heather is Canadian."

"Oh," she said. "Then I like her better."

Such is the state of relations with our neighbor to the north. My jokes that I left my home country for July 4 because I didn't want to encourage it fell flat, as the chair came and scooped us up and delivered us to a sweeping view of Vancouver through the trees.

Appropriate, then, that the reading material we brought with us to the Sylvia Hotel begins with an essay on America and Canada called Northern Light. In it, author Hendrik Hertzberg discusses the neighboring countries as old friends, struggling to stay on pleasant terms. Favorite quote: "Good old Canada. Itís the kind of country that makes you proud to be a North American."

Indeed.

The Orchid
Just a thought from 1 July 2003 about .

'Cause dad asked.

Continue reading “The Orchid” »

Wha?
This section is called Just a Thought. It's a blog where I post little pieces of what I'm thinking about at the moment. This page shows thoughts from July 2003, including:

Enter the Story Booth
31 July 2003

Hey buddy, want an mp3?
30 July 2003

Beats me
28 July 2003

Spread the word
27 July 2003

Applause
26 July 2003

Storyblog rocks
26 July 2003

The missing photo
25 July 2003

Sideways glance
25 July 2003

Lit at the Canvas Recap
21 July 2003

Monday!
19 July 2003

Linky love
18 July 2003

A Stain on the Country is Worse than a Stain on a Blue Dress
14 July 2003

Overheard
14 July 2003

New in {fray}: The Lesson
14 July 2003

More urban texture
13 July 2003

New York City Writing Project
10 July 2003

Random bits
9 July 2003

Happy birthday Caterina
9 July 2003

Upcoming SF Event: The Canvas
9 July 2003

Sutro sunset
8 July 2003

The internet is what we make it
8 July 2003

Knowing spam update 2
8 July 2003

Urban textures
7 July 2003

Greetings from Vancouver
6 July 2003

The Orchid
1 July 2003

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The Fine Print

Working the web since 1995, Derek Powazek is the creator of many award-winning websites, a couple of which still exist. Derek is the cofounder of JPG Magazine and the CCO of 8020 Publishing. Derek lives in San Francisco with his wife, two nutty Chihuahuas, a grumpy cat, and a house full of plants named Fred. More »

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Recently

Enter the Story Booth  31 July 2003

Hey buddy, want an mp3?  30 July 2003

Beats me  28 July 2003

Spread the word  27 July 2003

Applause  26 July 2003

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