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Blog

On Joining a Social Network

Sean Wright

I've just joined a new social network. Let me just say: Allo to Ello. You can find me there under the usual moniker. 

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A few moons ago, I bid adieu to another social networking platform. Part of the reason was the stance that that network had taken towards matters I hold dear: privacy being front-and-centre of those. Part of the reason being the drain that so many of the connections had on that most precious of resources, namely, my time. 

For a while—and to get my fix of social networking, something that has become more and more widespread in the intervening time since my departure—I toyed with joining Google Plus to connect more widely with some people. I decided against it, as it became more and more apparent that some of the reasons I had disliked Facebook had infected that network as well.

In the intervening times, there have been blogs, Instagram and ten-thousand tweets (I swear I just blinked and I hit that figure) amongst some of the mainstays, such as Flickr, which resolutely refuse to die. 

And now: I say Allo to Ello. It is an interesting experiment, a manifesto that seeks to differentiate on ideological grounds from the competition. I, for one, welcome it: the panache that the Google catch cry "Do no evil" has been betrayed. It's not that I necessarily think Ello is the "one ring to rule them all"; quite the opposite in fact: I don't expect it to stay true to its' manifesto, declarations or hostage-taking. More clearly, it is part of a greater realisation that privacy is not incompatible with the idea of sharing, networking or gossiping.  We have always had the choice to drown in the noise and participate in circuses and circles of our choice. Now we have a growing momentum that people are prepared to try new things and vote with their feet in terms of how they live their online lives. 

With so many people apathetically to having their own distinct webspace, social networks and microblogs offer the chance to participate beyond the boundaries of say, e-mail, or the big providers. This sentiment shows that as much as monetising and the corporatising of platforms, there are innovative disruptions just over the horizon that may yet compete for our valuable time. And to my mind, that is a very good thing—I say Hello to the death to complacency. 

Leonard Cohens' 'Popular problems'

Sean Wright

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The problem with reviews of Leonard Cohen albums is the tendency of reviewers to try and use unnecessary hyperbole: if it's good, say it is good and move on. The majority of critics do not have the writing skill to inject praise in a way that doesn't seem too forced, too clever. Invective and destruction however, is a different story (think every second Pitchfork review). 

Besides this, I feel compelled to add myself to the no-doubt chorus of praise for the new Leonard Cohen album. My only caveat is that it is short, too short to fill the necessary longing of the listener to hear the art of Cohen.

'Sublime' and 'Genius' will be two of the words tof praise hat reviewers will lavish on this album. And, admittedly, they fit the lyrics and music like a thief in the night. In the recent documentary '20000 Days on Earth', Nick Cave talks about how songwriting is about counterpoint: a lesson he probably learnt from listening to Cohen's early albums (think Avalanche). And it is the sublime accompanying of the music to the precise lyrics of Cohen that form the work — akin to a bronze cast and the bronze. There is a proximity that fuels the songs; they go further than if they had been amped up for the listener. This, perhaps, is the guidance that Sharon Robinson has brought to the table with her ongoing collaboration with Leonard Cohen. 

No better does this hit you is than the first track: slow. Cohen's perfect album 'Ten New Songs' fostered this approach (Note: I'd defend this opinion out in the street). Long gone is the speed-driven ecstasy that was 'I'm your man', and the confused message in the bottle that was 'Dear Heather'. Cohen has hit his straps, and those straps are befitting the weary, aged warrior poet. The scars are celebrated: the voice beyond the ridicule that was poured on it in the past. 

And on the subject of lyrical genius, Cohen is content to let the precision take place front-and-centre. New ground may not be broken, but the mischievous poet of the days of  'Let us compare Mythologies' is ready to give himself up for our voyeur-like gaze. We are richer for it, and we will long for more: one more album, one more book. Leonard is Eighty, and if this is the last piece of work—and I sincerely hope not—it would be befitting as a key work of the journey of a blues artist, going down slow with synth, jawbone and banjo in his back-pocket. 

Do yourself a favour and buy the record when you're next at you're favourite store. 

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Apple & the Watch

Sean Wright

Remember the announcement of the watch. The watch is the takeaway and game changer, more-so than the fluctuating size and functionality of iDevices...It is the the argument that “wearables”—that God awful phrase bandied about—can cut through to the masses and embed technology in a way more closely than before. More personal than before, always on your person.

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