Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Rise of the Amateur

I quite liked the 3 minute montage (script below) about the 90 year history of the BBC commissioned from Damon Albarn, best known as the frontman and primary songwriter of the alternative rock band Blur.  I can understand why it had to be so short. Not sure I understood why it had to be so complex. Many of the elements get lost.

I thought the interview afterwards on Radio 2 in the Science Museum rather lacked passion. An interview which went out on the Today programme was much better.

Update: I embedded the link above but got a lot of complaints that the BBC embedded player keeps starting automatically. So I have removed it. If you want to hear the interview, try this link.

It's clear that Damon knows the station playing the Swedish Rhapsody is a cold war spy numbers station which many shortwave listeners will recognise. Did quite a few programmes about this sort of stuff myself.

The new BBC Listener Archive project is bursting with passionate collectors who understand how to mix and remix the medium like no other. Always better than the professionals, in my experience.

I am equally impressed with what the audience out there is up to with video. There are whole channels dedicated to 'amateurs" making their own versions of movie trailers. Many of them often turn out to be better than the "original".

Have a look at You'll find things like this trailer for the film Pablo, about the life and times of legendary title designer Pablo Ferro. Premieres at the Rotterdam International Film Festival, January 2012

Are these amateurs a threat to professionals? No. These are the new generation of digital entrepreneurs. Learn. Listen and Embrace.
Toy Boats - A Sydney Tilt-shift Time-lapse from Nathan Kaso on Vimeo.

Follow the time codes below for a breakdown of where the different elements for Damon Albarn's piece marking the 90th anniversary of BBC Radio come from.
00:00 Radio 4 broadcasts the chimes of Big Ben – the ‘bongs’ – live every day at 6pm and at midnight.
00:18 In 1922 the radio transmitter 2LO broadcast for one hour a day from Marconi House in the Strand. This audio, recorded in the 1930s, recreates the BBC’s first ever transmission.
00:26 The pop hit of the day, Three O’Clock in the Morning, a waltz by American bandleader Paul Whiteman, one of the first pieces of music played on the BBC.
00:35 The songs of the blackbird and lark are from the British Library’s sound archive – a collection that includes wax cylinders and MP3s.
“Hello future”. The first message in the piece was sent by a BBC Radio 6 Music listener. One of the BBC’s first digital stations it first broadcast on 11 March 2002. The clip is voiced up by Nico, the resident Kid Critic on Steve Lamacq’s 6 Music show.
00:44 The shortwave radio sample is from Freesound – a database of audio that anyone can add to or download from.
Bertrand Russell delivered the first Reith Lecture in 1948. The Morse code is his quote, "Love is wise, hatred is foolish".
00:50 “If time travel does exist...” Will we ever know if time travel exists? Stephen Hawking once held a party for time travellers but no one showed up. This message was recorded by a child at Bath Community Academy.
00:51 Pashto is spoken in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In English the message, sent to the BBC World Service, means “Please destroy all weapons.”
00:59 “We’ll be living on Mars…” At the closest point in its orbit Mars is 35 million miles from Earth. In October 2012 Nasa's Curiosity rover found soil on Mars to be similar to Hawaii's after sifting and scanning its first sample on the Red Planet.
01:07 “Everything is connected”. Kevin Kelly is obsessed with the meeting of technology and biology and is widely regarded as a digital visionary.
01:10 “Keep talking to one another…” Message sent to BBC Radio Cornwall.
01:18 “Proud…” The message sent by a listener to BBC Radio Lincolnshire is in response to London’s staging of 2012 Olympic Games.
Message sent in to the BBC Persian Service from Iran
“I hope 90 years from now, no one misuses religion…” The BBC Persian service has been broadcasting since the 1940s.
“ We can do better.” Message sent from Australia to BBC Outlook on the World Service.
01:27 “I hope it doesn't get too hot...” The Great Barrier Reef is the largest collection of corals in the world. Climate change and pollution are among the threats to this fragile ecosystem.
“Dressed up…” The World Service broadcast the audio of 2011’s election in Cameroon. President Paul Biya retained the position he’s held since 1982.
01:32 “We are all caught up in this rat race…” Message recorded in London.
01:38 “How time flies! Recorded in Nigeria and sent to the World Service’s Hausa language service.
01:47 “Fresh air, woods…” Recorded by a Dane living in London.
01:48 “I think it’s gonna be a bright colour… “ Recorded by a listener in Gwent.
01:58 “I think there’ll be more people…” The global population is currently estimated at around 7 billion. In 2011 the UN predicted it may hit 10.1 billion by the year 2100.
02:10 The BBC first broadcast the Greenwich Time Signal aka ‘the Pips’ in 1924. Each pip is a 1 kHz tone (about half way between musical B5 and C6). This is a rare opportunity to hear them not on the hour since as a rule the BBC only allows them to be used for time-keeping purposes.
02:15 Radio Reunited concludes with a piece inspired by the ‘pips’ that Damon Albarn specially composed which he plays it on piano and glockenspiel.

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