Sunday, June 01, 2008

corporate honesty in social media



Blogging and social media usage has a netiquette and a clear, if not always publicized, set of ethics and morals, a consensus list of rules for conduct. Not to limit creativity or innovation, but to use the new tools most effectively. This means deviating from old school corporate fluff, we-orientation, and MSM hype.

What are some of these new values that are reigning in the new media?


Authenticity. Passion. Transparency.


Three of the values that some old fashioned organizations consistently violate, thinking they can get away with it.
Incentivized opinions are not wanted, nor respected, in the social media realm.

It’s like your husband being secretly paid by a university, in an ethnomethodology experiment, to say romantic things to you, at $10 per statement. Once you found out he was being paid to seduce you, you’d surely be quite disgusted and upset, never trusting his advances ever again.

It’s PayPerPost and other compensated, coached, inauthentic recommendations, or slurs and reproaches, that will poison, pollute, and make worthless the peer-to-peer recommendation system of the social media sphere.

Corporate use of social media cannot be a crass, greedy gaming and exploitation of the online community members. Such BS will backfire. It's marketing suicide, and will be very time-consuming and expensive to correct.

Target has been caught in such deceptive antics. See: "off target".


[QUOTE]

newsletter (issue #107) from Target Rounders saying:

Your mission: try not to let on in the Facebook group that you are a Rounder. We love your enthusiasm for the Rounders, and I know it can be hard not to want to sing it from the mountaintops (and the shower, and on the bus…).

However, we want to get other members of the Facebook group excited about Target, too! And we don’t want the Rounders program to steal the show from the real star here: Target and Target’s rockin’ Facebook group! So keep it like a secret!

[END QUOTE]


Lying is, unfortunately, a prevalent advertising, and PR practice, that is rejected in the social media realm.

Bloggers are feared, because they'll bash, flame, and destroy any company caught in such immoral and counter-productive behaviors.

Social media communities tend to keep things ethical, creative, and of great practical value. You can insert your messages into the blogosphere, but try to make the core of that message e around this implied attitude:

"Your problems are understood by us. Here's how our products can solve them efficiently, economically, and reliably."

Sunday, May 25, 2008

enforcing Terms of Service violations





If you provide Terms of Service (TOS), are you ethically or legally obligated to enforce them? Let's look at the Twitter TOS controversy, from a simple, common sense point of view.

Ariel Waldman is a Twitter user. She complained to Twitter about another user who was harassing her on Twitter. This was beyond mere disagreement or a casual "you're nuts" type comment. The harassment involved filthy language.

Twitter, not known for being open to user requests and suggestions, not only did not enforce their own Terms of Service. They also shamed the victim, whined about their small staff, and declared they were "offended" at the victim accusing them of not caring about users.

This is not the proper way for a company to respond.


Some relevant items from Twitter's Terms of Service (due to change soon):


[QUOTE]

4. You must not abuse, harass, threaten, impersonate or intimidate other Twitter users.

...

Violation of any of these agreements will result in the termination of your Twitter.com account.

While Twitter.com prohibits such conduct and content on its site, you understand and agree that Twitter cannot be responsible for the Content posted on its web site and you nonetheless may be exposed to such materials and that you use the Twitter.com service at your own risk.

...
    We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone for any reason at any time.

    We may, but have no obligation to, remove Content and accounts containing Content that we determine in our sole discretion are unlawful, offensive, threatening, libelous, defamatory, obscene or otherwise objectionable or violates any party's intellectual property or these Terms of Use.


    [END QUOTE]



    Did Twitter stand true to their TOS, and account removal policy, in Ariel's case, or were they negligent?

    Here's the TOS / Ariel Waldman debate on the Twitter blog.

    http://blog.twitter.com/2008/05/
    twitter-enforces-tos-cares-about-users.html

    More here: Summize archive re: Ariel.

    And here: Twitter refuses to uphold Terms of Service.

    It's not "mediating disputes between people" that's the issue here. It's enforcing your TOS.

    You decide if you like Twitter's tone and handling of this situation. Personally, I do not.

    Saturday, May 24, 2008

    blogs are the NASCAR of the internet




    Corporations can learn a lot from NASCAR.

    People are losing faith in corporations, for many reasons. People are sick of the aloof, pompous, unapproachable nature of many CEOs and companies. Customer service is often reluctant, insincere, and even outsourced to individuals who don't speak good English.

    Blogs can repair much of the damage to public perception of corporations.

    If the CEO, or some passionate and informed company spokesperson, has a blog, then trust can be built. Customers and prospects can post comments, which may be questions, suggestions, or criticisms. A smart business values all input, both positive and negative.

    Increasingly, in the new digital world we live in, if you don't have a blog, you don't exist.

    If you don't have a blog, you send this message:

    "I don't care about starting conversations with anybody. Why form relationships? Why be transparent? Why value customer input? I value only customer dollars. Buy my product now."

    Dale Earnhardt, Jr., in his book Driver #8 (page 5-6), said:

    "Being a Winston Cup driver means being accessible to the fans. This accessibility is the basis of NASCAR's popularity...

    The drivers have known for years they weren't anything without the fans. So they signed autographs, did interviews, and they let the fans get close and see them. The fans felt like they knew the drivers personally, and the result was fan loyalty.

    This continues today. When a lot of other sports see declining loyalty among fans and players, NASCAR fans remain faithful."

    Blogs enable your customers to get close to you.

    Implemented correctly, a CEO blog can be far more effective than any sporadic damage control PR. To ignore the blogosphere is to remain stuck in Business As Usual, which leads to Business As Over.

    Wednesday, May 21, 2008

    12 tips on live streaming video




    Today I received an email newsletter from UstreamTV, regarding best practices for live streaming video shows.


    [QUOTE]

    “What are the keys to a good stream?”

    The basics are pretty simple:

    * Make sure you have good lighting - This is super important.

    * Make sure you have a good internet connection - this prevents frame loss and choppy video.

    * Make sure you close programs on your computer that you aren't using - computers bogged down by other programs can cause your stream to be lower quality.

    Lastly...have good content!

    [END QUOTE]




    To expand a bit on that message, here's my list of some additional best practices. These tips will help your live streaming video show be more interesting, enjoyable, and successful.




    (1) Purpose

    What's the goal of your show? To ramble on about anything that pops into your head may work for some, especially pretty females, but generally, it's a formula for failure.

    Share your expertise, passion, skill, or hobby, in a way that will benefit or entertain others. Make them smarter or make them laugh. If you can do both simultaneously, you're a genius.

    Have a unique comedy show. Play music. Present tutorials. Do something that people will want to view live or in the archives, something of value, something that lends itself to visual display, like art or poetry readings or technical how-to instructions.

    I recall how on Justin.TV, there was a woman who, with a swimsuit on, read her poetry while sitting in a bathtub. That was weird, funny, and unique!



    (2) Audio Quality

    Bad sound, or volume levels that are too high or low, can ruin a show and make people decide to never return. Music bands often encounter this problem, but few have the expertise to solve it.




    (3) Appropriate Environment/Decor

    Barren rooms are bleak and not interesting.

    Why not have a sign in the background that identifies you, by name, or by the title of your show? All music bands should have the name of their band displayed on the drums, on tee shirts, or on a big sign, during live shows in both real world venues and live streaming video.

    Have a nice, or bizarre, or ritzy setting for your show, whatever style is appropriate.

    Vary the decor or even the location, as much as you can. Go to thrift stores to find inexpensive, but eye-catching props, which could be toys, paintings, backdrops, or mannequins.

    Have the URL for your blog or website on a sign behind you. Display your email address if you want people to contact you. Don't just hold up a sign for a few seconds. Keep the sign visible all through your show, for latecomers.



    (4) Appropriate Length

    If your shows are too short, it will look like nothing could possibly be going on. If your shows are too long, people will get bored part-way through, and probably never return.

    Remember, your show is actually two separate events: the live performance and the archived performance.

    Viewers may tolerate a long show while it's happening live, but people who check out your archives may be turned off by anything that's longer than 30 or 60 minutes, depending on who you are and what your show is about.



    (5) Planned Content

    While some web-casters can get away with being spontaneous, as a general rule, improvised shows are vulnerable. You may suddenly not know how to continue, things could fall apart, and you'll look too amateurish, too disorganized. Viewers will get impatient watching you fumble around and grope for some way to fill the time.

    At least have a basic outline of what you want to cover. Don't count on viewers providing great questions or comments via the chat panel. When a web-caster relies on audience participation to provide direction for your show, you will probably flounder around and look ridiculous.

    If you do react to live chat input, do more than just answer a question with a few sentences. Use the question or comment as a springboard to move to a discussion, but don't ramble on too long.

    Have a back up plan if a scheduled guest doesn't show up, or some other aspect fails to come off right. Try to have more options than you think you'll need, just in case.



    (6) Varied Content

    Treat your fans to unexpected experiences. Have a guest speaker, a live debate or panel discussion, or let some other band perform. Play some public domain or non-copyrighted material in the background or incorporate it in your show.

    Dress in unusual outfits or wear a uniform that you wear at your job. Put on a wig or a pair of really far-out sunglasses.

    Avoid doing the same things over and over again.

    If you're in a band, don't play the same songs every time. And never assume that "band practice" is of any interest to anybody. Live streaming video shows should not be "practice" or "rehearsal", but should be polished performances, unless your band is so famous, people will watch anything.



    (7) Delete and Re-do


    After a show is presented, saved, and archived, view it immediately. If there are major mistakes, like horrible sound or visuals, delete it and re-do it, even if all your live viewers have left.

    A music band that I help did a crap show last Saturday. They left the soundboard audio levels up high from a recording session, and forgot to turn them down for the live show. So the entire 60 minute episode was rotten, unlistenable, unbearably bad.

    I suggested they do a quick re-do. They took a break, then jumped back in and did a 17 minute show that was much better.

    Think in terms of archives. You don't want people to check out the archived shows and see a terrible show. A short good show is always better than a regular-length crap show.


    (8) Audience Interaction


    Be sure to interact, as much as possible, with viewers, via the chat panel. This will make your show more interesting, and you'll be considered more friendly and approachable. It's all about connecting with people and sharing your life with them.



    (9) Kick and Ban

    If your video stream site enables you to kick trolls and filth-talkers off your channel, and ban them from ever visiting again, do it. Don't be shy. Why let some jerk ruin it for everybody?

    Female web-casters especially need to exercise this kick and ban functionality.

    Some men will stalk these live streaming video channels to find women to prey upoon. They'll "innocently" say things like "I don't see a man around. Are you single? I saw your daughter. It must be tough to be single mom. Living alone can be a drag, huh?" and so on to get the woman to let her guard down and reveal things she should not reveal.



    (10) Missed Episode Notification


    If for some reason, you must skip a regularly scheduled episode of your show, at least put up a sign in your photo slide show that explains it. Or do a brief show prior to the regular one, in which you personally tell your fans why there's no show coming on the date and time they normally expect it.




    (11) Regular Schedule


    Commit to a definite time and day for your shows. For example, every Saturday at 5 PM CST. Do not deviate from this, and try not to miss any episodes.



    (12) Good Equipment


    Don't use the cheapest webcam you can find. I recommend the Logitech UltraVision for HD sound and image.

    Try some effects for a bit of fun. Have a friend who knows something about film-making or using a webcam do your video. Vary the angles. Use a bird's eye view by hoisting the webcam up high above the scenes. Put the webcam on the floor and point it up. Try a black and white episode.


    +

    As a final note, be sure to watch other live streaming video shows, and try to figure out why some shows are far more popular than others. Interact with other webcasters and contribute nice comments to their shows. This can drive traffic to your show, and you may make some good friends of other webcasters, too.


    +

    Monday, May 12, 2008

    hype vs marketing





    Is marketing just hype? Or is marketing, in the best sense, something other than bullying, exaggeration, and fluff?

    What is hype? What is marketing? What separates them as opposing concepts?

    Hype is any form of pushy sales, where the company wants to overpower, overwhelm, and overcome your resistance to purchasing their product right now.

    You, as a potential customer, are not important or interesting: it's your wallet they're after. They don't have time to understand your specific problems and needs, they just assume you could use their product, so they try to clobber you with thought clubs. Beat you into submission. Trick you, seduce you, lure you. Force you or dazzle you into buying their product.

    Hype, being product-centric, rather than user-centric, uses "we", "us", "our" instead of "you" and "your".

    Hype is akin to frenzy, hysteria. It's fluff in higher gear.

    Hype is arrogant, egotistical, neurotic. Hype is grasping, craving, obsessing over converting you into a paying customer, then moving on to the next "conquest". As in romance, the conquest is not treated kindly by the pursuer: customer loyalty and repeat purchases are lost by hype.

    Hype is hyperbolic, i.e., exaggeration, partial truth, pregnant with undisclosed downsides. It paints an over-excited picture of the miraculous product, and the extreme proclamations and claims are clownishly coy and patently absurd.

    Educated, sober, mature customers don't fall for it. Hype offends the right-thinking person. Hype only works like hucksterism, snake oil salesmen, and cult leaders: they prey on the weak and feeble minded, the young and the senile, the paranoid and approval addicts.

    Marketing is sober communication of how a product can solve a problem, or enhance the life, or meet some need, for a customer.

    Marketing helps the customer decide which model, color, size, style, etc. is right for him or her.

    Marketing helps the customer understand his or her own problem better, which is due to a truthful positioning of the company as a leading expert.

    No exaggeration. No inflated claims. No sex appeal. No reaching out to baser instincts. No bedazzling with showy gimmicks. No rush to make the sale and move on to the next victim.

    Car commercials are idiotic hype, for example, almost without a single exception. Driving at illegal speeds, with no other traffic, and no pedestrians, or cops, around for miles. Or balloons and hot dogs and popcorn, it's a circus, not a car dealership. You get the idea.

    Music band promotions are 98% hype. Exaggerated claims of virtuosos, new directions, unheard-of sounds, giant leaps in imagination, trend-setting stylistics, astonishing lyrical gifts, beautiful crooning...and it all sounds mediocre, exactly like, or less than, what came before.


    This topic of Hype vs. Marketing was inspired by a Twitter message ("tweet") from @markdavidson:

    http://twitter.com/markdavidson/
    statuses/808184725


    [QUOTE]

    My own PR person just told me my passion might be coming across too much like an infomercial. (This is why I retain a PR professional.)

    [END QUOTE]


    An infomercial is advertising that pretends to be providing information about a skill, industry, need, or how-to topic, but is using the information to trick people into receiving product sales promotions.


    Here are my Twitter replies to him:



    hype vs. marketing 1

    http://twitter.com/vaspersthegrate/
    statuses/808185617


    @markdavison - Your PR person may be right. Try to be more enthusiastic about your niche or field, not about yourself or your products.





    hype vs. marketing 2

    http://twitter.com/vaspersthegrate/
    statuses/808185108


    @markdavidson - For me, it's all about being passionate about ideas, and not about my own products, music, or marketing expertise.



    Marketing begins with the customer's needs, problems, or desires. Not with the company, product, or sales pitch.

    You start with the actual situation and human reality of the customer. You build a gestalt, a complete vision of what the customer wants to accomplish, then present the product in terms of how it helps the customer in a reliable, economical, efficient, satisfying manner.

    Or, as in music and food especially, the instant consumables, you give free samples. Let the product sell itself to those with the required tastes, interests, and needs. Talking about music is boring. Let's hear it and have it. Let your fans hear and have your music, for free, abundantly, and they may do you the favor of distributing it to others, and causing a groundswell of craving for more, at any price. The collector mentality.

    If you want to annoy people, use idiotic, self-centered hype.

    If you want to help people, use smart, altruistic marketing.

    Saturday, May 10, 2008

    Twitter as social bookmarking


    Twitter is a popular micro-blogging, status update, link archiving, and asynchronous chat communication tool.

    It's also, like many Web 2.0 sites, a lively social community. Users share everything from what they had for lunch, or what airport they're stuck in...to profound declarations of revolutionary activism and links to emerging tech tools that are now open to beta testers.

    Unlike FarceBook, I mean Facebook, it's remained simple, streamlined, and sleek.

    Let's look briefly at using Twitter as a way to keep all your favorite or important links in one convenient location, while enabling others to visit those. Saving a URL to your Favorites or Bookmarks file is private bookmarking. Sharing links with others, in addition to archiving the links for personal use, is called "social bookmarking".

    del.icio.us is a popular social bookmarking site. Jason Calacanis once said, on Twitter, that he was going to "blog over at del.icio.us" for a while, exclusively, as an experiment. You can blog on del.icio.us because you can attach comments to the links you post.

    But if Twitter is your primary communication channel, why not use it as your social bookmarking application?

    You have a Twitter account.

    You tweet (send a Twitter message) to your Followers, and if they happen to be on Twitter's rushing river of brevities at that moment, they'll see it "live", in real time. If not, they won't ever read it, unless they consider your tweets so valuable, they click on your Profile and view your past messages.

    So, there you are, communicating in 140 character bursts to your Followers. Pithy writing, condensing a complex or frivolous thought to essential wording, this is a marketable skill. Business writing is not easy, and brevity, being concise and short in your communication, is a valuable art. So as you tweet, you're increasingly gain skill in fast, brief communication.

    But let's say you're not on Twitter, you're just surfing the web, researching a topic, or looking for something entertaining, a blog post or video or music. When you find something that is so cool or helpful, you wish others could know about it, Twitter the link.

    When you share the link with your Twitter community, you must turn a long web address into a short one. You can use TinyURL to accomplish this task. Use your cursor or keyboard command to highlight the URL, go to Edit in your browser chrome and click on Copy, or use Ctrl + C on your keyboard.

    http://tinyurl.com/

    You have now saved the URL to your browser memory, and can convert it to a shorter web address. Paste that long URL into the text entry box on the TinyURL interface. Once you've shortened the URL, it's ready for your tweet.

    To speed up the conversion process, install a TinyURL toolbar button on your browser, so every time you need to convert a URL to short form, you just click on the button. TinyURL then converts the URL of the web page to a shorter code.

    SAMPLE Twitter message, in social bookmarking mode:


    Free legal mp3s of A Silver Mt. Zion, avant-garde classical art music, at http://tinyurl.com/3t2ch9


    That's about 90 characters, well under the 140 limit. But it conveys what the link is, what kind of music, and name of band, with a URL that your Followers can click on to visit the site.

    Voila! You've just shared a link. You've also archived it, for your own future personal reference. You may want to print out your tweets, so you have an offline copy of your messages and shared links, for when Twitter is down, or if Twitter ever vanishes.

    SIDE NOTE: A blogger once said that TinyURL could be the next Digg or YouTube, perhaps even bigger. TinyURL database contains URLs of web pages that people have gone to the trouble of converting to shorter addresses, so these web pages must be significant. The data mining possibilities are clearly there.

    +!+

    Friday, May 09, 2008

    Sources Quoting Steven Streight




    View Steven Streight's profile on LinkedIn




    Steven E. Streight aka Vaspers, web usability analyst, web content creator, and social media specialist, has been quoted in the following books, publications, and blogs:



    Naked Conversations:
    How Blogs are Changing the Way Businesses Talk with Customers

    by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel (John Wiley & Sons, 2006)

    http://tinyurl.com/32hf29





    US News & World Report

    50 Ways to Improve Your Life:
    Start Your Own Blog

    http://www.usnews.com/usnews/
    health/articles/061217/25blog.mind.htm



    BusinessWeek Blogspotting “The Importance of Taglines

    http://www.businessweek.com/the_thread/
    blogspotting/archives/2005/05/
    the_importance.html


    The blogosphere is not credible?

    http://www.businessweek.com/the_thread/
    blogspotting/archives/2006/07/
    the_blogosphere_1.html




    Blog Marketing by Jeremy Wright (McGraw-Hill, 2005)

    http://tinyurl.com/35gxny




    Society for Technical Communication
    Usability Interface Newsletter Online

    User Observation Testing: Forms & Procedures

    http://www.stcsig.org/usability/
    newsletter/0408-user-observation.html






    Better Communication Results (Lee Hopkins)

    "The regrettable Amanda Chapel imbroglio"

    http://leehopkins.net/2008/07/09/
    the-servant-of-chaos-on-the-
    regrettable-amanda-chapel-imbroglio/





    Jason Calacanis
    Entrepreneur in Action at Sequoia Capital, co-founder of Weblogs, Inc., and GM of Netscape.

    "Feedback on My Linkbaiting Rules"

    http://www.calacanis.com/2007/04/
    27/feedback-on-my-link-baiting-rules/


    "#2: Vaspers the Grate--a blog I read all the time--also has some really interesting thoughts on linkbaiting." - Jason Calacanis



    CEO Blog – Time Leadership
    Jim Estill, CEO, Synnex Canada ($3 billion company)

    CEO Blogs and CEO Blogging

    http://www.jimestill.com/2006/
    08/ceo-blogs-and-ceo-blogging.html




    Doc Searls Weblog (pioneer tech blogger)

    Where 0.1

    http://doc.weblogs.com/
    2007/01/20#where01


    All the news that’s fit to annotate

    http://doc.weblogs.com/2005/05/
    30#allTheNewsThatsFitToAnnotate




    John C. Dvorak

    (PC Magazine, CBS MarketWatch, Dvorak Uncensored)

    Wall Street Journal Still in the Dark About Blogs

    http://www.dvorak.org/blog/?p=1775




    Consumer Reports WebWatch

    Websites that are pledged to uphold credibility guidelines.

    Listed as Streight Site Systems.

    http://www.consumerwebwatch.org/
    praise-worthy.cfm#s



    Evan Williams (EvHead, Blogger, Odeo, Twitter)

    "Measuring Blog Impact

    http://evhead.com/2005/
    05/measuring-blog-impact.asp




    Darren Rowse (Pro Blogger)

    Writing Effective Post Titles

    http://www.problogger.net/archives/
    2005/05/25/writing-effective-blog-post-titles





    Katherine Stone (Decent Marketing)

    "Don’t Worry, Be Crappy?"

    http://decentmarketing.typepad.com/
    weblog/2005/02/dont_worry_be_c.html





    Dave Taylor (Intuitive Life Business Blog)

    What makes a successful blog?

    http://www.intuitive.com/blog/
    what_makes_a_successful_blog.html





    Satish Talim

    (Appliblog: Applied Software & Technology)

    8 ways to decide what to blog about next

    http://personalwebsiteblog.blogspot.com/
    2005/05/8-ways-to-decide-what-
    to-blog-about.html





    Jennifer Rice (What's Your Brand Mantra)

    Not Worthy

    http://brand.blogs.com/mantra/
    2005/03/not_worthy.html




    Debbie Weil (BlogWrite for CEOs)

    What makes a successful blog?

    http://blogwrite.blogs.com/blogwrite/
    2005/02/what_makes_a_su.html

    Thursday, May 08, 2008

    futuristic soundscapes CD





    Str8 SOUNDS
    "Futuristic Soundscapes"




    FREE mp3s of entire CD at:
    The Str8 Sounds on Last.fm


    http://www.last.fm/music/
    Str8+Sounds/STR8+SOUNDS+
    "Futuristic+Soundscapes"
    +May+2008



    Electro Harmonix Rhythm-12




    (1) Wild Animal (2:56)

    (2) Art Forum Magazine (6:42)

    (3) Synthesizer Modulated by Voice (10:14)

    (4) Candy Rain Glow (11:04)

    (5) MR-12 Rhythm on Mars [essentialist mix] (6:17)

    (6) Soundscape #6: Yamaha MR-10/Casio/Arp (6:58)

    (7) Korg MiniPops35/Conn MinOMatic (9:17)

    (8) Super Nice Divinity (7:25)

    (9) Electro Harmonix Rhythm 12/Farfisa (7:28)

    (10) Peptide Pomade (4:35)



    Total Entertainment Time = 73:24






    Emu Edrum



    This album includes virtual simulations of all
    these old rhythm machines, and many more.




    Korg MiniPops 35




    Maestro Rhythm King





    MPC the Kit

    pure internet music





    What, if it occurred, could we reasonably regard as Pure Internet Music?

    Growing weary of my physical sound devices, mechanical tone generators, and manufactured synthesizers -- my Casio, Farfisa, Yamaha, plastic clown organ, plastic shepherds pipe, Marine Band harmonica, and crazy chicken squeak toy -- abandoning these professional concert instruments, I sought what was beyond them.

    I relinquished my grip on the real world instruments, though I did continue to add them into the soundpathing to further confuse the issue and add sonic textures or contours to the final mastering process. But they became marginalized, addendum, no longer front and center.

    I aggressively hunted down the Instruments That Don't Exist (...but the music does, it's recorded and duplicated on physical CDs!).

    I mytho-poetically pursued virtual music instrument simulations, online audio and video studios, and web-enabled beat-mix machines.

    My latest music, collected as Str8 Sounds "Futuristic Soundscapes", relies almost entirely on my manipulations and orchestrations of online beat mixes, old synthesizer product demo records (Casio, Arp, Orchestrator).

    NOTE: I'll upload the entire "Futuristic Soundscapes" CD to my The Str8 Sounds on Last.fm page later today. You may hear tracks "Super Nice Divinity", "Wild Animal", and "Art Forum Magazine", songs constructed from virtual instruments, rhythm machines, and product demos, at The Str8 Sounds on MySpaceMusic.

    I'm also using virtual simulations of retro rhythm machines: Korg MiniPops 35, Electro Harmonix Rhythm 12, Boss DR 55, Electro Harmonix Space Drum, Roland TR 55, Yamaha EM 90, Seeburg Select A Rhythm, MPC the Kit, Seeburg Rhythm Prince, Maestro Rhythm, Conn Min O Matic, Tronix Rhythm Box, Susuki RPM 40, E Mu E Drum, Austin Rhythm Box, Univox MicroRhythmer, graciously and without charge, from a virtual audio museum.

    All these unique instrumentations are processed, usually quite heavily, through the virtual effects of the Audacity online music studio. Music videos and art films are produced using a popular online movie editor.

    Services, is what they all are, more than merely instruments, museums, or studios.

    But it's all online, all free, all democratic and anarchist in their indiscriminate abundance and lack of use restrictions or rules. They are simulations, existing only on the internet, and everybody can use them. It's fun to use them in ways their creators never intended or imagined, btw.

    Str8 Sounds Therabusive Noise Carnival officially now is using predominantly non-existent musical instrumentation, having invented many of the presiding techniques in this burgeoning field.

    Akin to the Circuit Bender phenomenon, and Net Art experimentations, Unreal Music Fantabulation (encompassing all the recording, production, social networking, and distribution tool associated with music creation and marketing) is the Next Big Thing in both democratic indoctrination and music domination.


    Democratic Indoctrination: the universal availability/accessibility of these ultra-post-submodern music tools are heavily seeded fruits of democracy, internet, and the phenomenal rise of individual empowerment for the common person.

    Music Domination: you must use these social networking and music distribution tools to promote all types of music, not just electronic, rock, and avant garde. Everybody's surfing the web, with PCs and cell phones, hunting for information, news, bargains, opinions, social interactions, and entertainment. If your band isn't all over the internet, in many different virtual venues, you increasingly don't exist.


    Your band needs to be heavily present on:

    1. MySpace (music artist account)

    2. YouTube (director's account)

    3. Last.fm (band account)

    4. Twitter (social networking)

    5. UstreamTV (live streaming shows)

    6. Local music scene websites (like LiveMusicPeoria)


    Those are the top six methodologies that I recommend, just to get started in music marketing.

    Wednesday, May 07, 2008

    why critics are not always right






    Critics come in many varieties.

    In blogocombat, one must ascertain what type of critic is on the offensive against you: a person who wishes to help you, and is not jealous ... versus a troll who just enjoys inflicting hurtful comments on other people.

    Some critics offer you helpful hints on how to improve, or how to fulfill their own personal vision of what you ought to be, or how to please their individual tastes. Others attack you out of jealousy and a feeling of inadequacy. They hate how popular and successful you are. Then there are sadistic misanthropes who just love to argue, injure, demoralize, and mock anyone and everyone.

    Some critics are smart. Some are stupid. Some are insightful and profound. Some are purely emotional. Some critics are creative colleagues. Some critics are mediocre wankers.

    So why would a blogger state that all critics are always right?

    Why would you assume that if someone dislikes your work, you must change for them?

    Why would you assume that if someone is angry at you, that you caused this anger, and you must appease the critic, make them happy again?

    Why assume that every critic has noble intentions and valid perceptions of you? This is a very masochistic and subservient point of view, one that is inappropriate in business, art, and social interactions.



    "Let Me Save You $40, Here's How to Be Happy"




    [QUOTE]


    5. Your Critics Are Always Right

    If someone seriously says that you are some way — if they tell you you’re embarrassing to be around, or if they compare you to someone you hate, or if they say you’re not a very nice person, or whatever — then you are that way.

    You may not be that way in the core of your being, and you may not want to be that way, and it may be a surprise that you have come off that way, but their perception of you is valid, and you need to accept and deal with that.

    What did you do that made them think that was true? Where are they coming from with their experience of you that made it seem accurate? Ask yourself (and them) these questions, and see if you can take it as an opportunity for self-improvement.

    Don’t do what most people do, which is to take it as an attack that needs to be responded to with anger and yelling. Then you’re just taking an opportunity to make yourself better and replacing it with an opportunity to hurt a your relationship with them.

    Now, of course, you need to be sure they’re serious: something said in the middle of a fight or said flippantly doesn’t really qualify. So you need to be sure they’re serious. But if your critic is serious, then your critic is right.



    [END QUOTE]



    "If the critic is serious, the critic is right"...? Seriousness is sometimes envy in disguise, and even if it was totally benevolent, a critique is not "right" simply because the critic is serious, sincere, or well-intentioned.

    Many hateful people try to coat their venom and vindictive in a scholarly tone, for a fake "authoritarian" pomposity that tries to belittle or diminish what you're doing. Your attempts and efforts make them uncomfortable, because they are reminders of how your so-called critic has failed, or has been to afraid to experiment.

    "...their perception of you is valid, and you need to accept and deal with that." ? Says who? What makes someone's perception of another person valid? Don't people have misguided perceptions? Don't we experience errors in perception all the time? What makes a jealous person's opinions, feelings, and perceptions "valid"?

    This is the mantra of the battered wife: "He beats me, but I deserve it. I'm a bad person, and I need to be punished and humiliated. It's all my fault. I'm always wrong, and he's always right. I'm lucky to have him. Nobody else will ever want me."

    Let's say you're a really nice person who loves to help others. But one person tried to bully you into watching a film he just made, and you have prior commitments. So that person, acting as a self-appointed critic, calls you a "selfish jerk".

    Is that critique "valid"?

    No, not at all. He's the selfish, domineering manipulator, and you're just a person who has to do something other than what he wants you to do.

    What if you're writing poetry, and have a blog devoted to your poems, with lots of nice comments from your fans. A person you know also writes poetry, but is too insecure and sensitive to post her poems on the internet, for she fears "destructive" (honest) critique. Now, what if she criticizes your poems and says you should not post them on your blog, your poems are so horrible.

    She says, in her opinion, that your poems are bad, your fans are few and deluded, and it's your vain egotism that is driving you to publish a poetry blog. It's upsetting her, and you must quit.

    Would that be a "valid" critique?

    Don't we have to do more than just accept any input from any source, as valid feedback?

    I'm not saying that only positive feedback is valid. I'm just saying that all critique is not of equal quality, nor is critique a one-dimensional event with no context or history.

    Consider the source, as they say. Contemplate why someone is trashing you. Could it be more than cold, scientific, unbiased, impersonal objectivity?

    Tuesday, May 06, 2008

    May 2008 artwork 1


    perfection flaw

    (digital paint)















    woman with hamburger

    (acrylic, interior/exterior spray paint,
    newsprint collage on 20 lb. /
    110 bright computer paper)















    we (the) others

    (webcam photo w/digital effects)














    ,efficiency / friendly technology

    (interior/exterior spray paint, synthetic flower,
    dimensional fabric paint, acrylic,
    yellow mustard, wood glue, newsprint,
    on 20 lb. /110 bright computer paper)






















    heightened attention

    (digital paint)












    josh

    (acrylic, interior/exterior spray paint,
    dimensional fabric paint,
    scented water color markers,
    rubber band, Scotch tape, cashew,
    toilet paper, sock cloth,
    newsprint collage on 20 lb. /
    110 bright computer paper)












    inner swim

    (webcam photo of strobe light,
    w/digital effects)














    infinite creativity

    (acrylic, interior/exterior spray paint,
    scented water color markers,
    newsprint collage on 20 lb. /
    110 bright computer paper)














    information act on it now

    (acrylic, interior/exterior spray paint,
    scented water color markers,
    newsprint, on 20 lb. /
    110 bright computer paper)














    self calming

    (digital paint)













    death is unreal

    (photo w/ digital effects)
















    eye of space

    (acrylic, scented water color markers,
    toilet paper, newsprint,
    on printed photo)



















    worldly experience

    (acrylic, scented water color markers,
    newsprint, transparent plastic,
    on 20 lb. / 110 bright computer paper)















    voyage one

    (digital paint)





    ||||||||||||



    Thanks to Art Forum
    and Ubu Web
    for the inspiration/infotainment.



    ||||||||||||



    For a LIMITED TIME only...

    Listen to STR8 SOUNDS tune:
    "Art Forum Magazine"

    at

    The Str8 Sounds on MySpace Music
    http://myspace.com/thestr8sounds


    ||||||||||||

    Saturday, May 03, 2008

    how to announce a canceled internet TV show episode




    What do you do when your band can't perform their unique live streaming video show, due to conflicting family events? You can't just not do the show, and not explain why. You have to please your fans and respect their cravings. Your fans will be disappointed, some may be angry, or so bored and in need of an easy internet thrill, they move onto some other entertainment, permanently.


    Here are some ideas:

    (1) Put a "No Show This Saturday 45-4-2008. Sorry. We'll be back next Saturday." message on the site that hosts your show (UstreamTV, JustinTV, KyteTV, etc.) and all your band's blogs and websites.

    (2) Get the band together to do a special quickie show, prior to the regularly scheduled show (thus: few fans will be watching it live), but archived so fans can view it when they show up for the regularly scheduled show, as a placeholder fill-in. It will give your fans a little something to chew on, and ensures the perception of continuity of your programming.

    (3) Do an explanation video, with just the band leader and a family member, or a friend, or your manager, or whoever you can toss a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon at to do you a fast favor. Be creative. Make even a No Show video announcement as interesting and entertaining as possible.

    (4) Record a new music video, of a song you do well and fans like it, and put that up on your streaming video host site, MySpace page, main band website, and blogs. Let that be in lieu of a full show. At least you're giving them a little bit of what you normally do on a larger scale. That might tide them over till the next show.

    (5) Link to a special, new, free mp3 download of a tune, or upload some video footage from a recent show, or some new photos of the band.

    Now try to dream up your own ideas on what you could do to Keep Your Loyal Fans Happy. That's really the name of the game, right? In business, we say that the most valuable asset of any company is it's customer list. That's true in music marketing, too.

    Why let a scheduling conflict ruin things for the fickle web surfer community that loves your innovative show?

    By doing SOMETHING rather than NOTHING, your fans and newcomers will be impressed. These little dopey things mean a lot to music lovers, who are abnormally sensitive to slightest details in the music and presentations of bands. It's kind of like how baseball fanatics know all the stats on players and stuff.


    SkabTV had to skip an episode.

    http://www.ustream.tv/theskabs


    Here's what was done to announce it: the SkabTV Crow Take-over mini-episode...

    http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/390478





    Friday, May 02, 2008

    priorities for modern music marketing







    Today's music marketing requires a band, or at minimum, their manager, to experiment with emerging forms of digital connectivity: online publicity, social media music communities, and internet music distribution.

    Should we abandon the old fashioned "gigs" at real world venues like bars, clubs, birthday parties, and ampitheatres?


    Here are the priorities I would suggest for music bands.


    Modern Music
    Marketing Priorities



    Assuming your music is polished, and your band is a coherent unit, ready for mass acceptance and universal fame, proceed with the following actions.


    (1) mp3s uploaded, as free full-length downloadable files, to MySpace Music (artist account) and Last.fm

    (2) CDs given to friends, family, fellow musicians, music reviewers, music bloggers

    (3) mp3s uploaded to net labels and Archive.org

    (4) live streaming video show (not band practice, but actual events: a set of songs, a comedy skit, interviews with other bands, guest band performances, discussion of music topics, music news)

    (5) band blog: where news, photos, videos, opinion, reviews of other bands and CDs, etc. can provide value to fans

    (6) videos uploaded to YouTube, the band's MySpace Music site, the band's blog

    (7) photos and poster art uploaded to the band's blog, MySpace Music site, flickr

    (8) live performances in real world venues



    I put live performances in real world venues last, not to degrade or devalue it, but to emphasize how the online world is rapidly becoming the primary source of news, opinion, and product by and about musicians.

    You get more bang for the buck, so to speak, by emphasizing the digital tools of music promotion and distribution.

    Quit thinking only in terms of "getting gigs" in real world venues. Stop craving only a "recording contract" from a traditional record label. Look into doing online shows and videos for web surfers. Realize how music fans are spending way more time discovering bands, listening to mp3s, and downloading music...than they are going to "gigs" in bars and arenas.

    Real world venues are great. Nothing can replace the experience, the atmospheric electricity of being in a building, in close physical proximity to a band you like, and watching the flesh and blood musicians struggle on stage to entertain you and fulfill their artistic vision.

    But...you can reach MORE people FASTER when you use online tools and internet venues.

    Let's finish this harangue with a few observations on live presence vs. virtualized action, or, in other words...


    Live Real World Venues

    vs.

    Live Streaming Internet Video


    In a live show that occurs in the real world, you reach from 50 to 50,000 people...and, unless you're a really big national or popular local act, only a fraction of them are real fans. Many are just bar clientele who happen to be there when you play, others are attending the show just to get out of the house for a while. Then you have people who know and like your music. They may be the only ones arriving at the show specifically to see you play.

    Live streaming video productions are different. People are watching it on their computers because they're curious or they know and like your music. In a bar, if the band is boring, you can at least go get another beer or hit on some attractive barfly. But if your live streaming video show sucks, disappointed fans just click...and POOF. They're gone. It's easy, and nobody gives them a funny look.

    In a live show in the real world, your music and performance quickly fades from memory. There is often no recording or archiving of it. It vanishes into thin air. But in live streaming video shows, you can archive and label show for future viewing. It's all there. Forever.

    You may want to delete or hide certain shows due to flawed performance, bad sound quality, poor video work, failed skits, or other reasons that make put your band in a bad light. Don't worship your work: critique it and get rid of the crap, even if most of it is substandard. Keep only the real gems, that you're proud of and fans rave about.

    You can't do the same old junk every show when you're live streaming a video show. Fans can watch previous episodes for songs, skits, and discussions you've already done. This is the challenge: to keep doing new, unexpected, entertaining things.

    This may mean going to thrift stores and buying wigs, masks, crazy hats, and assorted props. It may include doing parodies of rock star celebrities, or arguing political issues, or doing a satire on a recent mainstream news item.

    Explore. Experiment. Extract the good, and delete the not so great.

    You don't need a lot of cash or equipment. Your soundboard, a webcam, a computer microphone, perhaps an online audio editor like Audacity. That's about it.

    Start with making music videos with your webcam or digital camcorder, then uploading the best ones to YouTube. Grab the embed code and put them on your MySpace Music and blog or band website.

    Make an abundance of free material available to fans and music lovers.

    Free generates Paid.

    There is too much music. There are too many bands. Fans cannot make sense of all the options for satisfying their music hunger. Too many bands think that photos, videos, and hype will get them fans. No. You must provide music lovers with ever increasing amounts of free full-length mp3s, to let them hear your sound.

    Hearing leads to having and wanting, and fans turn into unpaid buzz generators, promoting your terrific tunes.

    Free takes you from Unknown and Unwanted...to Known and Craved.

    Once your free product generates buzz, your collector mentality, hard core fans will demand more...at almost any price. For bragging rights mainly, or perhaps: a true love of your music and its message, if you're lucky.




    Thursday, May 01, 2008

    If real life was like Facebook VIDEO

    This brilliant gem is from a Twitter link by @nicolejordan to @stevehall Ad Gabber blog.

    "Life Would Be Very Strange If Facebook Interaction Was Real World"

    http://www.adgabber.com/video/
    video/show?id=546804:Video:94292

    What if interactions in the real world were like Facebook?

    Tuesday, April 29, 2008

    Vaspers gets 8.3 ranking from Blogged.com










    Here's an email I got this evening from Blogged.com about this blog.

    Vaspers 8.3 Rank on Blogged.com



    [QUOTE]



    Dear Steven E. Streight,


    Our editors recently reviewed your blog and have given it an 8.3 score out of 10 in the Technology category of Blogged.com

    This is quite an achievement!


    http://www.blogged.com/directory/technology/22



    We evaluated your blog based on the following criteria:



    * Frequency of Updates

    * Relevance of Content

    * Site Design

    * Writing Style



    After carefully reviewing each of these criteria, your site was given its 8.3 score.

    We've also created Blogged.com score badges with your score prominently displayed. Simply visit your website's summary page on Blogged.com

    Click on the "Show this rating on your blog!" link underneath the score and follow the instructions provided.


    Please accept my congratulations on a blog well-done!!


    Sincerely,


    Amy Liu
    Marketing


    [END QUOTE]


    Blogged.com just launched, to much critical acclaim, in February 2008. It didn't take them long to find Vaspers the Grate, probably due to my large followings in multiple social networks.



    Mashable had a post on Blogger.com "More Than Just Another Blog Search Tool?"


    [QUOTE]

    There are a number of blog search tools out there that help you find content across online publications, like technorati, which aim to bring you real-time content on a variety of topics, but Blogged.com is more of a catalog that offers information on the entire blog and its overall content.

    [END QUOTE]


    Also see:

    SEO Chat article on Blogged.com

    Monday, April 28, 2008

    location based social network danger


    Location-tracking social networks. Location-based blogging. Seems like your pal Vaspers is the single voice speaking out against it. Just wait until a news report makes the danger a mainstream item of outrage.

    "You let your daughter sign up for a location-tracking social network?" they ask, astonished. "Why did you let her do such a risky thing?"

    I'm deeply distrustful of A Listers and blog pundits who rally to support every new thing, without questioning it. They are irresponsible shills, hyping crap just to be popular, hip, and early adaptor.

    Everybody's all hyped up about BrightKite, the new location-based social network. It reminds me of last year's frenzy about Plazes. Plazes automatically displayed your location every time you hooked up with a wifi connection.

    Check out how, about a year ago, the CEO of Plazes got busted lying, by his own social network! On TechCrunch "Plazes CEO Busted by His Own Product".

    http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/06/03/
    plazes-ceo-busted-by-his-own-product/

    Location-based blogging, or "presence sensing" social networks, let people know exactly where you are, what you're doing, and who you're with. You may have some control over privacy, but most users act ecstatic about letting everybody know where they're at.

    There seems to be a Super Transparency craze, where people have become digital voyeurs and exhibitionists. The ideas of solitude, contemplation, and privacy are becoming antiquated. This is quite dismal, thinking of all the forces and organizations who wish to monitor and control people.

    It's not a healthy trend for individuals, but it's good for surveillance.

    Predators, stalkers, rapists, kidnappers, and domineering husbands will love it.

    Young women and children are endangered by it.

    Here are two comments posted at a recent blog post, "What's Up With Friend Location Tracking?" at Social Times blog, trumpeting the glories of location transparency as offered by Loopt:



    [QUOTE]


    1. Jonathan Kleiman Says:

      Microvision is going to come out with sunglasses that will tell you who your friends are in a group of people. It’s years down the road, and it depends on the inevitable integration of GPS into social networking. I don’t mind as long as its easy to turn off when you want to go dark.

      It’s pretty amazing actually. To me it really feels to me like an inevitable step in social networking.

    2. theregoesdave Says:

      I think that location presence is the big evolution that we’ll see in 2008. Hopefully Fire Eagle will provide good support for their API and a developer community will rally around it.

      You can actually see my location and latest post or status on my blog or Google gadget. I like to think of it as location-based blogging.

    3. Gaeyia Says:

      Funny that most social media users/consumers grew up in the “stranger-danger” era. Whenever I encounter new tech like this, my first instinct is to fear the stalker potential (especially as a young female) … but then, inevitably, I become intrigued and my curiosity overrides my concern.

      Generally speaking, I feel safe. Almost MORE safe now that I am linked in to a broader network of people. I have to believe that my connection to others provides a new form of protection.

      Do you know if there are any stats re: increased/decreased safety due to social networks? I would like to see :)

    4. vaspers aka steven e. streight Says: Your comment is awaiting moderation.

      Location-based social networks are dangerous, especially for women and children. Why on earth would you want just anybody to know where you are all the time?

      The advantage to users is nearly non-existent and the advantage to predators, stalkers, enemies is huge.



    [END QUOTE]




    Now here's some good advice from Loopt on how to be safe while using it. But I doubt that young people will pay much attention. They're caught up in the frenzy, hype, and peer pressure. At least Loopt is trying to keep it safe for users by posting this.



    [QUOTE]


    Safety Tips


    1. Only add friends to Loopt who are really your good friends.

    Loopt is a closed network meant to be used with good and trusted friends. Who's a really good friend? Ultimately, that's up to you to decide, but here are a few questions to ask yourself about potential Loopt friends:

    * Do you have their phone number?
    * Do you know where they live and where they grew up?
    * Would you loan them your car?
    * Would you give them your keys to feed your dog or water your plants?
    * Would you feel comfortable knocking on their door just to say 'hi'?


    2. Confirm the phone numbers from your invites.

    Always double-check that an invite was sent from your friend's real phone number. If it's a web invite, check that the phone number on the invite matches your friend's number.


    3. Know who can find you.

    Use your location information responsibly. Loopt is built to let you control when and with whom you share or hide your location. You can always control who can find you, and who can see the location of your journal entries.

    You can do this from the web or the mobile app. The icons at the top of the mobile app serve as constant reminders of whether all your friends, some of your friends, or nobody can find you.

    On the web, you can check who can find you on the Homepage, My Friends and Settings. If you want more information on how to change your location sharing settings, visit the FAQ.

    4. Use your journal responsibly.

    Think carefully about whether to share the location of your journal entries with your friends, and remember that your journal entries reflect upon you. Please make sure not to post any offensive content. For details on how to hide your journal location, visit the FAQ.


    [END QUOTE]

    Sunday, April 27, 2008

    vaspers interviewed by 49 Media






    This 49 Media interview with Vaspers was conducted quite a while ago, in fact, I can't quite recall what I was wearing at the time. The year was 2005.

    Chris Ritke asks me questions about basic blogging, blogology, web sites vs. blogs, deconstruction, blog history, definition of "blog", Internet2 vs. Commodity Internet, the Interplanetary Internet (InterPlaNet), astral blogging, and related topics.

    InterPlaNet
    http://www.ipnsig.org/

    This historic educational event has helped untold multitudes to relinquish their old fashioned ways and embrace the blog revolution. Without a blog, you're nobody. That's the reality of today's world. If it's not digitized and on the internet, it doesn't exist.

    Thursday, April 24, 2008

    some aspects of cult leadership







    Cults fail due to bad marketing practices.

    To say that your group has the ONLY truth, the ONLY way, and all others are satanic, or stupid, or invalid...that's bad marketing. No product would sell if presented that way. "This car is the only vehicle that can provide transportation"? "This restaurant has the only good food in the whole world"? See how silly that sounds.

    Why should belief systems be any different from any other product?

    Cults self-destruct via many avenues. Arrogance blinds the leaders. Since they permit no criticism, they receive no helpful feedback, and they do whatever they want, which eventually backfires.

    Recent example: if a cult lets the media film their compound, and there are no toys, no books, no TV or radio, but lots of photos of the cult leader everywhere, that's a huge mistake. That little tour of the cult's facilities just proves that mind control is happening there.

    Mind control is excessive influence of one person over another, for the controller's benefit (thought it's usually presented as "helping" the chump). Dominating another person is a sadistic act to begin with, and all subsequent cruelties stem from that original impulse to subjugate someone else. Controlling personalities are everywhere: in families, offices, clubs, romantic relationships, schools.

    Bullies take great pleasure in hurting and humiliating others. They are misanthropic: haters of other human beings. Cult leaders, tyrannical husbands, dictators of nations, malicious police officers, slave-driving bosses, and egotistical friends who criticize you, but accept no criticism of themselves -- these personalities are all cut from the same cloth.

    It's "command and control": the opposite of debate, exploration, discovery.

    This is why the internet, particularly forums and the blogosphere, represents a serious threat to cults, totalitarian regimes, and con artists. People now can investigate, not only companies and products, but also persons and groups, and discover what others have to say them.

    Comments that have the most credibility are the ones that seem balanced, rational, not overly emotional, not bitter or hateful, objective, with no ax to grind, specific, and a bit inarticulate. Why "inarticulate"? Because a spontaneous remark, dashed off in a hurry, by a sincere person is often awkwardly worded, whereas a carefully devised statement tends to sound more like PR, advertising, or cult indoctrination.

    You teach your children survival skills, right? You teach them how to talk and walk and be polite. You must also teach them how to protect their mind.

    Protect their mind! If you capture a person's mind, and dominate all their thoughts, that person no longer has a soul, no longer has a distinct individual existence. Once a person is totally dependent on a group or leader, and will not question them, that person is in a very vulnerable spot. Who knows what they'll be forced to do next?

    Blind obedience can result in genocides, group suicides, and other tragedies.

    Children must be taught, by their parents, how to detect and resist cults.

    Thinking independently begins with being curious. Who wants to be a mere parrot, just repeating what everybody else says? You take something that is said by your mom, dad, pastor, priest, teacher, best friend...and you ask "Is that really so? Could there be more to it? What does the opposition say?"

    To surround yourself with people who agree with you is the mark of an insecure person, which is what domineering persons are. "You must hate what I hate, or I'll hate you," is the unspoken, hidden engine driving those who wish to dominate others. "You must love what I love, or at least never speak ill of it. If you don't mirror me, I shall destroy you."

    Curiosity is the key. You eventually get sick of having all your opinions and beliefs shoveled into your mind like sludge. You wonder: "Is this really the ONLY valid viewpoint?" You get interested in learning how an opposing view is presented, what it's based on, and if there might be a little kernel of truth in it, something you can learn.

    I read once that a form of Buddhist training is to teach young monks every other philosophy and religion first, prior to teaching them any Buddhist ideas. The students are taught, in a non-hostile manner, what other belief systems teach, so they can discuss issues with non-Buddhists in a friendly and educated manner.

    Practically every belief system has elements that are either true, or valid, or are counteracting some excess in another belief system.

    One can be against war, but sympathize with those who join the Army from a desire to defend and protect their country. That is a noble impulse and should be encouraged. But to think that all wars are "just", all military commands must be obeyed even if they violate the Geneva Convention, and military action is the only or the best solution, this is very lopsided and narrow-minded thinking.

    If you can't question a human leader or institution, that entity is authoritarian, totalitarian, and misanthropic.

    One of the best things you can do for a child is teach him or her how to be "different", how to question their peers and leaders, how to despise popularity as a way of reinforcing a flimsy self-esteem.

    You can find a lot of good information on cults, brainwashing, and indoctrination on the internet.

    The Cult Test provides 100 aspects of a cult, with explanations and examples. Here's a sample. It's a bit long of a quote, but the material is well presented and reasoned.




    [QUOTE]



    1. The guru is always right.

    ....

    In cult after cult, the leader is just the greatest thing.

    "Ultimately you cannot admire the guru, you must worship him."

    If you have any doubts about whether the cult worships the guru, just ask a member, "What are the 10 biggest mistakes that the guru made in setting up the organization and formulating its doctrines?" True believers will give you a look of horror and insist that the guru has never made any mistakes... "The very idea is unthinkable."

    There is one big disadvantage for the guru when the cult declares that he is perfect -- he has to act that way, and at least do a good job of faking it.

    If he is found to be stealing all of the money and screwing all of the girls, it can hurt his believability. A few cults have a clever work-around that spares the cult leader from having to be perfect: Somebody Else, like a dead saint, or an angel, or Jesus, or the Virgin Mary, is the perfect one, and the cult leader merely "channels" the Perfect Master's messages.

    In that way, what the leader says is still unquestionably true and unchallengeable, because it comes from a Higher Power, but the cult leader can indulge in all of the pleasures of the flesh himself without creating a contradiction.

    After all, he never said that he was perfect, or any more holy than anybody else. He is just more attuned to the Higher Spheres, and able to hear the Voice of a Higher Power... Oh, and of course the received messages will suit the leader's whims.

    Suppose, for instance, that there is a cute young woman whom the leader fancies, but she has gotten involved with another male member of the group. Well, suddenly the Angel or Ascended Master is criticizing that other fellow for indulging in base desires, and telling him to knock it off and have nothing to do with women.

    Then, when the cult leader jumps on the same young woman, the Ascended Master has no criticism of him... Funny how that works. You can use your own imagination to dream up another dozen similar tricks.


    2. You are always wrong.

    The individual members of the cult are told that they are inherently small, weak, stupid, ignorant, and sinful. Cult members are routinely criticized, shamed, ridiculed, discounted, diminished, and told in dozens of ways that they are not good enough.

    This cult characteristic is sometimes expressed in the infantization of the cult members: They refer to the leader as "Father", while he refers to them as "my children."

    Cult members are also told that they are in no way qualified to judge the Guru or his church. Should you disagree with the leader or his cult about anything, see Cult Rule Number One. Having negative emotions about the cult or its leader is a "defect" that needs to be fixed.

    A corollary to this rule is the practice of lowering members' self-esteem by a variety of methods: Elders or higher-ranking members will berate the newer members and tell them that their work or their spirituality isn't good enough. Again, the beginners are abused by the guru and his henchmen until they reach the inner circle, at which time they can turn around and do it all to someone else who is just beginning.

    It is almost a universal cult characteristic that, in the opinion of the cult leader and other elders, newcomers cannot think correctly. They are too "new", or "unspiritual", and they haven't been members long enough, or they haven't prayed or chanted or meditated long enough, or they haven't been off of drugs and alcohol long enough, or something... It's always something.

    Members will criticize themselves and confess all of their sins and faults, sometimes engaging in public self-criticism or confession sessions. This is used by everybody from Maoist Chinese Communist groups to Christian cults. Sometimes other members will attack them and criticize them in "group therapy" sessions, or Synanon games.

    Members are taught not to trust their own minds or their own judgement:

    Your thinking has been corrupted by sin.

    Your judgement is no good.

    Your thinking is no good.

    Your mind is no good.

    You have a criminal mind.

    You have an alcoholic mind.

    You need a complete make-over.

    Your thinking is controlled by your addictions.

    Your thinking is controlled by your sexual desires.

    Your thinking is controlled by Satan.

    You haven't been chanting or meditating or doing yoga long enough to have a clear head.

    You haven't been off of drugs and alcohol long enough to have a clear head.

    Members are taught not to trust their own motives: Your motives are no good; everything you do is just for yourself. You are selfish, vain, egotistical, self-seeking, and always trying to get your own way. You are just seeking ego-gratification. You are lazy. You are always trying to do things the easier, softer way. You just want to get laid. You just want to get drunk or high. You just want to avoid the hard work of getting right with God. You just want to be happy.

    Members are taught not to feel their own feelings.

    Steven Hassan wrote

    Since mind control depends on creating a new identity within the individual, cult doctrine always requires that a person distrust his own self.

    Combatting Cult Mind Control, Steven Hassan, 1988, page 79.



    [END QUOTE]

    Tuesday, April 08, 2008

    bands with free mp3s on Last.fm



    Bands who are enlightened, generous, and kind. I'm far more likely to buy commercial record store product from a band that I like and that distributes free mp3s of entire songs to fans.

    WARNING: Many mp3s "expire" in 24 hours, so if you download some songs, you better burn them to CDs quickly.


    Bands with FREE mp3s you can download on Last.fm:


    Built To Spill

    Archers of Loaf

    If Thousands

    Up, Bustle and Out

    Merzbow

    Black Moth Super Rainbow

    Love Battery

    Yo La Tengo

    Thot

    Bacanal Intruder

    Young Galaxy

    Mount Eerie

    Ejaculation Death Rattle

    Sufjan Stevens

    Burning Star Core

    Destroyer

    Plastikatela

    Half Japanese

    AIDS Wolf

    Sawtooth Grin

    Glis

    Ayria

    XP8

    Shearwater

    Cap'n Jazz

    Jets To Brazil

    Fat Tulips

    Love Spirals Downwards

    Channels

    Brighter Death Now

    Kultur Shock

    The Essex Green

    Drive-by Truckers

    Ordo Rosarius Equilibrius

    Deutsch Nepal

    Orchid

    Coffin Break

    Indian Summer

    Castanets

    Lint

    Chandal

    Mad Lee Riot

    Moss Icon

    Paul Lansky

    Luciano Berio

    Charles Dodge

    Xiu Xiu

    Phosphorescent

    Frog Eyes

    Morton Subotnick

    Alvin Curran

    Davenport

    Xenis Emputae

    Terracid

    Autechre

    Toecutter

    Enduser

    Asyncdrone

    Siblings

    Silencio

    Sappho

    Underwater Radio

    The Oslo Deadtrash Project

    Stasola

    The.Dithering.Effect

    Foundation Hope

    This Will Destroy You

    Gifts from Enola

    The Samuel Jackson Five

    Joy Wants Eternity

    Scraps of Tape

    The Tangent

    Ellen Fullman

    Otomo Yoshihide

    Mark Ribot

    Art Ensemble of Chicago

    Sun Ra

    Bardoseneticcube

    Illusion of Safety