Sunday, February 24, 2008

Louden Up Now!

I have decided to write about !!!'s album, Louden Up Now, for my 20-30 page Popular Music & Communication paper. Intimidating? Yes, a bit... but I'm up for the challenge.

This album will be a good one to dig into because, as Professor Andrew Goodwin would say, it has a lot of "purchase." Musically, the album combines punk, disco/funk with the rave mentality of the late 80s and 90s. It speaks equally about drugs and politics (not in George's favor, go figure). It encourages you to dance, it encourages you to scream. It will be interesting to see what else I get out of it.

Here is the music video for the single "Hello? Is this thing on?" off of Louden Up Now:

Oh yeah, and the band's name, !!!, can be pronounced by repeating anything three times. Chk Chk Chk is the most popular, but bam bam bam or uh uh uh would work, too.

Ciao Ciao Ciao

Brewster Kahle takes us way back with the Internet Archive

One Lap Top Per Brewster
Originally uploaded by luluisforlovers

Brewster Kahle, the founder and digital librarian at the non-profit Internet Archive, stopped by USF to speak with the Davies students and friends last Thursday. Kahle also helps direct the Open Content Alliance, a collaborative effort among a group of cultural, technology, nonprofit, and governmental organizations from around the world that will help build a permanent archive of multilingual digitized text and multimedia content.

Kahle noted that, with Web 2.0, there is a desire to share information that we need to explore now because "we could lost it really quite quickly," he said.

"Knowledge available to everyone is a possibility," said Kahle, " but the political will to live in an open environment is missing from society." Kahle believes in "Universal Access to all knowledge" -- free information to all. "Free as in beer, free as in speech," he said. Kahle works towards this end by focusing on archiving texts, audio, moving images, and software on the web. "We live in an unexamined world," he said.

One of his primary projects is digitizing texts so they can be accessed and easily reprinted. So far he has up to 300,000 books in eight collections. Many of these digitized books are printed out for only $1 a book by the Book Mobile, a library on wheels. He is setting his sights on digitizing the Library of Congress, which houses 26,000,000 unique texts.

The Internet Archive is also home to recordings of 40,000 concerts and 2,500 bands that range from The Grateful Dead to chamber music and 55,000 moving images in 100 collections. These videos tend to be "those films that they showed you in junior high when you had a substitute teacher," Kahle said. This would include things like drive-in movie ads and tobacco industry videos. "It's an influential medium that almost always goes unexamined," he said. Additionally, the site has been recording television 24 hours a day for the last eight years.

One of the most interesting and popular projects the Internet Archive has done is the "Wayback Machine," which takes a snapshot of every page on the internet (with some exceptions) every two months. It has been operating since 1996 and "it's getting pretty big, " said Kahle. It now houses 2 PB of stuff.

Should the Internet be public or private? Open or proprietary?

"How we communicate across generations is in our artifacts. We are in our most interesting phase in the battle over the internet. It's got to be public or we will perish," Kahle said. "Universal access can be one of the greatest achievements; our generation's gift. All you need is curiosity."

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Today for lunch, my girlfriend and I visited one of our favorite places on Clement Street.

Genki is best known for it's wide selection of sweet and savory crepes (nutella, anyone?), but today I tried their "egg puffs".

Mmm! Puffy.

The egg puffs have the texture of a fortune cookie/overcooked crepe on the outside -- crunchy, crispy-- but then a soft, airy, eggy inside -- like a popover.

Genki has a special mold for their egg puffs, which come in flavors like vanilla (the one I got), chocolate, green tea, honeydew, cantaloupe, strawberry, and more.

Genki also sells smoothies and fresh-squeezed juices (I usually get watermelon) and a whole gamut of interesting Japanese foods (the candies are fun additions to that candy dish). If you're craving something unusual, try this great spot.

Our Trip to the San Francisco Public Library

I arrived at the San Francisco Public Library a bit early for our class with the intention of doing a bit of quiet reading beforehand -- maybe grab a cup of hot chocolate at the cafe downstairs. I ran into Lizzy B (that would be my ultra cool version of the name Elizabeth Bartlett) and we took off to find a niche that wasn't so heavily occupied. We ended up in the teen reading section:

We won't tell if you don't?

Eventually we made our way back to the lower level of the library, where Sarah Houghton-Jan, the Senior Librarian for Digital Futures at the San Jose Public Library, gave a lecture about the future of libraries -- "Library 2.0." Lo and behold, we ran into the other librarian of the future, Ivan Chew. I guess these guys run in packs!

This is Sarah, the "Librarian in Black". Isn't she lovely? I thought her dress was gorgeous. Her lecture wasn't bad either!

One of the things Sarah discussed was issues with internet filtering, and her belief that there should be "all information for all." She also mentioned how libraries are now rethinking things like library cards, signage, checkout, and catalog access. Sarah said that by moving into the realm of "Library 2.0" -- the use of tagging, social labeling, decentralized data creation, and social organization of data -- we are experiencing the "democratization of information and expertise." This librarian in black urges us to embrace this change.

Sarah can be reached at or on her AIM screen name, LibrarianinBlack.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Here's a snapshot of what I'm listening to these days:

If you haven't already, check out It's like a personalized radio station.

L.A.-based band, Dengue Fever, creates a crazy blend of California surf rock and Cambodian 60s pop music. They just released their third album, Venus On Earth.

Last weekend I interviewed Zac Holtzman, the guitarist/vocalist for Dengue Fever. The band was in town for the San Francisco Indie Film Festival screening of their film "Sleepwalking Through the Mekong", an inspiring documentary about their musical tour through Cambodia. In addition to playing a few lively shows in Phnom Penh, the the band also recorded music with local musicians and visited schools to help teach children learning about music. "We had a stamp from the king that enabled us to go anywhere," Holtzman said.

Dengue Fever will be coming back to San Francisco to play at The Independent on April 18th (tickets go on sale this Sunday at 10 a.m., so get 'em while you can!).

Friday, February 15, 2008

Chew on this!

Ivan Chew, the self-titled "liblogarian", came to visit USF last Thursday. He has been blogging since 2004 and now runs no less than nine blogs, which focus on topics ranging from book reviews to documenting the changing face of his hometown Singapore to creating mash-up music videos with an oceanic theme.

"It's not the blogs that matter, it's the blogger that matters," Chew said, reminding us to blog with passion and authority about what we like as well as what we know.

Meet my Davies Class.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Today I'm very excited because "The Mushroom King", Todd Spanier, has agreed to join me for an episode of the How to Homestead project on foraging for mushrooms! Todd is locally famous with restaurants like Chez Panisse and for doing interesting multiple-course meals (and even the dessert features mushrooms). We are still discussing the logistics of the shoot at the moment, but we will probably go foraging somewhere on the Peninsula and then prepare a meal with our findings. Fungilicious! Check out more of Todd's work at his site
Wow! 2005 was a good year. Let's fastforward.