Delighted to announce a collaboration with @safomusicgroup and @masrecordsuk to take my music doc Smalltown Dreamers hosted by my rapper alter-ego @spitfire_bars, to the next level.
First edition coming at you THIS MONDAY 8pm on IG:TV, as well as on my YouTube channel.
For this pilot episode, I’m serving up not 3, but 4(!) aspiring female singers who are students on the @masrecordsuk program, hosted by @safomusicgroup in the Big City of #londonisavibe
Stay tuned for artist posters this weekend, so you can check out these talented singers pursuing their dreams in the Big City, before I drop the episode 8pm on Monday, right after @spitfire_bars weekly 7-8pm livestream.
Having been preaching the gospel of Big Tech Evils since 2018 it was tantalising to see how much more impact one can acheive with Netflix money.
The use of the blended fact & storytelling makes this the most compelling and powerful effort anyone has done to dent Big Tech Social Media’s reputation.
That said, I have two major critiques:
1). Too keen to give positive platform to the bad guys.
Roger McNamee preaching social equality… please. Probably more annoying than the suits were actually the ‘awoke-bros’: case-in-point Tim Kendall.
The film needed them, but it also needed (badly) some actual young activists.
I mean are young people really gonna fk with Jaron Lanier telling them to quit everything all at once?
I pointed out to him how advocating a week would be a better place to start at Chicago Humanities Week (..where he was on stage because he doesn’t need big socials for a platform unlike anyone under the age of 30).
2). Not enough positive & constructive specifics on what the humane tech would look like.
I don’t know if they held back to make room for a sequel :crossed_fingers:
But as well as giving nonjudgemental mention of such minor league mediocrities as Pinterest & Reddit, they could have done well to specifically name some actually positive social technologies! I mean if it’s a dilemma, there needs to be an option right?!!
So let me take the time to recommend:
Mastodon, Micro.Blog, Signal… and many more… basically anything green on LaurenceWarner.com.
If you want to fight big tech socials, don’t go cold turkey: take breaks & gradually slide over to better ones.
It’s harder work, but it’s our responsibility to get this right.
P.S. thanks to k4rtik & @BhargavVader for putting me onto this.
To celebrate getting IMDb Pro to manage my new page IMDb.me/Cerulean, I’ve decided one Amazon account is enough, so I’m moving my personal account to a better product: Letterboxd.com/Seerulean (get it?!)
Taking the opportunity to temper my youthful exuberance with a cheeky 1 star downrating to everything, though, I’ve had to make special dispensation for “Freddy Got Fingered”:
Though my average rating was 6.8, already a half-star lower than the average IMDb rating for the same films (probably part reversion to the mean as I biased my film selection towards overrated top 250, part projecting single-mindedness), I want to bring it down to center nearer the midway point of 5.5 by taking 1 star away from each.
This is because I want to approach Letterboxd ratings as relative to my watch habits.
So let it be known: if a critic gives your film 2.5/5, they genuinely are saying your film is worse than the average film: they had just sat through A Tyler Perry sequel, the third film in a Marvel spinoff & an experimental Polish film and decided yours was, on balance, sub-par.
All I’m saying is that its worse than the average film that I watch. And these days, I’m generally not putting myself through Spy Kids & Dude Where’s My Car, more so Doctor Zhivago, Singing in the Rain, so don’t feel bad next to them!
Please take a quick peek at my ratings (especially lower ones) and let me know if you think there’s any I should nudge back up to their previous (now relatively higher) position:
I’m looking at you films with realistic depictions of struggle or love, which I know doubt underappreciated in my teenage years:
looking at you: Silver Linings Playbook, Whiplash etc.
(Update 20th Nov) Curtis & I have gone separate ways. Continue to direct promo queries to Hype@CeruleanSounds.com.
As it says on my page, I “founded Cerulean Sounds Productions as a vehicle for increasingly ambitious collaborative sonic projects.”
As a concept double album, Smalltown Dreamer LP is an ambitious debut album and my most ambitious sonic project to date.
I’m so grateful to everyone who has collaborated thus far on the Beast-side - including repeated contributions from fam including Lyd Tha Vid, The Account and of course MC Royale - but as we go into the A-side recording, then distribution, then touring phases, we need more consistent collaboration, especially on the promotion front. Which is why I’ve sought a Marketing Apprentice.
“It’s great to know that there are other people here, in Eastleigh, that want to achieve great things. I found MC Beastly’s first music video, Swan Centre, a few weeks after it came out and thought about the potential MC Beastly had so I chose to see what else would come from this persona. Now I am here, working alongside Cerulean, to help support the Smalltown Dreamer and to showcase my own skills as a photographer, videographer, and editor. It is great to officially be part of Cerulean Sounds Productions and I am thankful to have such an amazing opportunity like this”
Activism is what drives my best artistic endeavors. I list ‘local culture & community” as the second of three causes I actively promote, and the one most relevant to Smalltown Dreamer(s).
Though this project could take us deep into the music industry and wide around the country, I’m proud that it will be propelled by Smalltown folks who are the hardest hit by Covid’s disruption to the entertainment industry.
Curtis is an ideal candidate to help promote Smalltown Dreamer LP, as he himself embodies that persona, of which my rapper alter-ego MC Beastly is an exaggerated version, based on reconnecting with my teenage years growing up in Eastleigh, where I find myself again living year-round for the first time in nearly a decade, since I left for college.
As a matter of fact, as a college student - studying film & acting, as well as developing Photoshop & Video Editing chops - Curtis in many ways picks up where I left off, which is probably why he connected so much with the Beast-side music videos, and was such an avid promoter of them as “MC HypeBeast”.
You can reach Curtis@CeruleanSounds.com (or the permanent Hype@CeruleanSounds.com).
Your smalltown dreamer,
(Master) Cerulean (Born Eastleigh)
1). Some people have it easy. The rest of us have it Eastleigh. #SmalltownDreamer
3). Circus architecture, a tent on stilts, was born of thrift & necessity by PT Barnum, as depicted in @greatestshowman.
Now its makeshift airiness is again proving useful, as cheap & chearful circus shows like @zipposcircus play to half-full crowds, who fully love it: e.g. see my fellow quick clothes changer Steve get a 5* from @telegraph ’s Dominic Cavendish (he thought it was Dominic Cummings lol).
All #ShotOnflipPhone during the taping of the #LondonIsAVibe Music Video for @spitfire_bars.
As @cdevroe recently observed: “GoodReads isn’t very good. This only interpreting ‘good’ for a UX perspective.
When, like the bookworm you are, you consider all the different meanings:
ethically good, such as isn’t run as a data harvesting arm of Amazon, the world’s most efficient surveillance capitalism outfit every built
or good design, such as has been thoughtfully curated in a way that an author would be proud of with a novel
or good for humans to use, like uses humane design principles, like Finite in terms of building small social networks that are replicated in the real world.
When you consider all those meanings of the word which GoodReads claims in its title, you realise it’s even more Not Gooder.
In fact so not good, that we really need an alternative.
Big focus on replicating GoodReads style without Amazon:
So suffers many of the same shortfalls:
Functionality: it’s in beta so still getting there. I like the html tags .
Ethical: Growth business model (“Join for Free! What’s your business model? For two years we’ll obfuscate and then mercilessly sell your behaviour change yay!!”)
40k free users, 5k weekly engaged. The sort of growth which gets you NewStatesman articles.
Design: no effort to make a gorgeous, luxury experience.
Humane: For example, main focus is on Recommendations. This means it falls into GoodReads inhumane design faults. Constantly teasing you with infinite possibilities, rather than focussing on enhancing the experience of reading the book you are reading now.
Also, less focus on privacy. I.e. all reviews are automatically published publicly.
I can’t adjudicate on who copied who’s logo.
But, as I’m fortunate to be one of the private beta testers, I can adjudicate on whether it is good:
Functionality: big focus on social note-taking of the reading experience.
I have requested switch from page to chapter based logging, which also solves problem of comparing between editions.
Ethical: Emily & co. are exploring a subscription-based freemium model.
Design: so gorgeous. I mean: just check out their landing page.
I have recommended they experiment with a visual UI of a bookshelf, to give it a tactile feeling.
Humane: most important aspect.
Knowing Emily and her journey, she runs an awesome brainy bookclub in Chicago, and she is trying to replicate the book club experience online (their original idea was a book club management software).
Hence, she’s less interested in ItalicType allowing you to build vast networks of virtual peers who can book-shame / overwhelm you with recommendations, but rather allow you to share a communciation space with a small number of (presumably) real-life connections.
If you’re one of mine, and are interested in reading any of my recent reads, hit me up for a beta invite. I’m now syndicating my brief reviews to the ‘Arts Books’ Topic here, but here’s a snapshot of my recent reads:
Engage: Have you spent more time trying out StoryGraph? Are you aware of any other promising competitors? Do you wanna stick up for Amazon GoodReads?
Send me a link to your article or email@example.com and I’ll append your comment!
Jordan’s a fellow rap/singer-songwriter on the SAFO Music Group Solo Artist MAS Records program this year.
He already stands out: he recently played a rare live gig in London 👏, and in our first songwriting session he wrote & performed quite an impressive track with another artist.
Now he’s just dropped this debut EP across streaming: (e.g. Apple Music).
Had to much of your fam this lockdown year? Jordan O hasn’t. He paints a beautiful sonic painting with tight bars and gorgeous melodies about his closest ties.
6- ‘Red Eyes’
Man it’s a shame you didn’t add lyrics on this.
Soo good, so confessional, reminds me of a Kendrick Lamar self-analytical track, e.g. ‘Instituionalised’, ‘luv’. I vibe with using songwriting as therapy, though I’d always advocate real therapy too.
Also, neat A$AP Rocky style deep voice. Curious what button to twist on a DAW to acheive that on a vocal?
1- ‘Family Portrait’
It appears that this is a concept album where each song is directed toward the numbered person in the artwork. It seems to me that the numbering actually starts after this title track, because to me this one seems universal, both to Jordan’s whole fam, but also a track I and others could apply to our own families. Such a gorgeous comparison between a family and music.
2- ‘One and Only’
Compare: ‘Never Went to Church’ by The Streets
Pretty sure this is about Dad, which makes me think the artwork number 1 refers to this, and number 2 refers to:
After spending lockdown glued to this year’s competition, my brother Ben & I have just stuck our hat in the ring for a 2021 BGT audition under the name “Beastly Boys”.
I’ve taken my CompSci Master’s and create a model to predict it.. it’s very complex and is driven by Big Data
lol jk it’s an average of 5 factors, and I pull the star ratings out my arse (except magic where I defer to my “Magic Contributor”, Alessandro Rubini- a brilliant performer I was lucky enough to be a goofy Magicians Assistant to at a Chicago improv comedy house).
I’ll be updating this live on Saturday:
1). At 8pm I’ll make sure I have all 5 public voted acts, in case any unexpected put throughs (I’m looking at you Bhim Naroula). So far I’ve just made sure to include the bookies top 10:
2). It’s known that final night performance has outsize importance. So we’ll have two fields for relative Final Night performance: one from me and one from Ben.
And just in case people think we’re being unnecessarily glib and inhumane by giving them arbitrary stars.. they went on BGT. And we hope to next year. And to show our commitment to the dehumanising talent show process, we’ve even rated ourselves to see how we might fare!
So here it is:
As it stands on Friday, I’ve got the favourites on 4/5 as:
1). Magical Bones
My concern with Mr. Bones is whether he peaked too early in the semis. Be aware our final night rating is relative to their baseline talent in their field. It’s well-documented that finishing well is key in BGT. I suspect we’ll give him a 2 which will bring him back to where the bookies think.
Magic Contributor, Alessandro Rubini agrees, though he thinks Aidan McCann is the other magician who has a shot at victory if the public vote gets him to the final.
Would be crazy if the winner wasn’t in the studio though!
2). Sign Along With Us
On the other hand if the public carry them through (which I suspect they will), they should be favorites to have a relatively strong show, especially if they can get more in the studio, to justify their place as the bookies new darling, since Beth Porch just dropped off their radar (what happened there?! She was odds on favorite until the semis. I’ll post again about how the bookies may have got it so wrong.)
Think you can improve on the model? I’ve allowed folks to copy or sync (to update with our updated data) the AirTable!
Edit (10pm vote closed):
Ben & I have rated our final acts.
We felt Nabil & Jon raised their game the most.
However, my model only gave final night 2/7 weight (it probably should have been more), and doesn’t bias later acts like them, especially Jon, so they failed to join Sign Along & Magical Bones who held their 4* ratings as our top 2, though to break the tie our official prediction is the one of them we felt turned up stronger on the night…
Beastly Boys 2020 BGT Final Prediction:
Sign Along With Us
So much great promise: features competitive with Bitly (less so Rebrandly) Basic paid tier… and it’s free.
It’s ad-funded… but presumably not enough, because the founder Patryk doesn’t seem to have the incentive to make necessary product improvements.
- Changing root & 404 redirect for custom domains.
- free namespace for each custom domain’s alias
- ability to change the destination of a branded link
On 4 separate occasions over the past 6 months he’s promised features by a date over email and not delivered, so here is his 2* review as promised.
If this is an indie web product, he should go for a transparent low cost payment model (like micro.blog) and actually deliver on features.
Edit (Oct 13th):
Hacking some of those features:
Changing Root Domain:
Host your domain with Cloudflare, and use a Forwarding URL Page Rule on the root domain.
Thanks to a decade-old blog post for the recommendation.
Change destination of a branded link:
You change the url alias / name of the original link:
and then the original branded link is available to be directed towards the new destination in a whole new link.
Thank you to PNP Events, in particular for your efforts to adapt the show to new Covid-19 guidelines to help make Christmas 2020 happen. 🤞
Since I was initially cast in September, I decided to try growing my tache early to make sure I could.
Given that it’s in November, I thought: the universe is speaking: combine it with Movember!
Social movements like Movember inspired me to share my FirstWeek FlipPh.one Challenge with my friends.
Although social media can be distressing, and at its worst deadly, it can also be brilliant when there are positive causes to shout about like Movember!
Given my extra time I’ve set myself the target of £100, so please do head to the page and donate!
Finally, even if the show does get cancelled, I’m glad to say my casting website at least still believes I can make a sustainable career in the performing arts.
Thanks to StarNow for recently endorsing me with Pro status!
It’s certainly not the easiest year to be launching a career in the already competitive field of entertainment, but support like this really helps.
When I got back from the US, my Mum kindly got me second insured on the family car, and we used it for the early MC Beastly shoots.
We decided this whip deserved a whole video of its own, but my (ever frugal) Mum decided to switch car insurance to an ultra-bduget option which didn’t insure young skallywags like me.. halfway through our filming dates.
I don’t blame her: at least she’s got money to save. As Jon Stewart said “creativity comes from limitations not freedom”. We got creative. And I’ve been riding BlueStar Buses ever since.
In all seriousness, my financials could be in better shape, so if you’d like to support me making these videos, then other than hitting Subscribe on YouTube to help me get to (1k subs) monetization level, you could do the following:
Turns out there IS a reason to use terrible #SurveillanceCapitallism apps… they often #payout in #classaction suits down the line when society finally realises how terrible they are.
Following my Google+ claim, I’ve now come across a similar one for Facebook: www.facebookbipaclassaction.com though it’s geographically specific to having lived in #Illinois for 6 months+.
Seems legit (Tribune report), not having https suggests it’s actually made by genuine lawyers rather than tech savvy hackers ha!
Otherwise, as long as you posted 1 profile picture or were tagged in 1 pic, you’ll be good, because the ‘bookies already done some Frankenstein-style stuff using #facerec tech.
What’s amusing about this for me, is that I specifically got myself a new bookie profile when I moved to the Chi, and posted a profile picture to promote my parody Facebook profile.
It formed part of my “This is what my face looks like” personal project, to take the mickey of… face rec tech. You couldn’t make this up.
I thought it was a voluntary art project, but apparently the bookie are gonna bankroll me to the tune of hundreds of dollars.
Friends from Chicago: have a go and let me know you’re results by linking back to this post in a future socials post!!
Deadline Nov 23rd.
P.S. time to go power use every single TikTok feature..
1 - Mail: Divested Gmail. All custom domains with Proton. All email out of Apple Mail Mac OS. Next: Reverse engineering Superhuman features in Mail.
2-4 - YouTube Vids: biggest MC Beastly release yet: ceru.li/silverlak… Next: channel trailer to take us to YPP (1k subs).
5 - Prod. ‘SilverLake’ in Logic. Next: Decide whether to pay for renewal in Aug.
As a multi-disciplinary entrepreneur have a more diverse audience set than most.
Possible to use Micro.blog as like a mother-ship to post multiple strands of feeds?
e.g. 1). Arts start-up. Posts added to blog for that site: blog.ceruleansounds.com. Syndicate: Twitter.com/ceruleansounds.
2). Tech/education start-up. Tech added to blog for that site: blog.agileEducation.co. Syndicate to Twitter.com/vv4rner etc.
A). only allowed one custom domain blog.w4rner.com.
Cheap idea: Redirect blog.ceruleansounds.com to blog.w4rner.com/categorie…
B). Limited to 1 syndicated account per platform?
Of the settings, these are the two I’m still trying to decide on: 9. Junk Mail filtering: use Apple’s as well as Proton’s? 10. Split address mode -> every IMAP account that you set up with the Bridge is address-specific, and will only be able to send/receive emails from the address it is set up with.
Why I’m putting The World’s Most-Wanted App on pause
On my Fulbright researching technology addiction, I started a campaign to #GetPhoneSmart, a journey of re-evaluating your digital life which is best bugan by following Cal Newport’s advice to do a Digital Declutter. My team at the University of Chicago invented a version the kids would find fun: an Insta-braggable communal challenge to flip to retro tech called FirstWeekFlipPhone!
Though the challenge is now on pause (until we find the right mental health charity back in the UK to partner with), one of the core insights shared by our Detoxers as well as Cal’s is that Instant Messaging (IM) can be a huge mental burden. E.g. see this young musician describe the weight a week off took off his shoulders.
In HumaneTech’s brilliant DesignGuide, Attention is one of the key human sensitivities that empathetic tech should be designed to respect. In our age of communications overload, this is more important than ever.
Email as The Backburner… Rise
In the 18th Century, all they had was text. Scientists estimate around 2/3 of communication information to be conveyed in body language and another 30% in vocal tone, meant it was very difficult to convey rich information through text.
Perhaps that’s why Elizabeth & Darcy played mental mindgames of “he thinks that I think that he thinks” over the days waiting for letters in response.
No surprise that Victorians were overjoyed at the invention of the telephone, because it was instant, and you could use your tone of voice to convey meaning. I’ve drafted a categorisation of modern modes of communication into richness:
But back in text-only land, we shouldn’t expect much. IM is messy because there are no clear cues. Conversation, like all improv, would not be possible without being able to look up at your partner and know when they’ve stopped speaking (which is why IRL is further along the scale than a Phone Call). Like the video here, people are spending hours a day in the mess of IM timing misfires. And that’s just with a 2-person IM. Think of being a thoughtful introvert in an 8-person Group Chat: the irrelevant side-chats are excruciating.
In an internet of infinite possible conversations, prioritisation becomes key. Separate your communications into those which need an urgent response and those which don’t. I send email to signal that I don’t expect a response for 1 or 2 days, whereas I expect one within hours on IM. Batching should be encouraged with email. Like the morning letter writing session in Jane Austen’s time, you deal with messages efficiently with minimum context switching. Search means that in the rare case you need to access a message more urgently, you can find it.
Email as The Backburner… Fall
Apple Mail iOS started it. The combination of notifications which made receipt faster, and an ingenious marketing ploy (‘Sent from my iPhone’) which excused sloppy writing; the Mail app became just another IM. Or should I say, a worse IM. It’s neither secure — nasty hackery like domain spoofing is relatively simple whilst we’re still using SMTP — nor private — ProtonMail and Tutanota aside, email (read ‘Gmail’) is not encrypted, so the text can be readily scanned, as they flagrantly are by email clients like Edison and ReturnPath. Even Facebook, bowing to competition from the brilliant Signal, took a surveillance capitalism hit and adopted their encryption protocol in 2016 for WhatsApp, putting it ahead of email on privacy. So it’s this mediocrity that the average American spends 5 hours a day wallowing in!
Superhuman: “rebuilding the inbox from the ground up” — the missed opportunity
Clearly it needs rebuilding. But does Superhuman do it? It’s a third party email client for Gmail — much like Edison Mail on steroids — with some brilliant features drawn from Gmail extensions, like Boomerang’s return, Yesware’s read-receipts and their very own Rapportive’s intrusive social media feeds. And aneven more ingenious marketing ploy from the Veblen playbook (‘Sent using Superhuman’).
But the one simple feature they chose not to build: (Boomerang’s) Inbox Pause. It’s not hard to do in a simple fashion: a custom label applied to all incoming email to put it in a searchable corner. Sure it could be done smart, and perhaps one day Superhuman will (after a full year of lobbying, through my Trello feature tracking) they eventually said in August 2019 it was coming ‘this quarter’. 7 months later.. still nothing.
But I don’t want to spend more time in email. A productivity tool is meant to help you spend less. So I kicked back up Boomerang, and started suing Inbox Pause on top of Superhuman (a bit like jumpstarting a Ferrari with a Robin Reliant).
To their credit, Superhuman have a legitimate monetization strategy, one they would recognise in Jane Austen’s time — actually charging people for the product — meaning they may not need to practise the data harvesting that Edison do, they have still made no strong privacy commitments (except specifically on location tracking after a public outcry), and one imagines their recent first Analytics hire has access to some pretty… interesting data.
So I’m going to stop paying $30/month for a hacky solution, until either: a). $30 is small change to me, like for many Superhuman scions: VCs, CEOs etc. b). Superhuman follow the HumaneTech DesignGuide more closely
Meanwhile, I’ve trialled switching my custom domains to ProtonMail Plus (starting with firstname.lastname@example.org where you can hit me up directly with feedback). It’s been a brilliant experience. They have developed an encrypted Bridge to AppleMail (though I’m still trying to decide whether to connect them together or separately). I’d also consider FastMail (though are there any native desktop app integrations, and is it any more secure than Gmail?).
I’m still tied to some Gmail and a G Suite. If you’re there you may as well make the most of it with the integrations. Boomerang’s Inbox Pause comes for free, but I still need the core feature for which they are named. Unfortunately they don’t serve their $5 Plus product to G Suite users; so I’m looking for another 3rd party which does a good ‘Remind Me’ / ‘Snooze’ integration. * EdisonMail let you turn off use of your data (but they still scan them seemingly). If you trust them enough, they’ve just released an awesome Mac app (here’s the referral you need to get in). * MailButler have a $9 product for AppleMail. Anyone used it?
Superhuman does well, because many people are sick of the tech mantra: “If you aren’t paying, then you are the product”. Unfortunately, Superhuman proves that you can still be the product when you pay (a lot).