Procrastination 2.0

How do you begin an article that your attention span doesn’t want you to write?

Personal development blogs. I have several of them in my rss reader. But don’t tell the boys.

Every now and then when I’m not procrastinating I have a browse. It encourages me to keep my nose out of the recruitment market and try to spend my days on my own terms. I’ve done alright so far. I got out of the bank, got a diploma and started creating Loud Thought, which was a culmination of ideas that had been brewing in different kegs for years. I get up when I want, stay up as late as I want. Play my drums when I want. Hang out with the Mrs when I want and see my mates when I want. I do my work when it feels comfortable and I dress to suit the weather.

Sounds ok, I’m not sitting on the bones of my arse, theres food on my proverbial table. But I don’t earn enough money yet to buy my mates gifts on their birthdays. The best I can do is to join them in a box of double browns. I don’t reap the benefits of having an employer – things like paid holidays and a collection of pens. All my socks have holes in them. The point is…  if I read a blog like this from time to time, I can smell the fresh socks just around the corner.

A lot of it may seem a bit wanky. It probably is. Like I said, don’t tell the boys. Every now and then, though, there are little gems amongst the coal. Such as, get amongst the people and endeavours that really interest you. The net is pretty good at facilitating this.

You may not at all be interested in “working for youself”. Cool, it’s just an example. But, I can guarantee that there are things you would really like to do if only the noise of living didn’t interfere.

Don’t get me wrong. I fuck around as much as the next man. Gasp!? I mean, theres always more I could be doing, I could work harder. I could write more articles,  approach more web design clients, play more drums, write more tunes, play more golf, etc etc

But heck, I just need to check facebook first.

Lets face it (a subtle pun, no apoligies). It’s more addictive than chocolate. Even if stuff.co.nz tells me that

Facebook friends ‘could be spies’.

Perhaps it should be called.

“Tom from Myspace now writing for Associated Press”

Of course they sap our time. These websites are designed to put ads in front of our faces while gathering valuable commercial information about our habits and interests. Thats why they’re free to use. Thats why Fox bought Myspace. Thats why you now say “Google”, instead of “Search”. It may seem quite new but really, it’s an old business model with a modern interface. More effective because marketers have better access to their niche.

There is plenty of good to have blossomed through web 2.0 such as open source culture and a new set of pipes for the voiceless. Blogging has changed the lives of people living under oppressive rule. It’s made communication easier. It’s made education more accessible. You just need to keep your bullshit filters running, it’s easy to get sidetracked.

Don’t let it be your biggest distraction, make it your most powerful resource.

Those are my words of wisdom for the week. Now I have to wrap this up – I’ve been putting off doing my tax return since the 31st of March and I’ve discovered I can do it online.

But heck, I just need to check facebook first.

Maybe I’ll write an article about Procrastination

I started playing the drums when I was six years old. The olds bought me a geriatric drum kit from a garage sale and started banging it while I was next door playing cricket. Even though I was batting, I raced over the 6 foot tall corrugated iron fence ( instead of running all the way around ) and Took The-Fuck Over.

Drumming was cool for a kid.  I would usually play until the mungies started throwing rocks at the shed. I would generally just jam. Dad showed me a couple of basic beats- I can’t really remember if he tried to get me to learn the rudiments and fundamentals at that stage. My enthusiasm for making noise would have quickly spat in the face of real practice anyway. I would JAM.

From about 7 or 8 years old I started jamming with Dad’s various bands on the occasions he would take me and my bro along to the pubs and pads and parties with him. Nostalgia kicks in at times like this. The old fellas loved having us around. It wasn’t hard to make ‘em laugh, sneak beers and get a bit loose round the buggers.

I had some pretty ruthless times when I hit 13 and started jamming with some older guys in their early 20’s. Some hippyish sort of punks that would take me to a pub in Ahuriri every Thursday night to drink Bully Hays and jam till the pub shut. We were “Paris Trout”. I don’t know how my classmates and teachers couldn’t see how rollicking pissed I was every Friday morning in English class,  followed by P.E. – which is when servere hangovers kicked in. I also dunno how the olds bought my 1am bedtime story when I would come home after school on Fridays and sleep until Saturday Night.

I will also be eternally grateful they gave in and let me go away for a weekend with Paris Trout to Wellington to play at a party. It was a hard sell and it took threats from my band that they were going to kick me out before Ma and Pa let their 13 year old hit the road. That Friday night I played to a full house (that has since been condemned and demolished), slept in a car and enjoyed some older breasts.

School had me playing a bit of drum with various orchestras and choirs and rock bands and percussion groups. At 14 I got a girlfriend by being approached by a girl who’s school I had drummed at the week before. Touched some titties that night too, just quietly.

Getting to my point. That’s what drumming was for me my entire life. Band practice and gigs were the only time I played.  I got better gradually,  it came quite easily to me. The thing was, practice was boring. My occasional lessons were boring. I thought I was good, but by the time I became an adult I realised that the kids who started drumming and taking lessons seriously in their teens were playing in Tool cover bands. I started when I was six and couldn’t even play “Sober” properly. I’d missed the fundamentals and the reason I missed them is because the thought of proper practice sent me into procrasti-mode.

Procrasti-mode. It’s not even a real word but you know exactly what I’m talking about.

My dear friend is at University and he loves studying. Until he has to do it. My girlfriend has a University Degree in illustration and HATES drawing. Until she’s finished. It becomes a battle against your own will to find any excuse to slack off.

Why?

I think at the moment, in most things we do, we are captivated only by the results.

What we need to love is the process.

Think about that for a second until you reach the thought that  inevitably follows – “Is that right, Jakob? Your Parents sounds pretty cool mate, but how the fuck do I do that”.

Well… We’re going to find out for you. We will plough deep into the heart of self help books and new-age wish-wash and try to return with sensible ideas for getting things done. Stay tuned. This will be an ongoing subject because I think it’s one that affects us all and could do with a lot of attention.

I would also love to hear everyone’s input on this. Share your stories and thoughts below.


A Good Teacher is an Artist

Life without knowledge is death in disguise.
Talib Kweli

An inspiring teacher is a gift to the world. I know that when I was at school, one of the most crucial elements in me ‘getting’ something was the way in which a teacher was able to capture my imagination. Unfortunately, I had my fair share of uninspiring professors whom in several cases put me off their subject for life. I was never really seriously interested in science until I started reading science fiction, then I wanted to know all about artificial intelligence, biological engineering and time travel, but it was too late, my time in the academic world was over. Now though, the learning need never stop. Over the past year a number of video websites have been popping up featuring free educational videos from some of the world’s top scholars.

Academic Earth has the purported goal of “giving everyone on earth access to a world class education”. The site is a growing collection of lectures and talks from some of the world’s top scholars and speakers, organised into categories. In some cases there is an entire university course worth of videos. Ahhh, Introduction to Robotics, just what I was looking for. Better yet, here’s something that might be of more interest to our members:

FORA.tv takes a slightly different route  offering videos from foreign policy experts,  politicians and other experts on the ‘people, issues and ideas changing the planet’. Sounds fascinating, and it is. And it’s free too.

Lastly I want to add Ted.com a site Jake has linked to in the past. This site offers thousands of hours of inspiring, educational talks and performances from a truly broad spectrum of people, from zoologist / author Richard Dawkins to  novelist Isabel Allende. It is a truly valuable resource for those of us searching  the depths of human experience.

I spoke to Jake about these offerings and he offered his  insight into why these services matter.  I’ll leave him the last word.

“Sites like these seem to relate more to “discovery” as opposed to “creativity”. But is there a difference? Is what we call creativity (arts etc) merely a beautiful way of explaining our discoveries? Perhaps an artists first mission is discovery, experience and knowledge and their second is to express it- describe it in a sublime way.

What can this pool of knowledge and ideas and the sharing of experiences do for our Us ? If expressed the right way, through our artists and writers and musicians and film-makers ( a good teacher is an artist like a good artist is a teacher), this information can penetrate so deeply into our collective mind that we can cause real change. And that’s what this world needs,  isn’t it?

Talib Qweli told me, “Life without knowledge is death in disguise”. I challenge you, everyday, to learn something and describe it.”

Academic Earth
FORA.tv
Ted.com

April 2009 Loudthought Newsletter.

LoudthoughtOk, I think it’s about time for a newsletter. Our intial few months since launching the website have been awesome, big thanks to Omar for helping Loud Thought get this far. We now have 60 members, hundreds of verso subscribers and about 3 twitter followers. What have we learned so far? Well, don’t spend thousands of your own dollars distributing posters and flyers throughout the country. It doesn’t work, so use tax-payer money instead. I’ve also learned that writing a newsletter is harder than building a website.

I haven’t yet experienced anything as rewarding as kicking my salary at one of our largest financial institutions and trading it for an empty wallet. Banking sucks. Nothing gives me goosebumps on the back of my neck quite like thought of dealing with impatient zombies, except perhaps the rats-tale I have since grown. Writing heaps of lines of website code sounds tedious and boring but add a cone of Wellingtons finest to the deal and it becomes more thrilling for me than playing Grand Theft Auto with the weapons cheat on. If it wasn’t for naked ladies and virtual reality, this would be the most exciting thing I could do.

Trying to avoid sounding like Tony Robbins here, I would like to say that as creative people, we all have an unprecidented opportunity to escape (or at least minimise) the drudgery of ‘working life’ . That is the beauty of this technology we now have and that is the inspiration behind this website and the resources we aim to provide. There are so many bad-arsed things the internet can do for artists. We want to bring them to you.

So of late I have been working hard behind the scenes, making our website shine. I’ve built a few new features and polished some of the others.

Here’s some of the details.

Updated Events guide

The main feature people have been asking for is the ability to promote upcoming gigs/events/exhibitions. Thus we unleashed it. Now members can share and promote their upcoming events using our billboard.

If you or someone you know is playing a gig, running an event or has an exhibition coming up – steer your ship to “upcoming events” (under ‘profile’ in the navigation menu) and tell us about it. Like damn near everything else on Loud Thought – It’s free! and rediculously easy.

We also have a premium feature where you (or anyone) can upload a promo poster for a gig or event, for 10 bucks a week. Just like on the walls of your city except they won’t get ripped down and plastered over.

How the hell do I use Loud Thought? A quick primer

If you’re not too sure about how this Loud Thought thing works, how’s about I brush over a few of the details.

Your Profile:

Fill in this information depending on your situation- you might want to find work, or want to find people to collaborate with or you may simply want to promote your art. Either way, exposure is your best buddy and this information is valuable to anyone on the hunt for your talents.

Let me illustrate with a few examples- you may be an illustrator wanting to meet with authors, a drummer looking for a band, producer looking for a rapper, band looking for an engineer, film-maker looking for a soundtrack, photographer looking for models, actor looking for roles. Painter looking for commissions. And of course – vice versa.

All artists have a target audience. Peers, Fans, Clients, The industry, Customers… Tell us about your skills and your experience and interests and most importantly- tell us about your creations and we can help you make valuable connections with other creative people and the various support channels for creatives in New Zealand.

Uploading stuff – building a showcase:

We also let you upload examples of your work. You may have seen these features on Rupert Murdochs cash-spinner “Myspace” – accompanied by a disgusting littering of advertising. Loud Thought helps you prepare a pristine, elegant showcase of your music, pictures (photos or traditional art), videos or literature. Or ALL of them.

Showcase albums/songs or samples you’ve produced, photos you’ve taken, paintings you’ve …painted, films you’ve directed or written or videos of your gigs / performaces, stories or articles or poems or novels you’ve written. We select people who have a model profile to be featured on our homepage, for even more exposure.

You can also link to your other websites and profiles around the web. Ths feature can be found under “Links” in your profile menu. These will also randomly appear on the homepage. So share them round.

We also have a built in messaging system so you can get hold of each other if you don’t want to make your email address public.

We’re Looking for contributors

Aspiring Journalist? Writer? Devourer of online media? Know of some cool shit? Have an opinion? We’re looking for people to contribute articles to our e-zine at http://loudthought.co.nz/verso. We would love to have a regular flow of informative and entertaining information about all things Arts, Media and Culture.

If you feel like you’ve got something to share, we will give you the audience- go ahead and email us.

Tell your mates

Spread the word for us. Find us on Myspace, Facebook and Twitter and then tell your cuzzies about us, or dont find us on those websites and just tell ‘em anyway.

Tell us what you want

If you have an idea for features or anything really, that could help your fellow artists- email us. Don’t be shy. What are your challenges as an artist? Tell us and we’ll do our best to provide the resources to help. Help us create the tools you need.

Our goals

We know you might already have 10 different profiles on 10 different websites. Awesome. We want you to use them all. Like I said earlier- exposure is an artists best friend (unless of course your art is self-fulfilling) We encourage you to use all the different resources available to you online.

We want you to use Loud Thought as the local connection between them all. Link your face-book, link your myspace, your twitter, amplifier, deviant art, flickr, cd-baby, Heck- link your own website. Everywhere. Use Loud Thought to create a no-bullshit online profile linking all your online media channels.

Stay tuned and keep it real.

Jaap.

Elizabeth Gilbert: A new way to think about creativity – Ted.com

Elizabeth Gilbert muses on the impossible things we expect from artists and geniuses — and shares the radical idea that, instead of the rare person “being” a genius, all of us “have” a genius. It’s a funny, personal and surprisingly moving talk.

Tim Kaiser creates experimental instruments

You need to respect someone who goes beyond learning an instrument to the realm of inventing one. Tim kaiser uses his seemingly vast depth of knowledge of electronics to get past the fact that he “Said all that I thought I could say” with traditional instruments.

The results are unique sounds from very cool devices. Holy shit do they look cool.

A song of Good- free online screening.

A song of Good

A song of Good

Watch A song of Good for free online-  you first need to RSVP at this facebook group http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=49105331924

In their own words:

YOU’LL HAVE 24 HOURS TO TUNE INTO A FREE SCREENING.

We welcome all our Facebook friends (NZ ONLY) to spread the word about this free online screening to their friends. Everyone can watch the film for free over the 24 hour period from Feb 16 – Feb 17.

Gregory King’s award winning feature film A SONG OF GOOD will be available for a free online viewing on Feb 16th. Yes thats right 100% Free!

Any kiwi over 18 can visit http://www.asongofgood.com and watch the film at the Official Website during a 24hr period.

A SONG OF GOOD is the story of 28-year-old Gary Cradle’s struggle for redemption after committing an horrific crime.

A SONG OF GOOD is a searing and moving story of a desperate young man with few resources and even fewer options.

The film stars Gareth Reeves, Danielle Cormack, Ian Mune, Matthew Sunderland. The film was invited to Rotterdam Film Festival for its world premiere and since then has gone onto acclaim at many others.

It also won Best Film (under $1m) at the NZ Film and TV Awards and Best Tech.

This cool experiment has been made available by the good folks at Headstrong, NZFC, Robbers Dog, Rialto Distribution, Vendetta Films and Cactus Lab. And of course the film gurus at Flicks.co.nz

The film will be released on DVD afterwards by Vendetta.

Let all your Facebook movie friends know about this screening. We’d love to see as many tune in as possible

What a great example of people testing the waters in this new era of online distribution.

New Music Strategies

New Music Strategies

New Music Strategies

In case you haven’t noticed, here at Loud Thought we’re pretty big on discussing the way the new media technologies are forcing artists to reconsider how they distribute their art.  Perhaps the most obviously affected are musicians. Their art form is particularly easy to duplicate and share quickly either across networks or on portable media. The question is, is this oft and loudly proclaimed problem not a problem at all but actually an incredible advantage?

The ability to share files across networks is causing grave concern for many who have traditionally made money from sales of their music. Despite many hundreds of thousands of dollars being poured into pursuing technological and legal avenues to stop it, file sharing seems here to stay -  legitimate or otherwise. In the past couple of months we’ve posted a few of our own thoughts on the matter and pointed you in the direction of other people who are thinking pretty hard about it.

It’s a complex topic with many threads but we have found one guy who seems to have got his head around this better than most. UK based Kiwi Andrew Dubber is an “Arts and Humanities Research Council Knowledge Transfer Fellow in Online Music and Radio Innovation and a Senior Lecturer in the Music Industries at Birmingham City University, UK. His analysis of the industry is clearly put and whether you agree with him or not his blog is an excellent primer for understanding the way the internet has changed music distribution. His blog, New Music Strategies, claims to be an attempt to:

…unpick and explain what’s going on in the online music environment – and from that, develop strategies to help independent musicians and music businesses cope and thrive in a changing media environment.

When visiting the site be sure to have a look through his archives and the often lively comments section. Here is an example of his thinking in his piece Should I be Worried About Piracy? I’ll quote at length just to give you a taste of his style:

1) Copying, as I’ve mentioned before, just happens online. You can’t legislate against it, prevent it by technical means nor force people to behave in ways that you would like them to. If you’re going to make recorded music, you have to be aware that you live in a world where this is what goes on. Refusing to accept that on principled grounds will only lead to stress and illness, and the unhelpful belief that every music consumer is a criminal.

2) The fluidity with which your music can pass from hand to hand is not an impediment to your success, but a technological advantage that you can leverage to your own ends. The overwhelming cry from the independent musician twenty years ago was ‘How can I just get my music out there?’ Problem solved. Now what are you going to do?

3) There are several phases to music that I characterise as Composition, Production, Distribution, Promotion and Consumption. All of those links in the chain are very important. I would suggest that if a technology is not cutting it for you in one part of the chain, it’s sensible to move it to another part of that same chain. That is to say, if you want mp3s to be the way that you profitably distribute music but the results are unsatisfying because of unauthorised copying, then redeploy mp3s to be the way that you profitably promote your music instead.

In addition to discussions on copyright and file sharing he also has some useful advice on how to make MySpace and other social networking applications work for you.

Are you or your band concerned about the illegitimate sharing of your music? Or do you encourage it? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

New Music Strategies

4 Minute Film School – Writing a Script

Youtube.com (though not the only media sharing site) really set the the bar and opened up an amazing concept that several years ago- none of us would have even dreamed of. I don’t need to say any more about Youtube as a concept, because it’s now a part of our culture.

What I’d really like to tell you about is people making use of youtube to publish their own series of videos or “Channels”. And in particular- a channel I’ve found called Indy Mogul.

This is what they say about themselves:

Indy Mogul is the network dedicated to DIY filmmakers and film lovers alike. From teaching cheap special effects to featuring the best short films, we’re all about film and you. Check out our website indymogul.com for our blog, forum, additional content, and to become part of the Indy Mogul online community.

Here is a sample of their channel, a video called the 4 Minute Film School.

My favourite quote:

“We’re gonna give you the most basic information that you need to know, to make a script that you and your friends can make a movie out of, because… Fuck Hollywood”

People using our greatest communication tool (the internet) and getting organised and collaborating in such a way that a small interest can become a life time source of pleasure or even a career for ANYONE (contrary to what people such as Andrew Keen believe) is nothing but spectacular for our culture.

10 Ways to Take Design Action and Make a Positive Difference in the World

As a follow on to our Power to the Poster article (which everyone seemed to love) – This article called 10 Ways to Take Design Action and Make a Positive Difference in the World by a great design resource called psdtuts.com shares some awesome ideas for doing some good with your design skills.

I know as well as anyone that artists have to pay the bills, but there is a lot to be said for using your skills to help contribute positively to our world (even if only for our egos)

Take some time to read the article and see if any of the ideas put forward pique your interest.

As always, feedback and discussion is welcomed.

Loud Thought Verso