January 10, 2005

the stars are gonna spell out the words to tommorow's crosswords

* Long, interesting Wired interview on Bit Torrent and its creator Bram Cohen. excerpt:

"Cohen knows the havoc he has wrought. In November, he spoke at a Los Angeles awards show and conference organized by Billboard, the weekly paper of the music business. After hobnobbing with 'content people' from the record and movie industries, he realized that 'the content people have no clue. I mean, no clue. The cost of bandwidth is going down to nothing. And the size of hard drives is getting so big, and they're so cheap, that pretty soon you'll have every song you own on one hard drive. The content distribution industry is going to evaporate.' Cohen said as much at the conference's panel discussion on file-sharing. The audience sat in a stunned silence, their mouths agape at Cohen's audacity.

"Cohen seems curiously unmoved by the storm raging around him. 'With BitTorrent, the cat's out of the bag,' he shrugs. He doesn't want to talk about piracy and the future of media, and at first I think he's avoiding the subject because it's so legally sensitive. But after a while, I realize it simply doesn't interest him much.

"He'd rather just work on his code. He'd rather buckle down and figure out new ways to make BitTorrent more efficient. He'd rather focus on something that demands crazy, hair-pulling logic. In his office, he roots through his bin of twisting puzzles and pulls out CrossTeaser, an interlocking series of colored x's that you have to orient until their colors line up. 'This is one of the hardest I've ever tried,' he says. 'It took me, like, a couple of days to solve it.'"

* Sasha Frere Jones on rock and aging. excerpt:

"Rock bands, like people, are living longer. U2 entered its twenty-sixth year by releasing a new album, 'How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb,' in November. Adding to the band’s aura of durability, a special black-and-red U2 edition of the iPod, the trendiest of accessories, was released in conjunction with the album. At the age of fifty-seven, David Bowie completed a hundred-and-twelve-date tour during 2004, survived being struck in the eye by a fan’s wayward lollipop, and underwent heart surgery. And at sixty-three Bob Dylan is sometimes on the road for as many as twenty weeks a year, more than some musicians a third his age.

"The audience and the press have aged, too. Responding with a sympathetic eye to the spectacle of so much rude life, critics sometimes forsake professional dispassion for cohort cheerleading. Dylan topped many best-of lists in 2001 with his gnomic blues-rock album 'Love and Theft.' U2 is enjoying positive reviews for 'How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb,' which sounds like one vigorous, catchy single—'Vertigo'—surrounded by a lot of well-meaning, ambient warmth. The recorded pop canon has a cruel tendency to move forward on the music of fearless newcomers, but live performance gives veterans a chance to even out the score. In 2004, many of the best shows came from older groups who—perhaps owing to experience, new sobriety, humility, or all three—improved their repertory through performance, in ways that their juniors can’t."

* The Wren's are finally coming to DC and will be playing Friday February 11 at the Black Cat.

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