Sunday, September 12, 2010

Social Networking

Yesterday I spent most...okay, all... of the day bumming around the house.  I had some specific things I needed to do, but ultimately ended up detoured around in various places on the Internet.  Ultimately I ended up purchasing some mp3s from amazon.com.

It is what I bought from amazon.com that started my mind on the subject of social networking.  As you all know, I'm not really a facebook kind of guy.  However, there are a couple of things I've been doing that actually brings a positive light to some of this.  Among these is the idea that I stumbled upon two musical artists simply by messing with my TiVo and looking on YouTube.  One of these people I mentioned before, and that was Sayaka Alessandra.  The other person, who I hadn't mentioned until now, was Stephanie Strand, who performed two songs I have come to like a lot:  Gutters & Drains and New Friend (I also like her animated short, Battle of the Media).  Now, not knowing anything about this person, I wrote her on facebook a while ago because I was interested in knowing how she did a few things in her animated video and got a nice response.  I happened to look at some of the things she was talking about and her interests and that made me take some pause, as there were a number of things we had in common.  Being over 20 years her senior, I figured that the idea of further contact was probably going to seem a bit creepy these days, and so I left things as they were, and walked away saying, "Hmmmm.  There actually are some people who would probably 'get' me."

Get this at amazon.com
Fast-forward to yesterday when I noticed, quite by mistake, that both Sayaka and Stephanie have some of their music for sale as mp3s on amazon.com.  That's when I realized that these social networks actually did have a positive result, and they weren't just places for people to post their every move as if we were all interested in it.  If it weren't for my stumbling upon these two young ladies on YouTube with my TiVo, there were two talented people who's work I would never have known about.  Without their being on YouTube or similar, probably nobody else would have either.  Here are two people armed with talent and a computer, and who were brave enough to share their artistry with the rest of the world, who touched my life as well as many others.  While I had already converted Gutters & Drains into a mp3 from the YouTube video, I thought to myself, "For 99 cents, I really need to buy the mp3 and support her efforts."  I remember buying 45RPM records in high school and college for a buck with the knowledge that the artist was some person who I would never know at all, never mind have any other connection with whatsoever.  Wow.  Things have definitely changed.

I'm not sure that this has given me any reason to bring my brand of opinion to facebook, nor am I going to pretend that now I'm somehow hip and that I'm into all the stuff the kids are into.  Nah, I'm still the grumpy old mad computer scientist that I always have been.  What is different is that I can see that among all the frivolous use of the Internet and social networking that there is something more that is serious in a good way.  All artists like to say that it's all about the art, and not about the money.  Now, without the need for expensive publishing and distribution, it actually can be all about the art.  Most artists won't be able to quit their day jobs, but if it really is all about the art, then at least they can share their work without breaking the bank.  That is a good thing.  Art (including music and literature) is a reflection of ourselves and the culture we live in.  It is our entertainment.  It allows people to express themselves and share their ideas with others.  While science and technology are critically important, art is what allows expression of our humanity.  It is artists like Sayaka Alessandra and Stephanie Strand that give me hope that there is still significant humanity left in humans and things are not all going to hell in a hand-basket.

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