Posts Tagged ‘internet’

Alex Tapscott
by Alex Tapscott
Tue Dec 23rd 2008 at 10:23am UTC

N-Gen Music: Mash-up Mania

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008

Warning: If you’re over 30, please proceed with caution. I mean it. This may upset you.  I just caught wind of a 28-year-old musician who goes by the name of ‘Girl Talk’ who is ‘sampling’ The Band, The ‘Stones, R.E.M, AC/DC, and Aretha Franklin, and mixing their iconic sounds with the likes of 50 Cent, T-Payne, Gwen Stefani, and Bubba Sparxx (who!?)

Listen here.

Because he (Girl Talk is a he) started his own ‘independent label’ he thinks he can basically do whatever he wants! No royalties, no fees. And his album is basically free! His website says, “Pay whatever you want.” And he encourages YOU, the listener, to use and sample his music. This internet-driven model threatens to bury the whole record industry!

Here’s another way to look at Girl Talk: as an artist and as an MC, but not in the traditional sense of the word. He has no records, no turn-tables, and no CDs. He has a laptop. That’s it. Girl Talk is commonly described as a mash-up artist: someone who takes the vocals from one song and the instrumentals from another and mixes them together into a new, unique sound. Think The Beatles’ The White Album meets Jay Z’s The Black Album to create Danger Mouse’s The Grey Album. But Girl Talk takes the style to a whole new level. 50+ samples in one four-minute song are not uncommon, and he mixes his massive database of music at live shows in real time on a plastic wrapped computer. Because his samples are so short, nothing he does is illegal according to “fair use” copyright law in the U.S.

I believe Girl Talk’s music is a metaphor for my generation. His songs, which sample from Roy Orbison, Queen, Nirvana, and T.I., to name a few, require a very broad musical knowledge to be fully appreciated. N-Geners today listen to a lot of music and can give a wink and a nod to the clever way older songs are used. Even if they don’t know those songs, odds are many kids will go online and discover them afterward.  OK, kids listening to and/or learning the greatest rock/pop songs of all time. That’s a good thing.

On the other hand, his music can be construed as the ultimate symbol of our short attention spans and our obsession with short, easy-to-digest sights and sounds (think Sneezing Panda on YouTube). One could argue that digital technology has left us incapable of focusing on a good song for more than a few minutes (so let’s jam 50 samples into one track instead!), and Girl Talk is my generation’s answer. OK, that’s a Bad thing.

Girl Talk understands his target audience. He knows his music will be widely disseminated online, for free, before he has the opportunity to release a CD. So he embraces an open, online platform for his music where payment is optional:

“I think what we went for seems like an obvious game plan now, just because as soon as it hits the internet, anyone…can get it for free if they want to. So why not tap in and let them actually take a step back and think about it, and maybe offer some money?”

Get the whole interview with Pitchfork Media Here.

In this open and collaborative model, more money goes directly to the artist (and not a major label), he fosters good will with his fan base, more people get to hear his sound, and as a result he attracts a wider audience to live shows. I think this is a good thing.

This last question depends on your perspective. Some of his mash-ups take important songs out of context and use them only as a means to an end. How would you feel if he mixed Sam Cooke’s powerful and spiritual ‘A Change is Gonna Come’ with the vacuous and asinine ‘My Humps’ by the Black Eyed Peas just to get a ‘cool’ sound? In this regard, his music can be construed as not respecting the wholeness and message of his songs. I’m not a music critic, so I’ll stop there before I start sounding foolish, but I encourage you to share your thoughts.

Alex Tapscott
by Alex Tapscott
Thu Dec 18th 2008 at 3:21pm UTC

Net Gen Floods the Workforce: Place Influences Choices

Thursday, December 18th, 2008

I’m a member of the Net-Generation, people born between 1978 and 1997. At first glance, my cohort seems tailor-made for a decentralized and “flat world,” so we shouldn’t care so much about the place where we work. After all, the internet, like no other technology, has lowered geographical and temporal barriers for communication and collaboration, and N-Geners, like no other generation, are the most comfortable and capable working, learning, and communicating online. Case in point: I recently found myself collaborating on a project with two college pals on Skype (the free online video phone application): one in Palo Alto, California, the other in Alaska, while also chatting and sharing photos with a friend who was in an internet café in rural Vietnam.

However, while technology has lowered barriers and allowed people all over the world to participate in the global economy, it’s a mistake to suggest now that ‘place’ is no longer important for today’s emerging creative workers. Indeed where one works matters now more than ever.

Whether interested in finance, law, politics, computer programming, consulting, or medicine, young friends and colleagues of mine are drawn inexorably to the epicenters and major nodes of their respective fields; in cities, suburbs, and exurbs that also happen to score very high on the creative class index. This is certainly true for my friend in Palo Alto, a city straddling the area between San Francisco and Silicon Valley. He is a talented computer programmer working for an internet start-up. But what about my friends in Vietnam and Alaska, you ask? Did Google just open a server farm in Juno? Is rural Vietnam the new Silicon Valley? Why do your friends want to live there? Truth is they don’t.

My Alaska friend was working for Mark Begich, a Democrat, who defeated the incumbent Senator (and convicted felon) Ted Stevens. If ever there was an appropriate time to say “got out of there like a bat out of hell,” Jeff’s escape from Alaska after the big victory was it. Jeff is passionate about politics, and he is now in Washington, D.C. looking for full time work. Truth is he would rather struggle for a little while in D.C. than be instantly employed anywhere else. After all, every politically engaged young person he and I know wants to be in the U.S. Capitol and, as a result, a burgeoning social scene of smart, creative, and ambitious young people has flourished there. Dave, my friend in Vietnam just graduated from McGill’s School of Management and is wandering Southeast Asia barefooted and bearded trying to ‘find himself,’ but really he’s just on vacation. Like me, he will soon find himself up to his elbows in financial statements and spreadsheets. He is returning to Toronto to work at a boutique private equity group. Jeff was drawn to the epicenter of the political world. Dave, a former business student with an entrepreneurial streak, will return to Toronto- Canada’s financial capital, because he knows the city offers great opportunity for a person with his interests (it also helps that he is a die-hard Leafs fan). In both instances, the where did not merely influence their decisions, it determined them. If anything, their stints in Alaska and Vietnam simply reinforce the notion that the Creative Class, and young people in particular, travel and move throughout the world with increasing ease.

Though not identifying it as the “Net Gen” specifically, Richard Florida presciently foresaw the emergence of a new generation of the “Creative Class” in The Rise of the Creative Class, a theme that has surfaced in ensuing works. His experience interacting with students at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Mellon University revealed that young people are drawn to certain hubs, crowding together in thriving and diverse places where like-minded individuals share lifestyles, cultural tastes, and work interests. While the moniker ‘Creative Class’ is not generation-specific, by 2018, when all members of my cohort will be of working age, the Net Generation will, simply put, dominate the creative class. As Boomers retire and Generation Xers fill the ranks of senior management, there will be an overwhelming demand for these young, highly educated people. Attracting them to companies and regions where they can thrive and prosper will be the next great imperative for today’s corporate leaders and politicians.

I encourage everyone to share your thoughts and opinions with me.  If a conversation begins, I will be happy to engage in it with you.

Wendy Waters
by Wendy Waters
Mon Sep 1st 2008 at 8:08am UTC

Technology and generational change

Monday, September 1st, 2008

The only thing [McCain] is going to let [Palin] do in the White House is teach him how to use the Internet.”

- A comment on McCain’s nomination of Sarah Palin as his vice presidential running mate

A generational shift in corporate leadership positions is one reason why workplace change is accelerating. The wartime generation (McCain’s cohort) along with the older Baby Boomers have generally retired or stepped away from the day-to-day management of large numbers of employees.

Meanwhile, younger Baby Boomers and older members of Generation X have taken over. They understand the Internet, a range of business software applications, the power of mobile computing, and the need to both collaborate and, at times, separate oneself from the office in order to think through issues clearly. Many have developed a love affair with Blackberries and similar devices that allow more mobility.

Today, I believe that there is much less of a generation gap in the workforce than 10 years ago, especially when it comes to technology, and despite what some other workplace writers say.

Here’s an example (supplied on the condition that the company not be publicly named): In a specific division, almost all employees were offered the chance to become mobile, and trusted to work when and where they needed. Or, they could retain the status quo – a private office or workstation depending upon their job. The majority chose mobility.

But what’s interesting is that 1/3 were Generation Y; 1/3 Generation X; and 1/3 Baby Boomers, and this is roughly the age breakdown of that company.

Those who resisted losing an office tended to be workers of any generation who had only recently been promoted to a position with a private office. Those who had their own office for a long time seemed to prefer the idea of working from home occasionally, flexible hours, and being able to sit “where the action was” within the company.

And technology is just one area where the workplace has changed. Management hierarchies have also tended to flatten and company leadership at middle levels is often more fluid, with people switching roles from time to time. Higher productivity in knowledge-based work typically requires employees to feel inspired – a difference from more service-oriented work in which hiring more people or insisting on longer hours would increase output.

Each workplaces is, of course, different. All of this may (or may not) be irrelevant at the White House.

Do you perceive a distinct generation gap where you work? Or is the gap along different lines?