José James’ blend of black magic

31 07 2009

“My goal is to combine all the music I love: jazz, soul, hip hop, blues, funk into one thing. And everyday I’m getting closer to that sound and goal.”

— José James

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Video courtesy of [via LeFtOoO @ Brownswood]

Haque: the revolution is a nichepaper

29 07 2009

In his latest offering, The Nichepaper manifesto, Umair Haque hits the Media 2.0 nail on its head once again. Newspapers are out, nichepapers are in. Nichepapers offer knowledge and insight about one specific topic (cf. Michael Massing). Haque really cuts the mustard when he lists the 8 rules of nichepapers (reproduced here in abbreviated form):

Nichepapers strive to impart meaningful, lasting knowledge;
Nichepapers co-create knowledge through “commentage“, i.e. the art of curating comments to have a dialogue with the audience;
Nichepapers develop topics — instead of telling quickly-forgotten stories;
Nichepapers strive for scarcity: to develop a perspective, analytical skills, and storytelling capabilities that are inimitable by rivals;
Nichepapers develop topics of conversation, not individual stories, and let them co-evolve with readers;
Nichepapers provoke us to think; they challenge us; they educate us in ways that newspapers stopped doing long ago;
Nichepapers pitch topics and stories to the community, and let the best ones snowball;
Nichepapers aren’t about technology; they are tech-neutral, using whatever works best for a given task.

According to Haque:

The 21st century news organization is a portfolio of the different kinds of nichepapers. An Intelligencer for healthcare, a Pioneer for education, a Chronicle for finance and entertainment — that’s what the future of news looks like.

Okay, where can I sign up? In the meantime, why don’t we try to think of another name for this new(s) game? Nichepaper still has a Media 1.0 ring to it. Any suggestions?

UPDATE: Brilliant follow-up post by Alan Patrick – covering everything from bottleneck resources to HobbyMedia and Social Journalism. Wonderful stuff.

Brownswood Bubblers Vol. 4

28 07 2009

On 24 August 2009 Brownswood is set to release their annual “assortment of delightfully obscure ditties and underground heaters that have been clogging Gilles’ record bag and radio playlists of late.” Ladies and gentlemen, start your Google search engines. Here is the tracklist. Worldwide flavor.


1. Mayer Hawthorne – Maybe So Maybe No
2. Souleance – Mañana
3. yU – Fine
4. El Michels Affair – Shimmy Shimmy Ya
5. Lisa Papineau – Rene Thomas
6. The Misled Children & Odean Pope – Dadadun
7. Kafka – The Kafka Anthem
8. Oumou Sangaré – Iyo Djeli
9. Jam Da Silva – Dia Santo
10. Keaver & Brause – Awake
11. Sound Species – Can We Call It Love (with Ahu)
12. New Look – Everything
13. Floating Points – Peroration V Ft. Fatima
14. Lone – Sea Spray

ReCaptcha: digitizing books word by word

28 07 2009

Raise your hand if you are familiar with the work of Luis von Ahn, Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University. Luis is one the masterminds behind ‘Captcha‘, the program that protects websites from automated spamming. Captcha is nerdspeak for ‘Completely Automated Public Turing Test To Tell Computers and Humans Apart’ and looks like this:

Luis has recently come up with ReCaptcha, a two-flies-with-one-stone program that not only stops spam but also helps to archive human knowledge by digitizing “books, newspapers and old radio shows”. Oh, the brilliance.  Here’s how it works. ReCaptcha uses words that cannot be read correctly by Optical Character Recognition (OCR, the standard way of digitizing human knowledge) as Captchas.

Each new word that cannot be read correctly by OCR is given to a user in conjunction with another word for which the answer is already known. The user is then asked to read both words. If they solve the one for which the answer is known, the system assumes their answer is correct for the new one. The system then gives the new image to a number of other people to determine, with higher confidence, whether the original answer was correct.

To see how fast ReCaptcha works, about 20 years of the New York Times archive was digitized in only a few months. 20 years. Read more about it here or watch Luis do some splainin’. I don’t think I have ever been this excited about a computer application since Tetris came out.

[H/T: Judy Sims]

TriKa 3.0 race report: and the winners are

26 07 2009

Bruno Clerbout and Sofie Goos! Thanks everyone for making our third edition such a success. We would also like to thank our sponsors for their support, feedback and cooperation. Special shout out to Trees & David, Wendy & Jerre, Ellen & Pieter, Lieselotte & Jeroen, the Pinoy fam, Joris, Kurt, the ITM massive and the two anonymous reviewers. Much appreciated.

Men’s podium (L-R): 3. Pieter Hemeryck 1. Bruno ‘Bruce’ Clerbout 2. Geert Janssens

Bruce meets the press. I wasn’t able to shoot the women’s podium, alas. My apologies, ladies. Complete results, clickiddy-click here (overall) and here (waves).

More media coverage:

TriKa 3.0 race preview

23 07 2009

A grand total of 210 men, 24 women and 14 relay teams are registered to compete in TriKa’s third annual Olympic distance triathlon in Kapelle-op-den-Bos on Saturday July 25 (5:00pm). That adds up to 276 athletes, a new record. This is also the first year we’re adopting – by popular demand and thanks to some political goodwill – a non-drafting format.

Quick picture of the transition area and VIP area

Here are the race favorites:

1. Sofie Goos (currently Belgium’s top female triathlete, TriKa 2.0 winner)
2. Alexandra Tondeur (up and coming race talent)
3. Joke Coysman (consistent talent)

1. Bruno Clerbout (IM Hawaii qualified and local favorite)
2. Thierry Verbinnen (perennial top performer – gifted swimmer and cyclist) => injured
2. Hannes Cool (young gun, hungry and talented)
3. Luc Huntjes (former Dutch triathlon icon, now unretired again)

See you at the race!

A few of my favorite things in Melbourne

21 07 2009

Fitzroy and Collingwood are two suburbs in Melbourne, Australia. If you tire of the hustle & bustle of CBD, head on over to these neighborhoods for your fill of people watching, fine dining, designer shopping, street art, art galleries and wine bars. All very open-minded and soulful.

Brunswick Street is art with a capital A.

Brunswick Street Art

Throwback Flandrien jersey @ BSC

Dr Follicles barber shop on Gertrude Street

Fine dining @ Cavallero on Smith Street

Breakfast (Bircher muesli!) @ Marios – an institution in Melbourne

Wine tasting @ St Jude’s Cellars

Kelly Thompson exhibit @ Gorker Art gallery

Fitzroy swimming pool – a triathlete’s dream: a 10 lane, outdoor heated 50m pool, with inside bike racks, sauna and steam room. Open year round. Sigh.

Language and media session @ J21C

17 07 2009

A small but interested turnout at yesterday’s session on language and media at the Journalism in the 21st Century conference at the University of Melbourne (Law Building – fantastic venue for a conference). Nice diversity of papers, great discussion afterwards. Here are a few of my impressions.

1. Van Hout, Tom, Ghent University, Belgium
Quality Churnalism: Ethnographic Insights into Business News Production
Here is my presentation – adapted slightly at the last minute to fit the 15 minute presentation time slot.

2. Burger, Marcel, University of Lausanne, Switzerland
Conflicting Journalistic Styles and Textual Production: The Oral Negotiations Preceding the Inscription of Media

Marcel really impressed the audience with his data. Recurring question during the discussion afterwards: how in the world did you get this sort of access?

3. McKay, Susan & Fitzgerald, Richard, The University of Queensland, Australia
News Language in Contemporary Media Environments

How do broadcast news media target niche audiences? Answer: by converging production formats with consumption formats. The news studio has become a domestic space of consumption, complete with arm chairs, dinner tables and sofas – and the conversationalized register that these settings elicit.

4. Owen, Thomas, Massey University, New Zealand
Representations of Global Governance in Press Coverage of the Access to Medicines Debate

A corpus analytical study of a (quintessentially) globalized public discourse: access to medicines. Thomas is a very talented speaker and his data speak to issues of governance, agency, equality and nation-states.

Two observations:

  • 15 min. presentation time and 5 min of Q&A is really short. I’m much more comfortable in the traditional 20min-10min format.
  • I would like to blog about another presentation I saw, but honestly, it is beyond my descriptive abilities.


SBS Radio and @UOMmedia are providing excellent live coverage of the J21C conference.

IPrA panel on collaborative news writing

14 07 2009

Takeaways from the 11th Int’l Pragmatics Conference in Melbourne:

  • Don Bysouth’s research on ‘teasing’ by American service personnel in occupied Iraq and Afghanistan – oh, the boredom of warfare
  • Val Williams’ inclusive research – empowering people with learning disabilities: feel-good applied linguistics research
  • Conference clichés: “So when did you arrive?”, “That’s really interesting, thank you”, “So what part of the States are you from, Tom?”, “And how’s your PhD coming along?”
  • Daniel Perrin’s social skills and networking expertise – in a class of his own
From L-R: Aloxe Jetlag, Daniel 'I flew business and slept 8 hours on the plane' Perrin, Lut Baten, Val Williams

From L-R: A still jetlagged yours truly, Daniel 'I flew business and slept 8 hours' Perrin, Lut Baten and Val Williams @ the IPrA conference opening reception

  • Marcel Burger’s jaw-dropping data – turning the process of television journalism inside out
  • the thematic coherence of and audience response to our panel on news production – thank you

Collaborative news writing: A discursive perspective on news production
Convenors: Daniel Perrin, Ellen Van Praet & Tom Van Hout

Panel line-up

  • Daniel Perrin – “Let the pictures do the talking” – Investigating TV journalists’ collaborative text production strategies
  • Tom Van Hout & Ellen Van Praet Buy or sell? The role of consumption and authorship in financial news writing
  • Ellen Van Praet & Tom Van Hout – Competence on display: negotiating status during editorial meetings
  • Marcel Burger – Dealing with conflicting journalistic styles to achieve texts: oral negotiation of written media discourse
  • Inés Olza – The role of metaphor in news production: Political metaphors in “preformulated” media texts
  • Jasper Vandenberghe – New Spanish conquistadores? Newspaper articles and press releases on Spanish foreign investments in Argentina.

The indexicality of fake German in Brüno

13 07 2009

The ‘gloriously provocative’ [H/T: Xan Brooks] Brüno is remarkable in at least three ways. First, the film is at times hand-over-mouth appalling yet lavatorially hilarious. Say what you want about Sacha Baron Cohen (infantile, neurotic, bourgeois), but the man has balls (no pun intended). Hasidic hot pants in Jerusalem, anyone?

Second, while some of the scenes were clearly staged, others (like the grande finale) apparently were not. I bow humbly before the producers for gaining access to all those political figures, subcultures and social settings. I also found it quite revealing to learn how Baron Cohen dupes his interviewees. That takes time, practice and preparation. And ignorance, bigotry and prejudice too. Lots of it.

Third, I credit Baron-Cohen’s linguistic performance in Brüno for extending the indexical range of mock German. This is more difficult than it sounds. I normally associate a fake German accent with dispassion, authority and expertise (just ask David Cameron, Herr Flick ‘from ze Gestapo’, Frau Farbissina). Baron Cohen’s umlaut-friendly performance (“vassup?”) in Brüno adds an effeminate, camp flamboyance to fake German.

Put more technically, by endoginizing a “gay electro-Austrian-Germanic” figure of personhood, Baron Cohen makes Brüno socially performable and (instantly) recognizable as an aggressively homosexual Viennese fashionista. Similar processes of enregisterment are brilliantly described in Asif Agha‘s work.

Sacha Baron Cohen as Bruno. Photograph: Chris Pizzello/AP (The Guardian)

Sacha Baron Cohen as Bruno. Photograph: Chris Pizzello/AP (The Guardian)