Archive for June, 2012

The Rise Of The Holograms Continues …

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We’ve written before about the curious resurrection of deceased pop stars when we analysed the Tupac hologram – a high-tech spectacular which brought the late rapper back to life in shimmering 3D on a Coachella stage. It raised a good number of dissenting voices back then (one comment on our site blasted the whole shebang as ‘completely tasteless … death is one of the most personal, and painful things a person and their family can go through’), so chances are the news that more and more such holograms are to be unveiled is going to be similarly controversial.

The company behind the Tupac hologram has just signed up to create a revived Elvis Presley – or rather make that Elvis Presleys, as they are hoping to recreate The King at various stages of his career, from hip-shaking young gunslinger to burger-munching Vegas lounge lizard. It does seem like a logical starting point for a holographic revolution (Elvis has been commodified to the point of seeming like a product rather than a person anyway) but now it seems that others are getting the same idea – the estates of Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix and Marilyn Monroe have expressed interest in bringing back the dead too.

Aside from the issues that revolve around the ethics of all this – surely to become more and more of a heated talking point in future months – another question now has to be asked: what is the commercial viability of all this? Who will go and see these holographic acts? One can assume we’ll be looking at the more casual demographic – hardcore music fans are the ones who seek out exciting new acts, after all, so chances are they won’t be the ones shelling out to watch such circus acts. Dedicated followers of certain artists are also going to prove an unpredictable bunch – those who worship at the altar of Elvis may well find the presence of his digital ghost to be a slur on their hero.

Which leaves, as we said, the ‘casuals’ – those people who maybe check out one or two gigs a year and whose music collection consists of Grammy winners and Best Ofs. They’ll likely be the ones most willing to embrace the novelty of holographic performers … but purely as that, a novelty.

This really is about the experience rather than the music. Nothing wrong with that … but is this really something that can be relied on to improve the dire straits of a struggling industry, as many are claiming? 3D movies have been something of a boost to the box office, but no-one in their right mind would claim them to be the savior of cinema in these troubled, piracy-laden times. The same goes for these holograms. By all means let’s enjoy them as a fad (if you feel comfortable enough with the notion). But to pinpoint this as an ‘important’ development in an artistic sense would be a big mistake.


Indie Apps and the Future Of Tech

Morrissey, Insecurity … And Security

The Ongoing Saga Of Joel Tenenbaum

The BAMM Alternative Jubilee Soundtrack

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Readers in the UK – and those who keep an eye on current events upon that rainy island – will know that the ‘Diamond Jubilee’ is underway: a long weekend in which everyone pretends to celebrate Queen Elizabeth’s 60th year on the throne when infact they’re just happy to get a few days off work, whatever the reason.

Still – whatever one may think of the Royal Family (yep, we’re adopting a regal tone now), it’s hard to deny that the constant fawning media coverage can be a bit of a drag. Any aliens watching TV right now (not sure why they would be, but just play along) would think that everyone is Britain is constantly bowing in deference to the Royal overlords. This isn’t the case, however – as evidenced by our alternative Jubilee soundtrack from acts who take an … erm … less than complimentary approach to the monarchy.

God Save The Queen – The Sex Pistols

The original anti-Jubilee song. Ironically the Queen has aged better than all the remaining Sex Pistols combined.

The Queen Is Dead – The Smiths

Possibly their finest hour – the amazing opening track to the classic album of the same name.

Elizabeth My Dear – The Stone Roses

“Tear me apart and boil my bones / I’ll not rest ’til she’s lost her throne.” Not a fan, then, chaps?

Storm The Palace – Catatonia

The sort of rallying call that would have seen people beheaded not so long ago.

Insect Royalty – Primal Scream

Hold on – the monarchy are insects? But David Icke told us they were lizards. Which is it?

Indie Apps and the future of tech

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Something interesting is happening in the world of apps. Well, let’s chalk that one up as the understatement of the decade: lots and lots of interesting things are happening in the world of apps (including our upcoming app, which – we guarantee – will be unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. Oh, yeah – we’ve got a game-changer on our hands, folks).

Something that caught our beady eye in particular this week, however, was this story in the Sydney Morning Herald. An Australian man named Craig Barber has been causing a fuss with the success of his iPhone/iPad app ‘Car Audio Deck.’ It’s a beautifully simple (and socially responsible) idea – it provides a huge, no-frills interface so that people aren’t distracted when simultaneously switching their in-car music and driving. It has sold by the bucketload, losing first place in the app store to only ‘Angry Birds’ in certain territories.

So: man designs useful app, becomes a success story. Nothing overly unique about that, one might think. But what really resonates here is that Craig is not a designer by any stretch of the imagination – just a guy with an idea who wanted to put it into practice.

The article reveals:

Barber is one of a number of entrepreneurs who outsource the computer programming of their technology ideas online. His music app, Car Audio Deck, was funded $US6360 by backers on crowd-funding website and made by a Chinese woman he’s never met who bid $US2500 on outsourcing site to make his idea come to life.

Now – this is undeniably something very interesting, and a telltale sign of where certain parts of the app industry will be heading next. The original late-70s/early-80s computer boom required a certain degree of tech-savvy to succeed – Bill Gates may be a worldwide business behemoth now, but let’s not forget that he started out slaving away in his garage as a dedicated code-monkey. Similarly, the early days of the app store influx required a huge familiarity with programming to create something sellable.

Craig’s story is a new chapter in all this – proof that with the collaborative crowd-sourced business model that a lot of online outfits are offering, a budding entrepreneur can make spectacular dividends on an initial investment of a few thousand dollars. Not that a few thousand dollars is chump change, but when that amount of money allows an app to compete with multi-million selling global brands in an instant, all the clocks are definitely pointing to ‘watershed moment.’

What are we seeing here, then? In short – the beginning of a new indie aesthetic. Just as labels like Noise Pop and Rough Trade have developed business models which pay their own way, developers of smaller apps are now getting in on the act. Think of it like this – a large, corporately-funded app is the equivalent of something like Michael Jackson’s ‘Bad’ (million-dollar investment, superstar global smash) whereas a smaller indie app would be something like Fugazi’s ‘Repeater’ (toned-down, bare-bones, minimal production cost yet no less exciting for it). The best thing? There’s a place for both to co-exist.

How about you guys out there in Internet-land? Do you think you have the ingenuity – even if you don’t have the programming know-how – to become the next app wizard?