Identity for Sale

It has recently come to my attention that H&M are launching a range of clothes inspired by the character Lisbeth Salander from Stieg Larrson’s incredible book series. (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest. Collectively known as ‘The Millenium Trilogy’)

…ok

…so, Goth, black, leather… fair enough… but a fashion range? Errr… anyone who has read the books or seen the amazing movie can tell you that Lisbeth Salander doesn’t care about fashion. She wears clothes because they keep her warm and mean that she doesn’t get locked up for public indecency. As for what she wears… old jeans, scruffy t-shirts, piercings and tattoos… hardly the stuff to make a fashionista’s heart beat faster

I did try to find the original owner if this pic. If it's you please get in touch so I can give you full credit

This is a picture of actress Noomi Rapace from the original Swedish Girl With The Dragon  Tattoo movies and you can see what I mean. It works but it’s not meant to be stylish. I’ll admit I had a very hard time picturing anyone else but Rapace as Salander, so when I heard about an American remake I had my doubts, but judging from promo pics Rooney Mara can scruff up nicely. Whether she can pull off the attitude or not remains to be seen

You see, it’s not the clothes, make up or piercings that make Salander such a unique character, it’s her attitude. She’s anti-social, non-conformist bitch and is completely unlike any other fictional heroine that has came before her.

All this reminds me of a class discussion I was part of a few years ago back in Gateshead. The idea of being able to just ‘buy’ an identity off the shelves may seem stupid and unrealistic but just look at what happens. A kid who wants to be accepted as part of a peer group goes out and buys clothes and music that conforms to the rest of the group. As if having the same jacket will change who they are. Likewise a rebellious kid will go against that and choose to buy non-fashionable, shocking clothes in order to distance themselves from one group (I’m going to say ‘the popular crowd’ having been the teenage goth). Yet this becomes a way to find other people who have the same sort of interests and form new social groups.

Somewhere down the line someone has decided ‘That’s cool, I want to be a part of it’. Whatever ‘That’ is isn’t important right now. What is is the fact that the person has found something they want to be identified with. In this case, Lisbeth Salander is cool and edgy, and people who want to be identified as being cool and edgy will buy this stuff as it has the name ‘Lisbeth Salander’ attached to it. It doesn’t change who you are as a person. A woman wearing a Lisbeth Salander jacket probably is’t going to be able to hack into any computers, just like a kid who’s got some Nike trainers isn’t going to be able to run faster or jump higher. What these people want is for other people to look at them and think ‘That’s cool’.

Just for the record, if Salander was a real person, she’d probably hack into the companies bank accounts and help herself to the profits from the range. They are making money in HER name after all

As for myself… it goes on sale December 14th. I may have a look to see what the fuss is all about. I’d prefer to see for myself whether it’s worth spending my money on regardless of the name on the label. And if I can find something better somewhere else… Well, that’s my decision to make now, isn’t it?

MSCSM blog – Awesome bass, Zombies and social networks

Social Media class is just full of surprises. I never expected a Skype chat from America to be something I’d ever see in a classroom, yet it happened and we got an Awesome chat from Alan Levine about his Storybox project and about sharing online.

I’d like to tell you a little something about Newcastle. We have a bit of a beloved character who can be found busking on Northumberland Street. He plays bass guitar with some effects pads and he quickly earned the nickname ‘Awesome Bass Guy’ because he’s such an amazing player.

People loved him and pretty soon a Facebook group called The Awesome Bass Guy Appreciation Society was made to, well… appreciate how awesome he is. He found out and joined the group. As it turns out his name is Stephen Oliver Jones, he’s known by the nickname Ojay and he’s one of the friendliest guys in the world. He’s happy to stop and talk to people while he’s taking a break between songs, he’s happy to have his photo on Flikr and there are dozens of videos of him on Youtube, both playing solo and jamming with people who’ve brought their instruments along. All in all he truly deserves to be called ‘Awesome’. He now used the Facebook group to keep in touch with his fans and tell them when he’s going to be out and about

Newcastle is home to the Evolution Festival which is pretty popular. Anyway, someone on the Facebook group suggested that Ojay play at the next Evo Fest (which would have been 2010) and lo and behold, an online petition was born. Awesome Bass Guy to play Evo 2010! I wasn’t really keeping up with it at the time, I had a lot going on. But I do believe that it was successful. Not bad for a Facebook group about a busker. Check it out here

Social Media is making the world a smaller place and it has never been easier to share something with others just by sending it to someone one the internet. Take my Awesome Bass Guy story. I’ve just shared something that I think is great with all of you. We’ve all heard the talk about how there are good and bad things about this, like the recent riots and the clean up acts arranged after. The point is, someone knew something and was able to send it on quickly to others who were able to do the same. If it’s a good or bad thing depends on the person.

Another example. I’m a huge fan of Zombies. I love Zombie movies, I love the various Zombie walks that take place around Halloween. I recently found out about a game called 2.8 Hours Later. It’s a Zombie chase game that takes place in a city at night. Players have to find their way to a pre-determined ‘Resistance HQ’ while trying to avoid being caught by Zombies (ok, volunteers in Zombie costume). The game organisers advice everyone to bring their phones as a way of contacting the rest of the group. That way you can tell each other where the Zombies are, how many there are and how to get around them. I would love to take part in this but I can’t since this year’s event is sold out

There’s a bit on the site where you vote for which city you’d like them to come to. Under the part that says TIckets and Dates there’s a little part that says “Make a suggestion’ and if you click on that there is a list of city’s to vote for. Manchester is currently in second place. I would like to ask, in the interest of sharing over social media, if you could vote for Manchester. It would be amazing.

Some of you might even like the idea of a Zombie chase game yourself… others will probably think I’m insane.

MSCSM Blog – Blogging about Blogging?

I’m a little confused. Usually there is a clear topic of conversation here that I can muse upon, digital identity (I still feel like I missed the point on that one), Copyright laws… this week I’m not entirely sure what to write about.

There was lots of talk about the Sound Around You Project and about Blogging and Micro Blogging, as well as a detailed look into what makes a good blog post. And pictures of cake…

The Creative Commons law was discussed again, and the importance of giving credit where credit is due to the original owner of something. For example that picture of the amazing cake I just put. Thankfully in this case this is a photo that my boyfriend took of a cake that had been brought into his work for their weekly cake day so to my knowledge it hasn’t been published online anywhere else. I probably could have edited the paper out of the background though :-/

So here’s that picture again, this time I’ve done a little editing and got rid of a little of that background. I’m no great expert when it comes to editing photos and I don’t doubt for one second that there are people out there who could have done a better job than I have. But again, an image that I don’t think exists anywhere else online. Maybe the bakery that made it has a website and has pictures of this particular cake but those will be done professionally to make the person looking at it go ‘I must have this cake!’. You can practically guarantee that they won’t have a pile of paperwork in the back of their photo.

I like the Creative Commons thing, I’m just a little confused about how I’d go about finding a picture of a cake that I could put into a blog post that have the Creative Commons stamp of approval. I spent some time on Flikr last night trying to figure it out and maybe I was tired and had a head full of coursework, but I couldn’t figure out how to take a picture that I’d found that said ‘You can use this, just please give me credit’ and put it into the post that I was writing.

The content of a blog post is what matters most. Not the pretty pictures, but they do enhance things considerably in some cases. Blog’s that I read quite often include George R.R. Martin’s Not a Blog and Pixiewoo.com. These are two very different types of blog (That have little to do with music, sorry guys) so are presented in different ways. GRRM’s blog is about his work, appearances he’s making and general stuff that interests him. It’s your standard ‘Following a famous person’ blog which we all do so everyone knows what to expect. Pixiewoo is different. It’s a beauty blog which gives reviews about new makeup products so obviously it needs lots of pictures from the word go. Within seconds of opening the page there’s a picture of a new fragrance thats due out on the shelves in a few weeks. Yet this type of blog will have permission to use these photos from the companies that made them. If I went to Pixiewoo, copied the picture of that perfume bottle and posted it here odds are I’d get in trouble.

Raynauds

This is a horrible time of year for me.

I have a very big problem with cold weather. You see, I have Raynauds Phenomenon. Some medical websites refer to it as Raynauds disease which I strongly dislike. A disease is something that you catch like the common cold. I’ve had Raynauds for as long as I can remember. I don’t consider myself to be disabled or anything because of it. I just have to take extra care when it gets cold out.

So what is Raynauds?

It’s a circulation condition that affects the extremities. I get it in my fingers and toes. My toes usually aren’t too bad since I can wear thick socks and don’t normally have to take my shoes off while I’m out and about. The fingers are usually where its at it’s worst.

What happens is an exaggerated reaction to the change in temperature. When someone is badly exposed to the cold their body goes into shock and the blood supply will shut down in the hands and feet to go towards keeping the chest and organs warm. You can live without a toe, you need your heart. In a person with Raynauds this can happen by going outdoors when it’s snowing.

Image from nhs.uk

I’ll be honest, the guy in the picture has it a LOT worse than I do. But yes, my fingers do turn white and go numb when they get cold. I have had occasions where I’ve picked up a hot cup without realising just how hot it was and not been able to feel it. Not pleasant. Thankfully this only last a few minutes in my case.

However, after this comes the stage where my blood vessels effectively go ‘Oh $$%^@£, we made a mistake. Sorry!’ and try to make up for it by sending too much blood back to the fingers. This makes them turn purple and the only way I can describe the feeling is like slowly throbbing and burning from the inside out. This part hurts.

I don’t take any medication for it since there aren’t any that really exist. But it doesn’t really bother me that much. Remember, I’ve lived with this for 26 years and I’ve learned how to cope.

Gloves are teh awesomness! I usually end up spending a small fortune on new gloves every year. Also in times of emergencies carrying around a cup of coffee from one of the various coffee shops that are always around works wonders. The paper cups with the extra layer (like the Costa cups, or the brown sleeve that you get from Starbucks) work wonders as I can’t burn myself without noticing on those. I’ve heard other suggestions like carrying around re-usable heat pads, but I find those things annoying and I keep losing them.

So, warm gloves, plenty off coffee and staying indoors when the weather gets bad are all good things. So long as there’s no Annual hike up the mountains in the middle of winter in the pouring rain and snow I’ll be just fine 🙂

MSCSM Blog – Legal stuff and things

First off, I am getting far too tempted to blog about anything and everything so I’ve decided that the Important blog entries from now on are going to get the MSCSM title, just to keep it straight what matters and what doesn’t. Just in case I end up writing a small novel about how great a new shade of nail varnish is.

Now to the important stuff. In class this week we had a look at Copyright laws, The Creative Commons Licence and how things like this impact on people, be they working musicians or average people on the street looking to buy music.

I’m not chatty by nature, and my dislike of heights meant that I was feeling kinda nervous in class so I didn’t just shout this out, but this is a subject that I have looked at before now. Last year I attended a lecture given by Joe Bennett from Bath Spa University on Songwriting and Copyright Laws among other things. (He also has a WordPress site, joebennett.net which is well worth checking out as it has some very interesting and insightful things for anyone who’s interested in the music industry)

This lecture discussed the importance of understanding you legal rights under Copyright laws, especially for young musicians and songwriters. Mr. Bennett strongly urged that anyone performing original music should get themselves a PRS Licence to protect their legal right to royalties and payments, as well as to join the Musician’s Union. Of course this does little when faced with illegal downloading. This was discussed in class and we had a few differing opinions on the matter. Ranging to the outright ‘It’s Theft’ from those against it, to those who argued that it was introducing them to new bands who they were then going out and buying concert tickets and merchandise from.

The thing I found interesting was the point raised that ‘People think they’re entitled to free music, yet still think that they can make a living as a musician’. I’m no saint and I’ll admit to having illegally downloaded tracks in the past through sites like Limewire. These days I purchase legally through the Apple Store because I find it convenient, I often find myself only wanting one song and it can usually be found quickly and easily with a few mouse clicks.

The Music Industry has arguably been one of the slowest industries to adapt to the new Internet age. Music Downloading just doesn’t make as much money for the companies involved as the average person assumes it does, and it has been predicted that Independent Record stores will be a thing of the past by 2015. It can be argued that Live music is the most profitable path that a musician can take. I recently saw a concert by King Creosote and The Earlies at Band on the Wall where they performed a live album that they had no intention of taking into a studio to record and they actively encouraged audience members to bring their own recording devices and make bootlegs. In a similar manner fans of Nine Inch Nails took HD cameras into one of their concerts and filmed footage that they then edited together and make available to Torrent Download. Frontman Trent Reznor was so impressed with the results that he linked the Torrent site off the official Nine Inch Nails blog site.

Quick little P.S, There was talk of Mash Ups and making videos in class. It’s going to be a little hard for me to make anything like that in the immediate future (not ruling it out entirely) but in the interest of sharing here’s some tracks I’ve put on SoundCloud of varying degrees of quality. I truly hate the vocals on one of them as they were done quickly in my old flat in Newcastle through a crappy old Behringer Ultravoice XM8500 that has seen better days, and due to the lack of soundproofing I would quite often have to get rid of whole takes as I’d recorded people having rows or the sound of next doors tv. Not the best working conditions 😦

Brain goes tick…tick..tick…

This blog thing is tempting. Since setting it up I’ve been tempted to write about all manner of strange and random things, from my coffee addiction to the cheese and mustard mashed potato I made yesterday. I’m trying to resist the urge to Spam but I’ve been reading a few of the other blogs that my fellow students have been writing and it’s been making me think.

Mainly I’ve been thinking about my relationship with computers and technology in general. I’m an avid Mac user and I hate PCs to the point where I struggle to understand them. This could be simple stubbornness on my part and I respect that. But I’m so used to my Macbook that I don’t even need to look where the keys are to type. The keys are in different places on a PC and it confuses me.

(I’m not trying to do a Mac vs PC thing here. I’m too biased in favour of Apple, the room I’m sitting in right now has a total of 4 Macs in it. My Macbook, my boyfriend’s Macbook Pro and two old Macs from the 90’s. Add to this my boyfriend’s iPhone and iPad, plus my beloved iPod Nano and my plans to get an iPhone of my own in a month or so when the contract on my current phone expires. It’s safe to say I’m an Apple Fangirl)

The first ‘computer’ I have any real memories of would be a friend’s Nintendo 64 and losing badly at Mortal Kombat, and wanting one of my own so I could practice and not get beat within seconds. I had IT lessons at School, where we learned Word and how to make spreadsheets in Excel (Which I have never used once since then) but they were boring. Computers were things to do work on and writing with a pen was faster. It was the games consoles that were interesting. One Christmas my Mum bought a Sony Playstation with the rule that it was to stay downstairs and everyone could use it. This didn’t stop it from eventually moving up to my brother’s bedroom but that is the way things go. There were also a few games that came with it. Some Barbie one for my younger sister, a Tomb Raider game that nobody ever got past the first level of and Resident Evil 2. That it the one that made me want computers in my life (I was quite young and couldn’t get the whole ‘consoles are different from computers’ thing).

A few years later we got a PC to help with School work and for a while things were ok. However by this point we’d all learned about the Internet, and brother and sister were both addicted to stuff like Bebo and MSN. They’d be on the PC constantly and fight over who got to spend more time on it. They would race home from school and dive right into the computer chair without even taking their coats off or closing the door. So to me, the PC was something that got fought over and I was better off without. I didn’t care. I thought it was insane that they would rather sit indoors and ‘talk’ to their friends online when they only lived a few doors down the street. I could use a computer, same as anyone else. It just wasn’t worth the screaming match that it would have got me into to use the thing. I had a few websites that I liked and would probably go on them on saturday or sunday morning before my lazy siblings got out of bed but it wasn’t all that important to me.

When I started studying my Foundation degree I was told I’d be needing a laptop since my tutors did most of their work online and there would be a Student Website I’d need to have access to. (Gateshead College used Moodle, Salford uses Blackboard). I got a Mac based off my tutor’s advice that it would be better suited to the type of work I’d be doing. It took me a few weeks to get used to it but once I did I loved it. I do believe that it is so much easier to work with than the PC ever was. Best of all, I had moved out of my Mum’s house by this point so there was no-one to fight over it. I could use it whenever I wanted. And since the Mac was so ‘different’ my siblings didn’t want to play with it when they came to visit.

Something I’ve just remembered. Moving into my little flat was an interesting affair. I actually bought an Xbox 360 before I even bought a TV. I spent close to £250 on it if I remember right, and I only spent about £150 on a cooker from Argos which I didn’t get for a few weeks after the Xbox 360. Talk about getting your priorities wrong. Take out and microwave food is no way to live.

Today is October 6th 2011, the day Steve Jobs died. And I am kind of sad about it. 56 is too young to die, especially when you consider that people are living to be 100. At one point in my life I was describing myself as a technophobe and I had no interest in computers at all. Today I’m willing to admit to being an Apple Fangirl and I’m quite happy with that fact. So if anyone ever catches me giving the University PC’s evil looks or struggling with the keyboard, just remember, the @ key is in the wrong place and it has confused me.

Blog Time?

Hi people

This is my first ever blog so I’ll try to keep this making some kind of sense. My name’s Paula and I’m studying MSc Audio Production at the University of Salford. I like music of all kinds, my favourite bands/artist include Nine Inch Nails, The Foo Fighters, Fleetwood Mac and Newton Faulkner. I used to sing with the Gateshead College Splinta’s jazz band (or The Splinta’s for short) which was massive amounts of fun. I started out wanting to be a singer but found myself at my best when I was working with others, especially when it came to recording, editing and mixing tracks that I’d helped to write. It seemed like a rather good idea to pursue this further, which is why I’m studying a Master’s Degree. Other random info includes, I like make up and spend far too much money on the stuff and I have obsessions with the work of George R.R. Martin, kitten videos on Youtube and icanhazcheezburger.com. I will own a cat one day but my current living arrangements don’t allow for one.

I’ll be honest here, I’d never heard the term ‘Digital Identity’ before I started the Social Media Module and I had little idea of what it meant. In a way it’s like creating an Alter Ego online that you (hopefully) control and that you can use to create the way the world, or at least the Internet, perceives you. It looks to me like it works both ways. For example Amazon is still trying to sell me books by Christine Feehan, who I lost interest in years ago. Yet because I bought those books back in 2009 they’ve collected that data about me and send me an email every time she writes a new book even though I have no interest in buying it. So while I control what I put out there I have no control over how the world takes it or decides to use it…

…better make sure my embarrassing baby photos stay hidden then.

As for what I want to get out of this module. Well, a Twitter account was never on my list of priorities. But in all seriousness the Internet is an invaluable tool in todays world and I’d be crazy not to learn how to use it to my advantage while I have the chance to. Modern technology is changing the way the world works all the time and I want to understand that better.

Just to see if I can do this. I like pictures