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

Date: July 2011

Notes on New Songdo City

Another epic post from City of Sound, this time on one of the Far East's latest 'instant cities'. It's incredible really, as if someone's literally playing Sim City with the landscape there (cf. Blog All Bookmarked Web Pages: Shanghai Diary). Also: I never realised China, South Korea and Japan were in such close proximity as to make a bridge between them a realistic engineering challenge. Please make that happen. #link

New Musical Experiences

Thoughts from Dan Hill on how we discover and listen to music, and the problems that new technology has brought to the table. He's spot on about metadata and context; even five years on the situation remains mostly the same. (Maybe because most people don't care about these things?) #link

A brief history of Japan’s vintage railways

"Historically, the shape of rail's introduction to Japan and its development into a tourism industry mirrors that of the West. Unlike the West, steam trains have taken on a symbolic strength that permeates the culture... Melancholy, wistful, an image of the voyage and sadness of life itself." #link

No limits to the law in NoLa

"Something terrible lies at the heart of New Orleans - a rampant, widespread and apparently uncontrollable brutality on the part of its police force and its prison service." Surely New Orleans isn't the only example of this, even within the US. #link

Inventing a game

"Once the game is good enough that it can’t be killed, that means it’s too good to be controlled either." #link

Blog all bookmarked web pages: Shanghai Diary

Shanghai Skyline from 492 Meters, by Sprengben on Flickr (CC licensed).

News of the high speed rail crash in China last week (which has raised questions about what some perceive as a cargo-cultish rush into modernity) prompted me to dig up some choice quotes I’d saved back in 2004 from Justin O’Connor’s Shanghai Diary on the City of Sound blog. Seven years may have passed from then to now, and the environment may have changed drastically in the interim – but people don’t change that quickly.

From Shanghai Diary #1:

“The men on the construction site work from 6am I think, definitely before 7am. They wake me up, but gently, the drop of metal and scraping of shovels slowly gathering weight around the dreams and then tugging and pulling and then — you’re awake. They work in the sun but drink tea in the shadows. They work until late. It’s hard to tell when, they’re gradually absorbed into the background. Then the flare of an arc welder reminds you. Last night they were laying concrete at 2am. Nobody opened the window and shouted shut the fuck up you fucking inconsiderate fucking fuckers. I suppose they all lay there, tired, hot, that’s just the way it is.”


Blogfodder linkdump part 7

Last items from the 2006 file:


Lester Bangs' Basement: What it means to have all music instantly available

An interesting argument to make, certainly, but Wyman is wrong: the fact remains that not all music is as available as he supposes. For starters, virtually all of his references are to work generated by mainstream artists! For many of the things I like, I still have to do the internet equivalent of crate digging. And the value in that isn't in procuring things that others don't have. I can only wish I could find all the things he says are so instantly available. #link

Is a 'director's cut' ever a good idea?

Director's cuts are fine if they don't replace the original. And it goes without saying that they only matter where the film is of sufficient quality and the original version was compromised in some fashion. #link

Why You Should Care About Cricket

My 'in' to cricket was baseball (the scoring system and game mechanics are surprisingly similar). That and watching highlights of the World Cup. I couldn't sit through a full day test match. #link

Erase and rewind

On the recent deletion of swathes of content from the BBC website, which will in the future prove to be as shortsighted as the erasing of archive videotapes in previous decades. #link

Blogfodder linkdump part 6

Forgot to post these after the last batch. That was four months ago. Oops. Anyway, some more linkage from 2006:

  • Wayfaring / Web service for creating personalised maps (of walking routes, etc). Completely forgot about this!
  • Tom Coates’ notes on the RCA Summer Show 2006 / I attended the same show and thought I’d made some notes on it, but apparently not! I only made note of Availabot and the Saddlebag (a utility belt for your chair that really should be available in IKEA by now; sadly didn’t note the name of the designer and can’t find her/him on the RCA website).
  • ChucK / “…a new (and developing) audio programming language for real-time synthesis, composition [and] performance.” See also: Real DJs Code Live.
  • In Praise of the Hyperlink / “The hyperlink is an amazing solution to an old problem. That problem is classification.”
  • The Urban Etiquette Handbook / More rules for urban behavior. Some good points here, even if many others are over-the-top (thank-you cards to waiters are a bit much, no?).


How live blogging has transformed journalism

Transformed? I don't know about that. But it's certainly made things more immediate, and works very well for events such as sports as they happen. In that respect live blogs might be the new radio. #link

Stop Lying About What You Do

"I read with continuous partial attention and I don’t care that I am frequently interrupting my own reading. I despise the discourse that says we are all shallow, that we are all flighty, distracted, not paying attention. I am paying attention, but I am paying attention to everything, and even if my knowledge is fragmented and hard to synthesise it is wider, and it plays in a vaster sphere, than any knowledge that has gone before." #link

Curation? What the hell does that mean?

Storyful explains it well: "Out of a fast-flowing river of news, curators are the zen-like bears, sitting amid the chaos, selectively plucking out the juiciest, shiniest salmon and then explaining which bits to eat." #link

‘What I Really Want Is Someone Rolling Around in the Text’

On the future of marginalia in the age of the e-reader. I'm of the opinion that e-books make things easier, especially for people like me who can't/won't write in their books. I'd never highlight passages or scribble notes in a physical copy, but I'd happy do it all day with an e-book (I did it a lot while reading Moneyball). #link

Weeknotes #494-504

April closed out nicely with Knut and Keelhaul playing a free show at the Button Factory. This is what hardcore’s supposed to be! Knut were quite good, if slightly on the hostile side (their vocalist didn’t seem the warmest of chaps). But Keelhaul blew them off the stage with time changes, awkward rhythms and riffs galore. So happy to have finally seen them live.

More gigs in May. Rush at the O2 was what you’d expect it to be: a show. But what a show! Spaceship lights, fireworks, elaborate sets, videos – the whole package. Even if it threatened to veer into Spinal Tap territory at times (mandolin on a stand, anyone?) these Canucks are no dinosaurs; three hours of hits is a breeze to them (it was much harder on my feet).