cutting on the action

photography and film – facts, ideas, values

Little Rock, Pasternak

It suddenly occurred to me, as I listened to the first episode of Dr. Zhivago on BBC Radio 4, 1957 was the year Pasternak’s book was first published in the west. When I searched for the radio programme, I came across The Years of Billy Joel’s “We didn’t Start the Fire”

which which quotes the lyrics:

Little Rock, Pasternak

Mickey Mantel, Kerouac,

Sputnik, Chou En-Lai,

Bridge on the River Kwai

explaining each reference.

1957, it reminds us, is the year in question, Pasternak-wise ( though strictly-speaking 1958 in English), but the Joel song deals with all the years between 1949 – 89, which this page lists with each of its reference points from the song. Another page does the same thing Billy Joel : We Didn’t Start the Fire at The Octopus’s Garden.

What can one make of this? Anything you like. I feel inclined to ask questions about other songs and what they refer to (in the world outside), but in particular to what books they refer to, if at all. And if not why not. Or, if songs refer to book less than other things like people and places, why?

A history or sociology teacher might find this useful for a lesson or two!

Though I don’t want to chase this rabbit right down it’s hole right now, but post immediately so that it is side by side with the other post, Blogging added value , it will give someone enough to write something more substantial, perhaps in a newspaper – for which they will receive a fee. Why – knowing someone else might end up with money in the bank having got an idea from my post – should I post it in the first place? Because I got pleasure from recollection, finding some facts, writing them down and throwing a quick idea in for good measure. And doing it quickly. But why publish it? Why not keep it to myself for a later date? Maybe I could use it to write a musical based on Billy Joel songs?

One answer to posting for free instead of writing for money is too obvious but needs repeating: because humans have been shown often to prefer short-term to long term gain. If someone thinks up something (or is passed a tidbit), the pressure to pass it on is great. Chatting and gossip (which includes blog posts including intellectual ones) can’t wait. You just gotta tell someone the news! If you don’t someone else will.

November 15, 2007 Posted by | 1957, blogging, blogosphere, Chou En-Lai, human nature, kerouc, Novel, Pasternak, Sputnik, Writing | Leave a comment

Blogging added value

From Tales from the Reading Room in a post called Something worrying

the arts encompass all the spectrum of values that have nothing to do with making money. The arts have tremendous value, only because it’s non-monetary our culture is blind to it.

Litlove discusses, amongst other things, the thing about keeping-on-posting and what to post on.

My immediate, half-formed, reaction to culture is that not a single ionic column would exist if someone hadn’t made money out of it: the beauty of the Greek vase, say, was only possible because slave labour knew no knocking-off time.

For me these – we can now say, perennial – blog questions about why blog and what to put in them, and whether they are of high enough standard, always drops back to a more basic one of private and public writing. Leave aside for the moment whether something in a post is deemed generally of quality or not. It is not usually expressed like this, but anything made public (here, it is content on the web) has a potential for adding value.

The writer of a post in a blog may do it (and keep on posting) because writing and communicating facts and ideas is a pleasure. But once in the public domain it is exploitable by someone in a way the writer may not have been aware of. In some cases, a new way of exploiting what is accumulating in blogs (all web content) may only become apparent later.

In practice what goes into blogs gets concentrated, quoted, boiled down in other blogs, while at the same time dissipated as well by the very same process – not unlike Chinese whispers; the ‘value’ being degraded by misquote or misunderstanding. Comment streams within a blog often illustrate this, let alone posts by others based on the reading someone else’s post.

Links within posts ‘add value’, as they do in any type of website. The constant circulation of the same ideas (often in different form) creates meta-data and meta-knowledge (the re-explanation, refinement of the explanation of ideas). Mining everything in blogs alone could provide someone with valuable information which could be used for profit. Governments and businesses, for example, could (almost certainly do) trawl them for personal information and for trends in thinking.

One of the things bloggers do is read other things on the web and then comment on them. The constant re-circulation of information and ideas, can concentrate a core of what it generally considered to be interesting or worthy within those blogs written by reasonably intelligent, articulate and knowledge people. Here is the centre of value-added. The social network sociologists write Ph.D.s on the Venn diagrammatic associations between bloggers

The man who designs and implements blogging software does it for money. The user, the blogger, does not pay (in the case of free blogging) for the privilege of posting content, which ends up for ever on servers scattered around the world. What the blogger (and other social) software does (apart from allow people to communicate with each other) is increase the number of people actively involved in adding to the bit-stream on the web. And the more people use the web the more someone can find a way of making money out of what is deposited on it.

An example is worth a thousand pictures:

In the literary blogosphere – which ought surely to be the blitosphere, to rid us of that hard g – a ecological niche as it were, there is a willingly deposited set of facts and ideas, which have either come from the mind of the blogger or from elsewhere, such as an old-fashioned book, and which in their turn might be of value to someone, either to re-use in other literary posts, perhaps to help someone deal with or think about something they want to put in a post. At some point someone somewhere is going to dip into the circulation, find something considered useful and reuse it for profit, either back on the web or elsewhere.


I can write a post Little Rock, Pasternak…….

November 15, 2007 Posted by | added value, blitosphere, blogging, blogosphere, Pasternak | 1 Comment

WordPress vs. Blogger (free versions)

The first thing you notice about free WordPress if you have been using free Blogger, is the the way the content is much more accessible. Of course WP has a good set of more trendy templates, which is the big let down with the free version of Blogger. Many people using Blogger seem to have more than the standard templates, so it must be allowed to alter the code to suite your own requirements or else they have purchased. WordPress have decided not to allow you this freedom.

You are a long time Blogger user. You may not be an expert at HTML, but you have a few tricks up your sleeve to alter the layout, fiddle with the blogroll or add advertising widgets such as GoogleAds. When you come to try it in the free version of WordPress, you are surprised and annoyed not to be able to do the same. Though WordPress provides a small set of HTML in the code tab to use in posting, you can’ load up the template itself to tinker with the blogroll. WordPress will only allow you to use the widgets they provide. So, if you fancy putting BlogRush or somesuch on your WordPress blog, hard luck.

When you are writing a post in WordPress, and click the code tab to rearrange the text, you might be tempted to, say, try adding textarea rather than blockquote, it won’t work.

So you take your pick a nice ‘ database’, where you and your readers can find things pretty easily, or have a system where you can add any HTML.

November 2, 2007 Posted by | Blog templates, blogging, HTML | , , | Leave a comment