Monthly Archives: January 2012

Social music


Having been socialised into a society that worships the ???0??? I???m using a small anniversary to ponder social music. Just as we celebrated the arrival of the year 2000 with fireworks (and fears that it would kill our computers and bring planes out of the sky), so I noted my 60,000th ???scrobble??? to This site tracks the music that you play, from iTunes, Spotify and other sources, getting to know your tastes so that it can recommend other artists. Registering a track is called scrobbling. You can also stream music directly from the site or the smartphone app, though more akin to a radio station than Spotify???s on-demand offering. I joined up on 14 January 2007 and five years later clocked up the big 6-0 (0-0-0); that???s 12,000 a year; 1,000 a month. The mild obsessive compulsive in me was turning cartwheels last Saturday.

My profile is here. The milestone track was ???The Awakening of a Woman (Burnout)??? by the Cinematic Orchestra, from their score to Dziga Vertov???s 1929 ???Man With a Movie Camera??? ??? here???s the DVD on Amazon.

But why, oh why, go to the trouble of passing all this information to servers, when it???s relatively rare for me to spend much time listening to music directly from the site?

I like keeping a track of the tracks, curating a listening history that stretches back through a variety of jobs, places and social networks I’ve drifted through. Curating is just about the right word for it, for I???ve used to shape my listening, trying to avoid too much of a single artist in too short a time. The milestones are also of interest and I suspect I???ll be trying to keep to a 1,000 a month tempo from now on. But what of the social ??? I haven???t made many new contacts through the site, none that has been sustained through the itself. The key connections are therefore with the unknown, the people who listen to the same stuff as I do and can therefore help shape my listening habits when I ask to build me a radio station: it???s their scrobbles that are powering what comes out of my computer. I suspect few people have sought out my profile, although on occasion if someone asks what I like to listen to I have somewhere to send them.

Google???s Eric Schmidt probably didn???t set the world alight when identifying a ???mobile, local, social??? future for the net (and by extension a lot of other industries and platforms). He still felt the need to make this point in late 2011 though, by which time I would have thought the penny had long since dropped. Thus, keen to show its social side from its earliest days, was??? what, too soon on the scene? It had social baked into it from the first bar of music played.

As you may know of London, UK, was sold to CBS of America a few years back. A few folk made a lot of money, though I fear that innovation on the site has been relatively limited since. There???s a community of developers trying out neat stuff though ??? such as the graphic above. To keep the theme of zeros going I???d say it loooks coool.

Travelogue 18: ‘morning after feeling 15.01.04’

Part two of my New Zealand tales, back on schedule as this was originally sent eight years ago today. Some poetic meanderings about the brilliant wonderfulness of the flora, geology and water cycle are followed by a quick summary of Christmas when you have no one to open presents with. (I managed to forget that I was carrying a Christmas card. Fortunately I remembered on Boxing Day morning… and it was still Christmas back home when I called mum: situation recovered.) Christmas dinner that day was an extra kiwi fruit that went down very well.
The second page is mostly about a trip up the west coast of the South Island. Great for me to read back as I’d forgotten many of the incidents – it’s a spectacular part of the world.
…and with this travelogue posted there is just one to come, in late February. The final line gives a clue to its focus.

morning after feeling by davidjarman

Travelogue 17: ‘elvis lives 08.12.03’

I’ve been using this blog to post some travelogue emails I wrote to friends and families when I was a young, carefree global vagrant. Blogs had barely entered my vocabulary at this point, so I recklessly invaded the inboxes of my nearest and dearest. This particular missive covers the first part of my trip to New Zealand, which lasted a couple of months from late 2003 to January 2004 – a stunning country to which several of my friends are currently migrating, and who could blame them?


If you’ve seen one of these travelogues before you’ll know that I had an aversion to capital letters in those days, possibly a reaction to years of institutionalised essay writing through my formative years. It’s a good job I’m now working at a university and have regained grammatically correct habits.


In this travelogue you will encounter the premiere of the last part of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, a little bit of train travel, a Rugby World Cup final, mild exasperation at hostel life and a hint of Crowded House appreciation. There’s more to come of the latter in the next posting, which I’ll post in a few minutes time.

Blogs for teaching, learning and research: a personal collection

The blog is an established social media tool, emerging in the late 1990s as a way to publish online. A wide variety of organisations have developed ways to create a blog: mostly free, generally making the process easier, with greater flexible and ultimately creating more attractive finished products. Text remains very important to many blogs, though within a given blog post it is also possible to include photos, video, sound recordings, tweets and links to other sites. The basic structure for most blogs continues to work on the sequential addition of these posts – hence their popularity as diaries, or to chart the progress of a project over time. For more information on blogs head the Wikipedia entry.

This particular post is the basis of my short talk at Edinburgh Napier’s programme leaders’ symposium on Thursday 12 January – welcome if you’re sitting in front of me reading this from the screen! There are links below to posts that have been written for different purposes, some by me, that I’d like to talk about. We’ll also look at one written by students for an autumn 2011 module.

Personal blogs for a (semi)public audience

Blogs used in modules

Programme management

The flexibility of the blog format lends itself to use across our work, with many examples of excellent practice publicly available. Some blogging platforms advertise the potential to use their tools in education: Posterous, WordPress and Edublogs for example.

I look forward to your thoughts and questions, either later today or in the comments below.

Image: ‘my first lolcat – in ur blog’