Friday, February 27, 2009

2.26.09 SIT ON MY FACEBOOK



I’m taking a powder for this month’s CRUMBS Night Out but I wish I could be there. My regular co-host attorney Paul Czech is just back for the Midem music conference in Cannes and will be leading a bodacious panel talking about the State of the Music Industry. Joining Paul will be our pal, Philadephia mega-music attorney Bernie Resnick, local music legend (producer, composer, player, chef, bon vivant) Gary Tash and recording studio owner (Schenectady’s The Recording Company) Tim Lynch. What a freakin’ panel! And on top of that there will be a set of music by the flirting-with-the -big-time teenagers Stuck on Stupid. This is at the Linda on Central Thursday the 26th.

And now for something completely different: last summer I met violinist / electronic musician Todd Reynolds (Bang on a Can, Meredith Monk, Yo Yo Ma’s Silk Road) at a party in Pittsfield. He seemed like a cool dude so I invited him to be a guest on my radio program, The Splatto Festival, on WBCR-LP in Great Barrington. He said sure, after the summer. A month or so later I introduced Todd to ace percussionist / sound designer Ed Mann (Zappa, a bunch of solo albums, a lifetime of major session work, etc.); Ed and Todd decided should play together sometime and I suggested doing it on my radio show. They said sure. I figured that adding my pal free-jazz saxophonist Dave Barrett (Splatter Trio, No Sisters) would make for a nice trio so I asked Dave to join the fun. Then master bassist Michael Bisio happened by and I invited him, too. So, last September 19th, these four prodigiously talented and crazy musicians all met for the first time at WBCR-LP studios in Great Barrington, and, after introductions and small talk, improved live on the air for 90 magical minutes. It went so incredibly well and was so much fun that they decided on the spot to form a band, The Splatto Festival Chorus, named after my radio show. The SFC will be at the Sanctuary for Independent Media in Troy this Saturday for a concert and CD/DVD recording session. 8 PM. Bring your good ears and be prepared to be knocked out. You can download the September broadcast at my radio blog splattofestival.blogspot.com. Scroll down.

I’ve received a barrage of inquiries about this whole Facebook terms of use debacle that just happened. I’m usually all over this stuff, and I’m an avid Facebook user, but the fact is I’ve been on vacation with my brain turned off in the middle of Mexico for the past week. From the hysterics I’ve heard it seems like a combination of out-of-it weenie lawyers, corporate stupidity, consumer paranoia, and a social networking paradigm everyone is struggling to get their minds around. And that’s just about right.

From what I’ve read (and remember, I’m on vacation, so I’m reading quick), Facebook was trying to get it’s terms of use to comport with reality, i.e., when someone leaves Facebook and takes down their page, that someone’s footprints will be all over Facebook: there will be posts to friends’ sites, photo’s tagged on friends sites, stuff all over the place. That’s the nature of social networking. Facebook tried to change the terms of service to say that when you leave Facebook, these footprints will remain, and you acknowledge that. Facebook will still have some of your stuff.

Of course, the new terms of use were stated in dense legalese, with over-broad terms that could be interpreted to mean that Facebook was suddenly claiming that it was glomming all your stuff for any purpose forever. I mean, the new terms were ridiculous.

Oops! The outcry was loud, not terribly well-informed, but effective nonetheless. After some statements that sounded like “well maybe that’s what we said but it’s not what we meant” corporate double-speak, the threats of lawsuits, and the formation of a bunch of Facebook groups proclaiming a revolt against all things Facebook, the new terms of use were rescinded and the old ones put back in place. The Facebook powers-that-be are now saying that new terms will be developed in collaboration with the Facebook “community,” last pegged at something like 175 million users. Good luck with that.

Whether this was much doo-doo about nothing or not, it actually proves, once again, the brilliance and vibrancy of social networking structures. Word gets out, gets discussed, and things happen on these sites will incredible speed and power. Sometimes information is exaggerated and imprecise, just like in the real world, but the truth eventually comes out, just like in the real world. Except so much faster, so much bigger, and so much more effectively.

There was in reality little real harm that some corporate entity was going to steal your stuff. If that started happening there would be such an exodus from Facebook that the company would collapse overnight. But some loose language was fixed, some uncertainties clarified, and a company was corrected. Virtually overnight.

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