If we can’t rely on what they say to get a clear sense of how Facebook et al see themselves and the way they are reshaping the world, then what clues do we have? The biggest and most concrete are found not in any online platform, but in their buildings.
Even though the technologies are new, the horror and despair of the current informational carnage are not unprecedented. Since the beginning of the Internet, the unintended consequences of its arrival have been routinely compared to the fallout from the invention of the printing press. The comparison has always been problematic. A more precise historical analogy—though itself as incomplete as any historical analogy—can be found in the pamphlet culture of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in England.
I’ve termed it ‘metric fixation’. The key components of metric fixation are the belief that it is possible – and desirable – to replace professional judgment (acquired through personal experience and talent) with numerical indicators of comparative performance based upon standardised data (metrics); and that the best way to motivate people within these organisations is by attaching rewards and penalties to their measured performance.
Where would British theatre be without him? Quite possibly in a more interesting place. Of course, we are blessed to have all those wonderful plays, but the success of Shakespeare has created a gold standard by which all British theatre is calibrated. He set us on a path of literary theatre that still dominates today. A little less Shakespeare production might allow a bit more room for new plays and the devised, visual and physical work that often gets too little space on our stages.
“One thread to keep in mind again is songwriters used to be able to rely on a steady stream of sheet music sales, and then it was album sales, and then it was download sales. As those have dried up, there is more interest by songwriters to make sure that the value of what’s contributed to the services is captured in the remaining rights that are invoked.”
Amazon, Netflix and multiple Hollywood studios (including Disney, Fox, Sony, Universal and Warner Bros.) have sued SET Broadcast over allegations its SET TV service is used expressly for piracy. While there is a dedicated set-top box, the centerpiece is a $20 per month subscription service that offers access to over 500 live TV channels and “thousands” of on-demand shows, including Netflix shows and movies that are still officially limited to theaters.
“In the 1660s, the French philosopher Blaise Pascal speculated, ‘the sole cause of man’s unhappiness is that he does not know how to stay quietly in his room.’ Pascal surely knew it was harder than it sounds. But in modern times, the problem seems to have gotten exponentially worse.” What’s more, writes professor Matthew Jordan, “legislating against noisemakers rarely satisfied our growing desire for quietness, so products and technologies emerged to meet the demand of increasingly sensitive consumers.”
With the Avengers movies, “the studio has breathed lucrative new life into its decades-old comic-book properties, and built a ravenous fan base for each new character it introduces at the multiplex. Now Marvel says it wants to clear the table it has spent the last 10 years arranging and make way for something new. … Audiences are about to find out what finality looks like for a motion-picture money-minting machine: Will the story actually come to a conclusion? Will characters die, and will actors leave the series?”
It’s the first time since 1998 for a mass shift to the public domain of material protected under copyright. It’s also the beginning of a new annual tradition: For several decades from 2019 onward, each New Year’s Day will unleash a full year’s worth of works published 95 years earlier.
“Newish LA Weekly editor Darrick Rainey and publisher Brian Calle run what is perhaps the most on-edge paper at this moment in American journalism. In December of last year, Calle – formerly the head of the libertarian op-ed pages for the Orange County Register – and a group of investors under the name Semanal Media bought the august alt-weekly, then axed 9 of 13 staff writers and editors … The layoffs prompted a furious counterattack by former staffers and freelancers, who alleged Calle heads a conservative conspiracy to turn the historically progressive LA Weekly into an alt-right rag.”
“A deeply layered, rigorously controlled formal structure undermined by a strange embarrassing whimsy occurs in almost every painting. While accepted in outlier artists like James Castle, or (more aptly for the 1930s) like Henri Rousseau, it is a quality that mainstream art has tended to eschew, until recently. … This contradictory dynamic of wacky sincerity is recognizable as something that the Midwest surreptitiously instills. … On the one hand, complex formalism conveys gravity, but then is betrayed by an inability to resist slipping a banana peel underfoot.”
“Especially on Caruso’s breakthrough records, the sound is scratchy, wiry and wobbly. The same holds true for early recordings of Nellie Melba, Luisa Tetrazzini and other luminaries of that era. While there are entrancing hints of astonishing voices, it’s hard to tell what they were really like. If only we could record a singer today on the equipment used back then and compare the playbacks to modern recordings.” So that’s what Piotr Beczala and Susanna Phillips did. (includes sound clips)
The Alphabet (Google) subsidiary “says it removed 8.3m videos for breaching its community guidelines between October and December last year as it tries to address criticism of violent and offensive content on its site … amid growing complaints about its perceived inability to tackle extremist and abusive content.”
“[Sierra] Boggess, who got her start as Ariel in Broadway’s The Little Mermaid in 2007 before joining the casts of Phantom of the Opera and School of Rock, [had been cast as] Maria in a Royal Albert Hall concert performance of West Side Story.” The ensuing controversy changed her mind.
“The piece spurring the conversation [at Pacific Northwest Ballet] is RAkU, created in 2011 by Ukranian-born Yuri Possokhov, who danced with the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow before becoming the San Francisco Ballet’s resident choreographer. The subject matter is the true story of the Buddhist Golden Pavilion in Kyoto, Japan, which was burned down in 1950 by a mentally disturbed monk.”
“As conversations about bullying heat up throughout the country, with the role of social media and the effects on adolescent mental health emerging as related concerns, there’s no better time to consider what the dance world can do to help male students of all ages feel safe and accepted.” Ryan P. Casey does some considering.
He began his career at the Boston Phoenix, went on to the San Francisco Examiner (1989-2002; he left as a result of the merger with the Chronicle), and spent seven tumultuous years (2003-2009) at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “during which he developed both a national reputation for arts criticism and more than a few foes in the St. Louis art world.”
Julie Fuchs says that the management of the Hamburg State Opera has informed her that she cannot perform the role of Pamina in this spring’s production of Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte because “the artistic integrity of the production cannot be maintained if the soprano singing Pamina is four months pregnant.” Management has replied that German law expressly forbids employment of a pregnant woman in any situation that could harm her or her fetus.
“The priceless tome was brought to an Alençon (Orne, Normandy) auctioneer specialising in the sale of religious objects, by an anonymous owner several months ago. It was discovered to have been a collection of texts written in the scriptorium of the Mont-Saint-Michel abbey, and includes Latin writing from Saint-Aubert, Bishop of Avranches, the founder of the Mont-Saint-Michel abbey; as well as poems, geographical notes, and music scores.” The government, which argues that it is the rightful owner of the manuscript, is trying to halt the sale.
“The sprawling 1.5-million-square-foot National Kaohsiung Center for the Arts, designed by Dutch firm Mecanoo Architects, was recently completed in the southern port city of Kaohsiung … Slated for an October opening, the futuristic-looking mega space, called ‘Weiwuying’ for short, incorporates five performing spaces – including a 2,260-seat opera house, 2,000-seat concert hall (boasting a 9,085-pipe organ) and a 470-seat recital hall.”
Monday Recommendation: McNeely & The Frankfurtians
Jim McNeely, The Frankfurt Radio Big Band, Barefoot Dances and Other Visions (Planet Arts)
McNeely fortifies his position in the upper echelon of jazz arrangers in this set of new pieces for … read more
AJBlog: RiffTides Published 2018-04-23
Brio and Blossom
This week, the Cassatt String Quartet is having its annual Cassatt in the Basin residency, through which they bring the abiding principles of chamber music – effective communication, responsibility to the group, mutual respect, and intimate musical expression … read more
AJBlog: Infinite Curves Published 2018-04-23
When albums come out of the mailbox in batches of five, six, eight a day – or more – it is possible to overlook, set aside or misplace some that are worthy of mention. … read more
AJBlog: RiffTides Published 2018-04-22
Amy Schumer’s “I Feel Pretty” movie suggests that the only thing holding back regular-looking women is their belief that looking regular holds them back at all. That attitude puts the onus on individual women to improve their self-esteem instead of criticizing societal beauty standards writ large. The reality is that expectations for female appearances have never been higher. It’s just become taboo to admit that.
If the Pulitzer people had only bitten the bullet and done the equivalent of what the Nobel committee did for Bob Dylan and rock lyrics when they said, “You know what? We’re going to get dissed and ridiculed for even putting Dylan on the same level as John Steinbeck, but what the heck. Let’s just do it and take the flak.” Who knows what the dividend would have been for wider society?
Writing, like anything – from athletics to nuclear physics – depends on a basic degree of talent, which can be cultivated through training. So let’s stop pretending that devoting a year or two to studying writing in the company of others is anything other than a valid step towards a literary career.
Without ever intending it, experienced leaders often allow what they know to limit what they can imagine going forward; their knowledge can actually get in the way of innovation. Which is why, to summon the spirit of Proust, it’s so important for leaders to see their company and industry with fresh eyes — which means looking at their work in new ways. Art, it turns out, can be an important tool to change how leaders see their work.
In a groundbreaking study of more than two million books published in North America between 2002 and 2012, scholars found that books by women authors are priced 45% less than those of their male counterparts. The researchers, sociologist Dana Beth Weinberg and mathematician Adam Kapelner, both from Queens College-CUNY, say there is a lot more to the story than can be gleaned from this price gap alone.