Hello, world. I’m MacDara Conroy, and this is my blog.

Date: May 2004

Movable Hype

It’s been a busy time on the web this week, what with all the commotion about the Iraqi prison abuses and the allegedly hoaxed photos and the Nick Berg tragedy and all.
But enough about that; what’s really gotten the net nerds’ knickers in a twist is the recent announcement that the latest version of Movable Type — the software that powers this very website — will cost them money.
Now to be fair, I can see the argument from both sides. On the one hand, the new price makes upgrading my own version of MT quite expensive — too expensive for me, on my limited means. For software that’s been available free of charge for so long to suddenly cost €60 is a bit of a jolt, and unlike what Jason Kottke says here initially, the fact that it was free up until now is not irrelevant. Say, for instance, cab rides in your town were free. Then one day, the cab company hikes the fare to 60 bucks a ride. Wouldn’t that piss you off?
Like Kottke states a little later in his piece, I feel that Six Apart — the company behind MT — has misjudged the new pricing structure. While my website only has one author (hiya!) it is comprised of five separate weblogs — too many for the new, and newly hamstrung, free version. To upgrade, keeping the format of my site as is, could cost me over €80 a year, which is just plain silly, considering I have no pangs for new-fangled features and such.
On the other hand, the people at Six Apart are running a business in a capitalist society, and therefore have every right to make money from their product. They did all the hard work in the first place; we just took the product and used it. Though some might like to believe that MT is somehow _their_ software — as if they made it themselves, just because they used and supported it — they’re unfortunately, but nonetheless completely, wrong. And whining about it is just selfish and pointless, especially since no one is forcing us to upgrade.
Did you get that? If you don’t want to upgrade, then don’t!
Take, for example, that same cab company I described earlier. The company hikes the fare to 60 bucks a ride, but only if you ride in one of their snazzy new cabs. However, if you’ve been a loyal patron, you can still ride for free in their older, grottier, but still reasonably comfortable carriages. I ask you: which one would you choose?
While I would prefer if the new pricing was fairer to the little guy (hiya!) I’m quite happy with my present version of Movable Type, and I’ve got no impetus to change it. I don’t need anything more than I already have, so I won’t be shelling out right now for something that would barely count as an improvement. And frankly, I don’t see why anyone else would, or should, too. So nerds of the world, please, untwist your knickers.
Update 15/05: Six Apart have posted a clarification in response to the overwhelming criticism from the blogosphere. It seems most of the commotion was caused by the folks at Six Apart getting their definitions wrong: when they say ‘weblog’, they mean a single domain powered by Movable Type which could be comprised of many weblogs — so sites that run on a single domain (like mine) and are made up of multiple weblogs (like mine) can upgrade to the free version just like in days of yore (woohoo!). A bit of a public relations boo-boo to be sure, but there’s no real harm done.


Remembering Carthage

Joi Ito comments on the late Edward Said’s introduction to the revised version of Orientalism, extracts of which were originally published by The Guardian last summer:
> Basically, he argues that the whole notion of the “Orient” or “Orientalism” is a body of culture, academic work and politics that tries to identify the East as “them” in terms that have evolved through Western imperialism.
To be more specific, in Said’s own words:
> Think of the line that starts with Napoleon, continues with the rise of oriental studies and the takeover of North Africa, and goes on in similar undertakings in Vietnam, in Egypt, in Palestine and, during the entire 20th century, in the struggle over oil and strategic control in the Gulf, in Iraq, Syria, Palestine, and Afghanistan. Then think of the rise of anti-colonial nationalism, through the short period of liberal independence, the era of military coups, of insurgency, civil war, religious fanaticism, irrational struggle and uncompromising brutality against the latest bunch of “natives”. Each of these phases and eras produces its own distorted knowledge of the other, each its own reductive images, its own disputatious polemics.
So the Western conception of “Orientalism”, according to Said, has been a long time in the making. But could it have been even longer?
I ask this because, after watching Carthage: The Roman Holocaust, a fascinating documentary on the Roman destruction of the North African empire of Carthage over two millennia ago, I’m drawing parallels between the contemporary Western view of all things “Oriental”, and the vicious propaganda (and blatant rewriting of history) employed by Roman politicians to demonise the Carthaginians and their culture in the eyes of Ancient Roman society — which is, of course, the bedrock of European civilisation, and in turn, contemporary Western culture.
Maybe Said was too generous to the West in starting his line with Napoleon?


Jumping On the GarageBand-Wagon

Though there was a lot that I didn’t get around to doing during my visit to South Africa (I’ll make up for that next time, which will only be a few months away) one of the many things I did do was purchase some extra memory for my trusty eMac. In fact, I managed to triple my RAM for what it would cost me here to merely double it. Sweet.
But that’s not the whole story. While it’s wonderful to have my computer zipping along with nary a problem, I really only invested in the memory module so that, just like every other Apple-using weblogger on the planet, I could play around with GarageBand, Apple’s new so-easy-to-use-it’s-crazy music recording and sequencing software.
And of course, just like every other Apple-using weblogger on the planet, I can upload my GarageBand noodlings for the world’s listening ‘pleasure’, like this one, a short funk-rock workout I have entitled Initial Experiment.
Feel free to offer any criticisms, constructive or otherwise.