Friday, August 15, 2003

YOU FIND A LOST BOOK, IT'S PART OF BOOKCROSSING. YOU FIND LOST CDS, AND IT'S TIME TO PLAY PETITE-FREUD: Jogger finds CDs. Blogger psychoanalyses the owner from tracklistings alone. The discovery of music on the street is a wonderful thing, and you can't help but try and flesh out the background details. The CD-find is a lot more common, and easier to work with, than the previous discarded music formats were - vinyl would shatter on contact with the ground, sometimes making a complete label impossible to find, so you'd be trying to work out what the record you'd found in pieces, scattered along the street, would actually be - "It's clearly on RKO, so it's got to be Grease, right?"; tapes would be unwound, mysteriously hanging from telegraph wires or blowing along the street - if you found the casing, it might have been a self-made compilation all along and the chances of making sense of the biro'ed mnemonics would be slim - "it says 'HM/album' - Happy Mondays? Heavy metal?"; you couldn't wind the tape back in and find out. But with CDs, although they're not as indestructable as either we led to believe or Spandau Ballet's Gold, then you've got a chance. Even with a mix CD, you'd be able to pop it into your hi-fi and find out what had been lost, or discarded, or forgotten. (In your hi-fi, mind. Pop it in your computer and chances are you'd have got a malicious copy-protected beast).

Actually, you know, this is something that would be an interesting project - you have bookcrossing, so why not random CD swapping? It'd be like file sharing, without the need for spyware on your machine. Make a mix CD, pop it down on a cafe table, or on a bus; maybe tuck it behind the ear of a statue in the park. Write "Try this CD" on it in pen. You might introduce people to something new. You might find some other CD on the way home that gives you something new. You'd certainly piss off the RIAA and the BPI by doing it, although would copyright law be able to touch you for making a copy of your own, properly-purchased music and then leaving it behind somewhere?

It occurs to us that a while back there was someone - a fanzine editor? maybe a monk? - who undertook a task that seemed madness itself, albeit the sort of madness that is powerful and sexy, which smokes your fags and leads you into bad behaviour. They invited people to send them a mix tape and a stamped addressed envelope. They then mixed up the tapes, and stuck them into random envelopes, and posted them back. It seemed a wonderful idea, and we never found out how well it worked, but if it could be attempted in the days of xerox and dubbing double deck tape machines, in the web-and-CD-R age it should be a breeze. Anyone want to volunteer to be dead letter box?

[Original link nicked from bloggy mountain breakdown]

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