Let's stop thinking and start wanking

Enough of this. Can we all stop using the 'adjective' "wanky"? I'm all for the evolution of language and all that, and actioning things sounds like a great laugh, but there's a line between organically refining our communications, and pointless bandwagoning*. Language as I see it has a dual purpose - information, and social cohesion, these haven't changed since prehistory.

Information: "Oh no, a tiger! Look out!"

Social Cohesion: "Hey, do you remember that tiger? That was so rad, man."

Both are wholly legitimate. The species survives through awareness of the environment, and successful mating and group action. Therefore, I'd like to suggest that language 'evolves' when it a) becomes better able to describe the subject (external, internal, real or metaphysical - and one can see this is equally applicable in a creative sense), or b) better facilitates social cohesion by helping two people think in the same way, or feel some sort of empathy.

Wanky, to me, does neither of these. It has a couple of attractive qualities for the user:

- It says "I don't like this, but it's beyond my mental capacity and/or inclination to tell you why". What are you being paid to do, for fuck's sake?
- It does that whole low-level-swearing that people find edgy and cool nowadays. Good for you, Bill Hicks. You tell them.

My contention is that it's not only inefficient, but actively damaging to the discourse. Why care? First and foremost, because I'm a sentimental and pernickety young fool.

Secondly, it fucks up the way you think. George Orwell suggested that:

"...it is clear that the decline of a language must ultimately have political and economic causes: it is not due simply to the bad influence of this or that individual writer. But an effect can become a cause, reinforcing the original cause and producing the same effect in an intensified form, and so on indefinitely. A man may take to drink because he feels himself to be a failure, and then fail all the more completely because he drinks. It is rather the same thing that is happening to the English language. It becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts"

Language is our door to understanding and empathy. Please, try not to treat it like a catflap.

...and if you must have 'foolish thoughts', make them original.

*see, I'm perfectly capable of verbifying a noun when I need to.


With a megaphone and nothing to say

Not a great start. But maybe I'll get better soon.

...hey, I've got an idea! Why not follow me and find out?


All a matter of briefs

"For me, the requirements for an art director are different to the requirements for a wife"

-Dave Trott


Trail of Breadcrumbs 2: Trust!

Is it the subject matter? Is it the execution? Either way, this thing grabbed me.

Global Gathering have found an interesting way to reveal their lineup this year. Why should this even be an issue?

The truth lies in what it means to host an event. There is nothing, absolutely nothing to draw anyone to a music event, other than who is going to be there and the inpalpable nature of the crowd. The second one is your emotional draw, and is a branding job. The lineup, though. That's your meat. How to take the lid off the silver platter?

Most events have a fairly standard procedure for doing so - reveal most of the 'good' acts before sale date, and allow speculation and fever to build up around the identity of the headliners (promoters' note: this may very well be because the headliner hasn't confirmed, but that's another story). So it's a system of withheld information. But if this is only an strategy of patience, well, how is that interesting?

So GG wove the possibilities of interaction into it. Basically you drive the car, and every checkpoint reveals the identity of another headliner. That also gives you a little extra time, as does picking up fuel. Avoid cars and potholes.

The game is eminently playable. It has 4 buttons and 3 elements - not far from 'AVOID MISSING BALL FOR HIGH SCORE' (thanks Pong). You only go forward. The artists are not revealed in order of 'importance' so there's always motivation to keep trying - and yeah, I left unsatisfied with plenty left to uncover. I did discover the identity of a certain out-of-retirement duo that will guarantee I go, though.

It's simple, playable, and shareable. And there's a hell of a lot of bravery involved here. When was the last time you trusted consumers to use their skill to 'get' a piece of comms, let alone their intelligence>

Good job, Global Gathering!

P.S. I got 30th. Though that's certainly gone down by the time of post...


People of the Now 8 - Mike

A quiet, empty gallery in Totnes.

Me: Which is your favourite?
Mike: My favourite?? Um, haha... I can't have a favourite. But I guess that portrait at the end is the main focus of the exhibition. It took me the longest.
Ellie: Ahh, okay...
Me: I like the saws. Cutting up a book though?
Mike: Yeah, it felt like sacrilege! But I lost the book then found it in the bin, so-
Me: -I guess you saved it.
Ellie: How is the fruit so fresh on the saws?
Mike: This is only the first day of exhibition. I was cutting them up like mad at the start of the private viewing! But people didn't seem to mind.
Me: I guess the performance intermingled with the art itself. It's as though what I can see here is only a tribute to what happened in the making.
Mike: Yeah! Only got halfway through Bill Bryson before I had to saw him up, though.


The Shoebox Full Of Gold.

You know how some people have little boxes of their most treasured possessions? Possessions so treasured, in fact, that they're prepared to entomb them and look at them only every five years, all the for the knowledge that they're safe? I know people who did/do that, and it struck me as odd. Aren't your most treasured possessions your memories, and all that stuff?

Not today. Today, I'm backing up my music. 32 Gigabytes of pure love. Flowing from the teetering shack-on-a-cliff of my laptop to the lead-lined underground supersafe safe that is my budget portable hard drive. And it feels so very, very good.

Should it?
The kind of thing that's taking place as I type this is something that conventional notions of transaction and value can't keep up with, and it's a little dizzying. The hard disk costs about 50 quid. Onto it, I am adding just over 5000 songs (many of them are hours-long mixes, fact fans). At an iTunesy estimate, that'd be, what, £4050? And once I copy my dissertation, and all my old uni-work (hey, it's important), we reach about £4051. Except it's just not that valuable, is it? It's mentally impossible for me to treat the thing as though it is. Is it right that we take a shoebox and fill it with gold?

In the future, that shoebox won't even be in our hands. We'll send our stuff off to some guy who promises that he'll keep it really safe, and we can come and look at it every now and then, and poke around it, and he won't look in it himself, honest. This is called The Cloud, apparently. We'll be carrying our treasures in invisible bubbles behind us, and it'll be impossible to lose them.

Sounds awesome. Sort of.

Oh, transfer's finished. My precious...


Doing what's right / Doing what works

As you well know, I've been spending a lot of time in the British Library recently. It's been a lot of fun, a gentle cuddle for my inner student. In the process, I've been writing a lot of notes - in pencil, mind! One of the beautiful things about the library is that they absolutely insist you don't use a pen in the reading rooms and moreover, people actually obey it because the library is geared to overawe you with the sheer weight of knowledge in the place.

That's quite the digression. A little philosophy and it could've been a Comstock. The point is that in the course of my note-writing, I came to the conclusion that going through all three letters of a-n-d is a massive pain, especially when you research a subject that actually includes lists.

So, naturally, symbolism stepped into the breach. Here's where the mundane dilemma lies:

The blighter on the left is an ampersand. Shift-7 will get you one, thus: &. It's the official symbol of and-ness. Most people know of it, a smaller proportion know how to draw it, and then there's a tiny number that actually do. To start with, I thought I'd be one of them... but look at that thing. It's shite! Typographers are foaming at the mouth. Now, there's no way I'm doing one of those retarded 'e' things, a single loop that just looks like nothing.
Instead, I soon switched to the chap on the right, something I'd seen a few art directors do. It's much easier, and it looks like I've done it with less effort which is also true. People who know something about motor skills might know about this, but I'm guessing that it uses more natural hand movements; two simple curves, and a line.

It's wrong. But it works.

As is starting a sentence with 'but', like I did above, and like the DM I receive every day does. In both cases, it's to create a 'natural' feel. The 'but' is conversation, the backwards-e-with-a-line is more reminiscent of well-used characters. They're not right, but they work. Where does that leave someone like me. Someone who, well, gets a huge kick out of being right?

I guess it's just not natural to be right all the time. And if that's a classic planner's defence, I don't know what is.