This is what I use to listen to 5live on a Saturday afternoon and it illustrates my favourite feature of the iPhone and the iPod touch - the external speaker. It's so nice to be able to stick a podcast on and wonder round the house during chores with it in a shirt pocket, like a transistor radio. There are times you don't want to be wired to your device, you don't want the wires in the way, you don't want your ears blocked and you don't want to be that focused on what you're listening to. You want the sound less centre-stage. And lots of podcasts work better like that, slightly recessive in the attention in the way you'd listen to radio, rather than slapped in the middle of your head where earphones put them.
Actually, that's be a good brief for an augmented reality app, talk to me from off-stage, don't demand I stare at you the whole time.
Noticin.gs is a new game from the Tom Tom Club (not that Tom Tom Club, I made a joke). It's splendid, you should look at the about and the blog to see what is the what. It's the beginnings of something really interesting, embedding a game in the world, that you can play in lots of different ways.
What I particularly like is the way they're developing it; as an ad hoc build-up of rules and gameplay from a really simple initial premise. It's just the way I see Arthur and his friends make up games. They'll come up with some simple thought, some world they want to be in - I'm Wolverine, you're all space marines - and just start playing. Rules come along when they get bored, or some unfairness needs to be squared, or someone else turns up and fancies being Wolverine. And some of the rules work and some don't. Some get unruled or revised and some are baked in. And usually, by the end, it's just too arcane and complex and it all falls apart. Presumably though, sometimes, all the rules work and it adds up to really excellent fun and that game sticks and lasts and becomes something timeless like Lurky. But if it doesn't, it doesn't matter because good fun has been had on the way.
Noticings reminds me of that, we'll start playing, we'll see what's fun or interesting. Rules will be added, or taken away, something might emerge, it might not, but fun will have been had on the way.
I've always been more interested in sound than songs. When I fall in love with a bit of music it's because it sounds completely unlike anything I've ever heard before. It could be the whole record or it could be a little moment.
David Hepworth talks about something similar here - about how the genius of a record isn't the 'soul' or authenticity of it, but the about the way an idiosyncratic musical choice makes something that pops, something distinctive and sticky to the ear.
And Andrew Bird writes here (via Sippey) about the details of that pursuit, about the tiny technical decisions that go up to make a record sound distinctive and special or, "hijacked by someone else’s record collection".
Before the 80s my musical development was pretty linear - Disney - The Wombles - Max Boyce - Prog. We watched Top of the Pops of course, but I didn't like most of the things on it, especially Punk things, it seemed too silly and cartoonish, like the wrestling on ATV. I was a serious school orchestra boy and I liked my music engineered, not slapped together. I think my favourite musical idea was that picture of Pink Floyd's gear all nicely laid out, from the middle of Ummagumma. It looked so precise and perfect.
This was further solidified in 1980 or 81 when my parents blessed me with a Sony TCS-300, the first recording version of the Walkman. It meant I could borrow albums from people and listen to them on my paper-round. I eagerly copied the Pink Floyd Nice Pair compilation, Wish You Were Here, Dark Side Of The Moon, Animals. All onto those orange BASF cassettes. I think that first experience of listening to music, loud, in my own head, while walking around, was the single most astonishing and magnificent moment of my life. (Obviously apart from love, marriage, parenthood, friends all the stuff you're supposed to like more.) It is of course, taken for granted now, but back then it was a miracle.
(with book for scale, that thing is huge)
So my first moment of musical transcendence was probably at 14, listening to Shine On You Crazy Diamond, leaning on a fence as the sun came up over a Derby housing estate, waiting for the van to arrive with the papers. This was the first moment I had a soundtrack beamed into my head, making the world seem more significant, the music made everything bigger, more meaningful. (It didn't hurt that The World About Us always used Shine On as the soundtrack for wildebeest on the Serengeti, it made everything spacious and portentous.) I'll never grow out of that. Technology and music had ganged up on me, I was 14, I stood no chance.
When you develop a new theory suddenly the world is full of evidence to support it. (There's probably a name for that.) So with my whole Blogging Again is the new Not Blogging As Much As I Did theory the odd quote has stuck out it's leg for me to trip over. Such as this one, from an interview with Clive James in July's Word magazine.
"...one of the things the web can do is register the complete mentality of someone who's lived quite a while. It really can. And young people can't do that."
Mr James is certainly doing that, his site is becoming an enormous archive of his various activities and I think that quote gets at one of the things I'm realising about the power of blogging, it's not just the immediate hit of communication, it's the slow accumulation of ideas and expression. The archives, the permanent links, the searchability. That's why there's value in ploughing on. Not just for now, but for later.
I know that's probably obvious. But anyway.