stevelawson.net

Steve's Blog: Solo Bass & Beyond



More new music – Youtube video of a brand new tune.

April 12th, 2009 · Comments Off on More new music – Youtube video of a brand new tune.

photo of the bed of the thames, taken from a pothole in a boat near Tower BridgeAfter the new tune I posted on Audioboo a few days ago, I’ve got the bug for uploading new tunes. Hopefully it’ll finally kick me into action to make some decisions about the kind of record (or whatever passes for a ‘record’ these days 🙂 ) I want to make.
[Read more →]

Tags: bass ideas · Gig stuff · looping · Music News · Musing on Music

Nokia Open Lab Pt 2 – the geo-location workshop.

September 17th, 2008 · Comments Off on Nokia Open Lab Pt 2 – the geo-location workshop.

Steve Lawson and Phil Campbell at Nokia Open Lab, by http://www.flickr.com/photos/ekaiSo the format of the Friday was intro, followed by four sessions –

  • Join the Community.
  • Join the Journey
  • Join the Fun
  • Join and Collaborate.

Each session had a ‘facilitator’ who did a lil’ intro spiel and the set-up to the group time. I’m slightly embarrassed to say that I’ve no idea how the first session went, as I slept straight through it! I’d set my alarm early, but after getting to bed late the night before, struggling to get to sleep even then, I managed to miss it. The last 10 minutes of the discussion were interesting, but I can’t really comment further.

So the first full session I was in was Join the Journey – thinking about location-based services, concepts and uses. What was most interesting was how few people in this group of early adopting tech-pimped-out uber-geeks were regularly using geo-services other than geo-tagging flickr photos and using SatNav to not get lost (as one person commented, ours is the last generation that will ever get lost – more on that in a bit…)

This was the first point at which the blue-sky techno-utopians and the more cautious person-centred practo-geeks divided – the utopians were talking about the possibility of RFIDing everything from you fridge to your car keys, embedding chips, tracking your kids – loads of stuff that sounded like a sci-fi writer in the late 60s describing the year 2001. Some of it clearly already happening.

On the flip side, you had every Brit there freaking out at the civil liberties implications of all this, given that we’re already the most surveilled nation on earth, and wondering about how effective measures to limit access to the tracking data could be.

It was also the first point at which I threw in the idea that maybe removing trouble, problems, obstacles and the like from the mundane might not be a good thing. I slightly facetiously said ‘but what about all the good serendipitous stuff that can happen when you lose your keys?’ or words to that effect. It was a serious point, but I didn’t really follow it up til Adam Greenfield’s excellent session the next day.

So some cool discussion, some great ideas that got lost in the mass of un-filtered un-sorted suggestions, and for me the first chance to get a handle on where people were coming from… I don’t think I knew anyone in my group at this point, so was slightly unsure how to pitch my usual mixture of ‘things that are possible useful to the discussion’ and ‘things that are clearly random bollocks but might be either funny or illuminating in their absurdity… or perhaps best ignored’.

So one thing that we didn’t get onto was the use of Geo-locational services for musicians. The uses are HUGE. Most of them musicians I know have already got SatNavs – getting lost on the way to a gig is too costly a mistake for them to miss the chance to avoid it.

But the ability to map a tour, plot any media captured on it onto it, group crowd-sourced flickr-photos by location and date, and even to network a street team by geo-tagged data are the stuff that every band in the world should be jumping on. It’s the kind of stuff that a company like Nokia ought to be all over, given the branding potential, and the way they can produce THE ubiquitous device for such a service. (more on this in an N95 for musicians review, coming soon!) Some of the stuff that came up in the group was really inspirational with regard to seeing the possibilities of all this. For some of what’s possible, and what’s coming, check out Sportstracker and Nokiavine.

Some bands are already using it, like the NIN stunt with the geo-cached tickets.

Location based services don’t appear to be the kind of thing that in and of themselves will make millions for anyone beyond TomTom and Garmin. But they are things that musicians and media producers can use to filter their own or their audiences content by location, and that can make it more interesting, more relevant and more sexy. All fine qualities.

Sessions 3 and 4 coming soon…

Tags: Geek · New Music Strategies · tips for musicians

Nokia Open Lab 08. The write-up. part 1

September 15th, 2008 · Comments Off on Nokia Open Lab 08. The write-up. part 1

Nokia Open Lab - photo by http://www.flickr.com/photos/ekaiI’ve just spent 3 days geeking out in Helsinki, at the Nokia Open Lab 08. The idea was to bring together 40 social media/mobile tech/blogging geeks in Helsinki for a series of workshops, discussions, talks and brainy mash-ups. The attendees were from all kinds of backgrounds, from corporate bloggers writing about tech stuff or financial markets, to sub-cultural social media conduits, using mobile technology to bring communities together and subvert standard media channels.

The format was really interesting, in that we were kind of thrown together with very little context, and left to work out what people’s areas of expertise were based on what they were willing/pushy enough to say in each of the discussions. So those of us who are extroverts naturally spoke at greater length than our respective knowledge bases necessarily warranted. Still, much value came out of the discussions, and a lot of people seem to have been fired up to use social media applications that they’d signed up for months ago but never really found a use for.

From Nokia’s side, they got

  • a massive amount of internal and external marketing footage from the conference
  • a load of online content bigging up their products
  • some quality, focussed expert product and service feedback
  • a whole bunch of enthusiastic interaction with some of their technology’s most progressive early adopters.

I’ll hopefully write up a lot of what I thought about the conference, but I think I’ll actually start at the end, with what the whole thing meant for musicians:

It was really interesting to be brought in by a mega transnational corporation to discuss mobile technology, given that my focus is largely empowering creatives to create without recourse to the corporate world – I’m not a fan of ad-sponsored music promotion streams and clearly not into the big record label model of yore. So in a sense there was some bravery in Nokia inviting people like me in without any kind of NDA/Contractual obligation not to slam their very existence (like anyone would really give a shit if I did… but anyway…).

As a pragmatist, I liked being in a place where for a weekend, I could largely think about ‘the best we can do within this kind of corporate framework’ – what does a company like Nokia have to offer the world of creativity and progressive political interaction by way of infrastructure and support? How can we as creatives use this technology, and perhaps even work with Nokia, in promoting a culture of un-fettered art. What can they do to help?

In approaching it from that angle, there were quite a few frustrations – the biggest being the session on the ‘future of entertainment’ – the scene was set by Anne Toole, talking from her background as a very experienced ‘old media’ writer (TV/film), now moved into the games industry. She talked a lot about her notion of what ‘film’ is – I think the idea was to get us thinking conceptually about the future of ‘The Industry’ in whatever our group were going to be discussing.

However, for me, the start point would have been the antithesis of what she was saying – I would have blown the doors off any attempt to define ‘film’ beyond it being ‘a series of pictures projected as a fast enough rate as to give the appearance of motion’, and then got people to think about the deep stuff of how we can make the world of film – both that which is designed to ‘entertain’ but also the information/pure art end of the spectrum – more interesting, more engaging, more productive, more subversive, more enjoyable, through social media and mobile technology.

But the big problem wasn’t that I disagreed with what I thought she was saying, it’s that she had no way of knowing I was thinking that and therefor couldn’t clarify whether or not I’d got completely the wrong end of the stick. So problem #1 was the format of the ‘presentation’ part, not the content (disagreement is vital to progressive discussion, but it has to be open and ‘real time’…)

Problem #2 was the way we were divided up. There were four groups – music, film, games and ‘me media’ (me media being cleverly named, given Nokia’s latest ad campaign… 😉 ) – and we were arbitrarily assigned to them. We could have swapped. I could’ve just wandered over to the music camp, but I didn’t. I was stuck in the games group. I don’t think it’s any surprise to anyone that I effing hate games. Actually no, not games, I hate Games. I play games all the time – twitter, facebook, myspace, who’s going to fill the dishwasher. All fun, exciting, enjoyable games. I just couldn’t give a shit about the Games Industry.

I am however innately curious, and fairly good at conceptual abstraction, so we managed to have a cool discussion about games, gaming, and game principles abstracted from game culture. But still, there was a discussion about the future of the music industry and its relationship with social media/mob-tech, and I WASN’T IN IT.

W. T. F?

Yup, my fault for not getting up and moving. But their fault for not facilitating a coming together of people with expertise in the area. I would have LOVED to bang heads with the guys from the Nokia music store (not launched yet), to chat with people who see music as part of the ‘entertainment industry’, to people who favour ad-revenue models for ‘feels like free’ music. I’ve got about 150,000 words of stuff written on the subject 🙂

And we did have those conversations – that was the strength of the conference. As with all conferences, the conversations after the sessions were the main course. the sessions were largely high-functioning ice-breakers. The magic of Nokia Open Lab 08 started at 3pm on Saturday after the closing speech.

So post #2 will start to look at what we covered in the rest of the sessions, and where we go from here. Or maybe that’ll be post #3. Or #4… 😉

Tags: Geek · Musing on Music · New Music Strategies · tips for musicians

Video, Greenbelt, blogging and being yourself

September 2nd, 2008 · Comments Off on Video, Greenbelt, blogging and being yourself

OK, I promised a greenbelt round-up, and that’s still on the way, but first (this is backwards, I know) some thoughts on how video worked for us at Greenbelt. By ‘us’, I mean the social media monkeys that were trying to get Greenbelt’s web-presence away from just being a static website into something a little more granular, diffuse, community based and embeddable as conversation-starters…

Greenbelters have been using Flickr in a co-ordinated way for years – there are over 15,000 photos tagged at Greenbelt2006, Greenbelt2007 or Greenbelt2008! But the festival presence hadn’t really gone beyond that. So I, along with JennyBee, James Stewart, Lobelia and Mike Radcliffe set about building a video presence for the festival.

Jenny was already involved in a more structured, formal process of collecting video interviews and whatnot for promotional usage, but we were all looking for a much more guerilla feel to our social media footage: lots of chatting to camera, unedited interviews, fun stuff from around the site. And, crucially, we wanted a fair bit of it to be watchable live.

After about a month of trying, we finally found a contact at WomWorld – a Nokia promo blog, who would lend us the hardware we needed to do the project – namely, 4 Nokia N82s and one Nokia N95. Yay for Nokia and their lovely bloggers! It all happened so late in the day that the phones were sent direct to the festival site, and we had very little time to trail what we were doing, or to get conversant with everything that the phones could do. Still, we’ve managed, so far, to rack up well over 8000 views on the Greenbelt Group at Qik.com and Mike opted to record video at higher quality and post it to his YouTube Channel – he produced some great video.

Here’s my Qik Channel – the first 50 vids on here are from the festival:

So I did all the interviews you’ve seen embedded here over the last 10 days, and a whole load more footage, had some great feedback to it all, and it’s already cropped up being embedded and linked to on a range of sites, providing a talking point for those who were and those who weren’t at the festival.

It was a fantastic validation of two things – firstly, the importance of embeddable, linkable social media for starting conversations about any event. And secondly, the importance of video in getting the ‘feel‘ of any event across. blogging, texting, tweeting, even audio recordings go some way to creating a ‘buzz’, but nothing has the impact that video has… if Greenbelt are bright, they’ll get behind this nexy year, resource it, promote it, and they could have a virtual attendance bigger than that actual attendance…

I’ve just written a post about the honesty of video for Creative-Choices.co.uk, and started a discussion about it at Phreadz. Sadly you can’t embed video on the Creative Choices blog, but here’s the Phreadz conversation about it –

The question at the end of the Creative Choices blog is ‘how is video working for you?’ – feel free to drop by over there and answer it

Tags: Geek · Managing Information Streams · Random Catchup

Interview with Jon Birch of Asbojesus…

August 22nd, 2008 · Comments Off on Interview with Jon Birch of Asbojesus…

Here’s a lil’ interview with the marvellous and lovely Jon Birch of Asbojesus.wordpress.com – he’s fab, his blog’s fab, and the interview’s pretty cool too…

Tags: Geek · Rant - Politics, Spirituality, etc.

What Is Greenbelt?

August 22nd, 2008 · Comments Off on What Is Greenbelt?

Here’s my attempt to answer the question, ‘What Is Greenbelt?’, for those of you that have been wondering. 🙂

Tags: Geek · Random Catchup

A new blog post and another QIK vid…

August 22nd, 2008 · Comments Off on A new blog post and another QIK vid…

It’s only friday afternoon, the Greenbelt site isn’t even open yet, and I’m already working like crazy.

I’ve been posting loads of videos at www.qik.com/solobasssteve (damn, I’m going to HAVE to get myself a Nokia N95 after I give this trial one back. It’s WAY to useful!) and have just written another post for Creative Choices, entitled Creative Copying – have a read, and feel free to comment there.

If you follow my twitter feed, whenever a link appears that says I’m Qiking, you can log in and chat with me on the live stream… please drop in and say hi!

Here’s another qik post from this morning –

Tags: Geek · Random Catchup