stephen fry on leaving the grid

A fine post by British actor/comedian Stephen Fry on "going off the grid" in the Facebook era deserves a moment of your time. This is a man who has paid some dues to say "get off my lawn" -- he has a million Twitter ex-followers. He also uses Linux Ubuntu as his desktop OS, per Wikipedia, so he's taking some steps towards that unwired wired state he is describing. His intended audience is "young people" but everyone should be thinking about this.

But first, what would motivate any young person today to pull the plug?

Well maybe they should consider this for a moment. Who most wants you to stay on the grid? The advertisers. Your boss. Human Resources. The advertisers. Your parents (irony of ironies – once they distrusted it, now they need to tag you electronically, share your Facebook photos and message you to death). The advertisers. The government. Your local authority. Your school. Advertisers.

Well, if you’re young and have an ounce of pride, doesn’t that list say it all? So fuck you, I’m Going Off The Grid.

More stating the obvious but fun to read:

I and millions of other early ‘netizens’ as we embarrassingly called ourselves, joined an online world that seemed to offer an alternative human space, to welcome in a friendly way (the word netiquette was used) all kinds of people with all kinds of views. We were outside the world of power and control. Politicians, advertisers, broadcasters, media moguls, corporates and journalists had absolutely zero understanding of the net and zero belief that it mattered. So we felt like an alternative culture; we were outsiders.

Those very politicians, advertisers, media moguls, corporates and journalists who thought the internet a passing fad have moved in and grabbed the land. They have all the reach, scope, power and ‘social bandwidth’ there is. Everyone else is squeezed out — given little hutches, plastic megaphones and a pretence of autonomy and connectivity. No wonder so many have become so rude, resentful, threatening and unkind.

"Toy Piano"

"Toy Piano" [mp3 removed -- please listen on Bandcamp]

See notes to "Cumulative Beats," below. Other ingredients used here are some riffs composed in Mulab, a sequencer program I've been enjoying (while I still have Windows).

Am thinking of this song is an unofficial tribute to Charles Ives -- no, really.

"Cumulative Beats"

"Cumulative Beats" [mp3 removed -- a revised version is on Bandcamp]

The white noise leaking all over this is a feature. Lo-fi beats are triggered in Eurorack digital modules (e.g., ADDAC 111 wav player, Qu-Bit Nebulae), then assembled in Ableton. In this tune and "Toy Piano," am using Ableton's audio-clip-to-MIDI conversion programs to play around with tunes that are already recorded (and the hardware settings would be a pain to duplicate). Ultimately MIDI is used twice, once to trigger the hardware, once to edit notes in the resulting recording. Fun!