BCN WEEK | Barcelona's Alternative Newsweekly
Vol 1, No 87 | June 10, 2010

FEATURES

Paraguas | nº 95


Low Cost | nº 94


Semilla | nº 93


White | nº 92


Pasta | nº 91


Resaca | nº 90


Porcs | nº 89


Dues Tintes | nº 88


Bytes & Bobs | nº 87


Connecta't | nº 86

Illu: Federico Marigonda /
flickr.com/photos/federicovicentotono




La democracia del mouse

El open goverment y la vox populi en línea

by Manuel de Sousa

¿Maragall? ¿Eso no es un bar? ¿Atenas? ¿Cuándo abrió ese restaurante? ¿No queda en Escudellers? En la Barceloneta, ¿no? No, no, en Nou de la Rambla ¿verdad?

Éstas y muchas más serían la preguntas con las que un desinteresado promedio intentaría persuadir a algún amigo, interlocutor o internauta, para que le brindase una respuesta seria, distante del opiáceo ámbito académico y ajeno al quejumbroso trámite de vivir al margen de la gobernabilidad del Ayuntamiento barcelonés o la veracidad periodística de los medios locales.

En la esfera aún más informal, las conversaciones de taberna, de pasillo de facultad o de sala de espera de organismo de atención pública generan un tono solemne siempre que se hable de actualidad política. Por ende, la democracia griega quedó fuera del contexto público-social hace siglos, no así el cotilleo relacionado con personajes como el Conseller d’Educació de Cataluña, quien recientemente, entre otras actividades, inauguró l’Escola La Muntanyeta, l’Institut Ernest Lluch i l’Escola Els Cossetans al Baix Penedès según reza el titular de un dominio de Internet denominado Diari de l’Alcalde, una publicación en línea “que ofereix informació d’actualitat i continguts que afecten l’àmbit municipal de Catalunya”. Así de inmediato y fácil puede alguien con un sentido común de búsqueda enterarse de la gestión oficial de su localidad. Así de anti- Helénica (según los especuladores y los contribuyentes alemanes de a pie) y de “on line” es la política de nuestros días.

Los ejemplos sobran: Obama y los alcaldes i regidors de Cataluña en Facebook, Hugo Chávez en Twitter, referéndum para el devenir de la avenida Diagonal por la web, el blog de Miguel ángel Moratinos y un exponencial etcétera mediante la inmediata accesibilidad del simple “gugleo”.

Privacidad individual y demagogia de contact o: el nuevo populismo digital

Si Antonio Gramsci estuviera vivo, más viva estuviera la noción de hegemonía vinculada a su concepto de bloque hegemónico, perfectamente representado al corriente por los grandes colosos de la faramalla electrónica: Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, etc.

Tales instituciones, como últimas expresiones de participación atadas al dominio de occidente, funcionan como amigables superestructuras de contacto entre usuarios, quienes al conceder abiertamente parte de su intimidad, permiten que amigos y desconocidos husmeen en sus vidas, compartan sus anhelos, lamenten sus frustraciones o conozcan a quien no es estrictamente necesario conocer. Dicho de otro modo, coleccionan cientos y hasta miles de cuadritos con imágenes de personas desvinculadas a cualquier lazo afectivo, laboral o familiar. Sin embargo, en el perverso y ambicioso ámbito político, estos cuadritos juegan un importante papel: un cuadrito equivale a un voto.

En tal sentido, tomando en cuenta el posicionamiento global de Barcelona en el paradigmático culto modernista, sus habitantes son potenciales cuadritos que resultan no claves pero sí valiosos elementos de participación electoral.

Esto lo sabe tanto la Generalitat como los ayuntamientos o los municipios barceloneses, y en gran parte abanderados varios como Josep Mayoral en Granollers, Manuel Bustos en Sabadell o Salvador Esteva en Martorell, quienes hacen política a través de la red, y gozan, como cualquier político, de auges y caídas en su popularidad.

El prestigio o el carisma traspasan la barrera de lo real y conquistan el fuero virtual que los catapulta al liderazgo y al poder, sin perder el contacto con los ciudadanosvotos- cuadritos, quienes pueden sentirse más cerca de su candidato, de la opción justa y correcta para la próxima medición, como cuando al termino de esa canción de Sonic Youth o Andrés Calamaro nos inducen a “Comenzar el cambio”, ¡Montilla Presidente!, Convergència i Unió en Spotify.

Atentos al descontrol de la “súper autopista de la información”, hacen campaña, dan la mano, besan ancianas, prometen y divulgan sus propuestas a pocos links de distancia, desestimando la traición del cibernauta que puede sin más cerrar la ventana, “navegando” ambas partes por las aguas Habermasnianas de la “infravaloración de la multiplicidad”.

De las redes sociales a la blogosfera pública: refugios del nuevo orden electrónico

Indigestión volcánica y temporada de tormentas en América Central. La cobertura mediática, que dilatante y diligente nos informa diariamente de calamidades o emociones marginales como el triunfo teutón en Eurovisión, alivia las procesiones intestinas del ciudadano común quien, desde su triste desacomodo “poorgoise”, observa su mezquino patrimonio tambalearse según cuenta la retórica de la caída del castillo de naipes del Capital.

¿Dónde se puede ir? ¿Cómo refugiarse de la espeluznante semiótica actual? Los vanguardistas de laboratorios occidentales y la izquierda de Caracas, Bangkok, Atenas o Reykjavik apuntan al rebusque ontológico, algo que los indios practican desde hace más de tres mil años, igualados a los animales menos racionales y confiando la evolución de su ser al poder de los estómagos semivacíos y al Capital Mystic que comparten con su par Chino en el seno de la esperanza y la salvación financiera de los países BRIC.

¿Qué queda ante tanta atenuación globalista? El barrio, el municipio, los consejos comunales, las reuniones vecinales, la autogestión; signos de representatividad que, aunque lejos del aislado y vigente recurso amazónico del trueque, generan diálogos y discursos, fuentes perpetuas de acuerdos y desacuerdos, conflictos y resoluciones que también están on line, aparecen en “gúgel” y funcionan como fundamentos del refugio íntimo de la gestión local.

Un comentario para el candidato, la pregunta para el alcalde, la queja para el administrador de la finca: las nuevas formas de acceso a la administración pública o un nuevo orden democrático electrónico, un nuevo modelo de gestión pública, temprana definición del blogger Daniel Linares quien la describe como “la forma de relacionarse entre la Administración Pública y los ciudadanos, que se caracteriza por el establecimiento de canales de comunicación y contacto directo entre ellos”. De aquí surgen ejemplos como el eGovernment de la “Smart City” de Barcelona o el GenCat, el portal del gobierno de la Generalitat de Catalunya, así como Localret, un portal conformado por las administraciones locales de Cataluña, “para actuar en el desarrollo de las redes y los servicios de telecomunicaciones y de la sociedad del conocimiento en el entorno local”. Todo un paradigma que trastoca el concepto tradicional de democracia, que no se aleja de la realidad política off Internet, ni de la práctica retórico-discursiva, como en las palabras de César Calderón un estudioso del tema, quien sin descubrir el agua tibia del sistema político virtual apunta que “Muchos políticos tratan de escamotear la información pública para usarla a su antojo”. Por su parte, el pueblo alza la voz y saca a relucir su posiciones, moderaciones y radicalismos, comentando y participando vía textos moderados o radicales, un furor de clics con tintes democráticos y ademanes arcaicos.

Foto: Jake Nash




Sound Cloud #9



Oh, give it, give it, give it, give it - Until you just can’t give no more

by Lena Wiget

It’s been a while since Charlie Chaplin made Modern Times – that was back in 1936, when industrialization was in full swing. But hardly anything has since been produced that paints the dream of Progress so poignantly. How could you better mock man’s compulsive obsession with technology and his belief that superior gadgets will lead to the betterment of the human race than by inventing a feeding machine that shoves screw nuts down your throat? And, as if the wicked apparatus didn’t spell it out clearly enough, a possessed Chaplin delivered the punchline, going mad over his monotonous work at the conveyor belt and applying his tool to noses, ears, buttons and bosoms.

Of course, technological advancements have led to significant changes since Modern Times, and I’m not referring to high-tech but poorly construed animation films like Avatar. Fewer people work on nightmarish conveyor belts and more of us surf webs, play with clouds, and vegetate in front of computers. Yet, at heart, the issue remains the same: we invent apparatuses only to subject ourselves to them. We insinuate the types of technology we use into our day-to-day lives, altering our way of being in the world. We lament that we cannot press ctrl+f when the office keys can’t be found or ctrl+z when things have spilled over. Disconnect from the Web for just a day or two and you’ll experience a devilish withdrawal. But somehow, in the grand narrative of Modernity, the Internet is still portrayed as an efficient tool that advances the goals of its users, who are to be understood as pre-constituted, instrumental identities, impervious to technology’s influence.

If you’ve ever signed up for online banking only to find that it comes with new charges, new frustrations, and a mind-boggling array of pin codes, you know that a relationship with the Internet is anything but innocent. With every new use the Web affords, new power relations evolve, and we sometimes find ourselves in thrall to the same forces that affect our analogue existences. Let’s say we’re bowled over by the wonder that is Spotify, for instance. New music, old music, lovely interface, and all for free. It could be heaven...at least for a while. After all, Spotify is a business, and a modern, high-tech one at that, meaning that they’re not fiddling around with state- of-the-art information technology just to regurgitate what’s already out there. They plan to shape and reinvent, knowing well that information doesn’t go unchanged when circulated among different material substrates and platforms. In fact, according to Spotify’s CEO, Daniel Ek, they want to “move people from the ownership model to the access model.” So, if “people” are lethargic consumers to be moved, and the euphemistic “access model” eases us into subscriptions to data that the company may remove at any time, the question that should inform our use of this device is whether we’re winning or losing out in this new regime of power relations. We can amuse ourselves with an imaginary Q&A session, can’t we? Let’s dive into the rabbit hole and kill the Jabberwocky.

A concerned consumer
I have heard that iTunes will soon launch a cloud-based service. I hope Spotify won’t be aborted before seeing the full light of day?

Dear Believer,

Jim Butcher, Spotify’s head of press, is 100% unwilling to say anything about the subject. No, wait; that’s incorrect. He did tell us to “Watch this space ;)”. And, yes, he did use the emoticon. Put two and two together and the only thing to do is back up your playlists. A novel platform with potential (Spotify) might be able to pay minuscule amounts to artists and survive, but only until a competitor emerges with a bigger cloud and more money to disperse. It very much depends on how many people decide to switch over to Spotify’s new paid subscription model. If you are a believer, sign yourself up and shell out the cash. Atheists should save some money to invest in music right now so the DTs don’t hit too hard when the plug is pulled.

Another concerned consumer
There’s that one song I need to play in the mornings while eating my müsli – it’s the Yeasayer’s “Tightrope”; the line “Oh, give it, give it, give it, give it, give it - Until you just can’t give no more” helps me start the day. It’s been on Spotify for months but as of last week it is no longer available. I experience terrible difficulties getting out of bed.

Dear Suicidal Müsli Glutton,

A change of diet is in order. Regular müsli may be healthy but in the long run it will desiccate your spirits. The same is true of Spotify. Since Heidegger, philosophers have warned of the dangers of technological artifacts. They argue that a good tool draws you in through its “readiness-at-hand”, its convenience. It completely withdraws, integrating itself into your lifeworld, and Boom! You’re done in. You desire it, you need it and you despair when you can’t have it. Any “user” who buys into not buying music (as if the step from analogue to digital in the past few years wasn’t enough change for one decade) must be aware that his status changes from owner to subscriber and that this change in status implies a loss of rights over the material consumed. “Tightrope” is part of a compilation and is no longer available because, as Jim Butcher says can happen, “the rights holder chose to remove it.” Get yourself some coffee and wake up.

A concerned musician
Do the artists have any say as to which top five songs appear in the 123-section? People always play that one song I wrote for a special someone who fucked me over big time. It’s just a lame love song and I hate being defined by it as a musician. Is there any way I can make it disappear from the Top5?

Dear Lovebird,

We all make mistakes. You can either choose to completely remove the song from Spotify, or you can learn to live with its Top5 status. The top lists are 100% user-driven and based purely on popularity measured by the number of streams. You can’t argue with taste…

Another concerned musician
I heard that Lady Gaga got a check from Spotify for $167 from a million streams – does that mean that I’ll never be able to make a living through Spotify? Let’s say my rent is 500 Euros and I eat and drink for another 500 Euros – how many times would my songs need to be played per month so that I can cover basics?

Dear Math Duffer,

Please sit tight. The answer is: 10,000,000 times. Even the Beatles would have starved if their lives depended on Spotify. An artist without a record deal needs to sign up with an aggregator and the amount of money paid to the artist per song depends on the agreement that that given aggregator has with the company. Spotify “doesn’t go into specific details, as these are confidential deals agreed with the various rights holders (labels, collecting societies, artists etc.)” (That’s Jim Butcher again). All fine and good – we like secrets – but let’s assume that if they had better news to report, they would. I once saw a great performance by an artist named Hyperpotamus in Barcelona. He played in front of a small crowd of 40 people. Each of us paid 4€ to hear him sing and a few bought a copy of his CD. A few days later I discover his album on Spotify and asked him about his deal. He replied, “For every time someone listens to a song of mine on Spotify, I earn 0.0001€. Not kidding, I repeat: 0.0001€. Of course it’s absolutely symbolic! Still, having your CD on Spotify is viable for an upcoming artist in the sense that it looks good and professional, plus people can listen to your music whenever they feel like it. Gano mucho más dinero a través de tocando que vendiendo discos. Lo de la venta de discos es un pequeño plus que viene bien, pero si alguien quiere vivir de esto, que sepa que sólo será a través de tocar mucho.” You’ve got to hit the road, again, my dear. Or, you could also consider “Sweding” your music, like Jack Black in Be Kind Rewind. Exclusivity sells. And apropos of verbifying nouns, what about de-Murdochifying Myspace and ourspacifying Spotify? Wouldn’t it be grand if there were a global social platform that wasn’t owned by a private company with obscure shareholders but by musicians and fans - together? Wouldn’t that be worth subscribing to?

But this is not a dream we awaken from once we’ve killed the Jabberwocky. We are stuck in this technological wonderland that we have created for ourselves for good. Cloud-based computing will surely play a part in its future and maybe Spotify, too. Just remember that even if you decide against the subscriptionbased service, nothing is ever 100% “free”. If you want to listen to good music you’ve got to support the bands. Support as in “spend your money”…

OMG, I am a Lady of the Evening. ROFL?

by straypuppy

I decided to become a life actress on the Internet about a month ago. I have had some online dating profiles since 2004 or 2005, but it’s only over the last year that I really began using them, as I was one man’s floozy for my entire twenties.

Listing I was interested in casual sex on my profile turned out to be similar to hanging out a global shingle proclaiming my whoredom; I immediately began getting a great many brusque come-ons. Earlier this year, an entire mobile phone conference tried to order me from the Interclogs. One chat went:

“You look like a great fuck.”
“That’s very forward, isn’t it?”
“&$%’# @€ ¿ $%&*!”
“Have you ever heard of the word ‘overfamiliarity’?”

I queried some of these individuals as to why they didn’t call up an escort agency or simply visit their nearest watering hole. It seemed a kind and sensible suggestion. And I tried to engage in conversation, oft to no avail. Many of them just weren’t listening at all, like a lovely gentleman who goes by the username **omatose* and was quite insistent. Unfortunately for him, his IQ was insufficient to coerce me. He kept telling me that he was going to give me the best orgasm I’d ever had, and I had no idea how to politely convey that I could already tell his capacity for turning me on was similar to that of a loaf of bread; our interaction was making my girl bits more juiceless by the keystroke. I kept accepting his chats, though, and he kept trying—every time he was here on business, in fact. No matter how many times I told him I wasn’t coming to his hotel room, he persisted in thinking I was being coy. The last time we spoke he requested I fly myself to Madrid to entertain him. His attitude seemed to be that any woman up for a romp in the hay with a special someone just needed the right bit of pushy prodding to acquiesce. He is not alone in this misassumption.

Are we all free to be whoever we want, to do and say what we please on the Internet? This must be part of its great yawning beauty; the interconnected noosphere is our playground.

This is when I created my fake escort profile. I used a profile I have had for five years but had kept blank to peruse anyone sketchy, since you can see who clicks you on this site, but if you disable it others are invisible too. I thought: you now feel free to chat me right up, looking for a good time with nary an hola. I have a game I’d like to play too!

Oh great World Wide Wishing Well (WWWW)! Bring me the paper, cheap flights and gleaming young French twins to sodomize at my whim! Like Ol’ Dirty Bastard, you want pussy and everything else for as free as possible. Well, there’s nothing wrong with wishing on a star. Here’s my try: I want to make my love life my well-paid part-time job. I want to buy my building and a piece of land on the coast. I want to move my parents to Spain to retire them in style. I want to travel again. I am a simple girl, and I can be your very own My Little Puta.

Along with the plethora of online catcalls from my 3,000 new Internet suitors, I’ve received a lot of messages asking who I am. They ask to see my ‘real’ profile, know my name to Google me or see my face, and they often ask for this immediately. It feels strange, since I have always put a lot of myself online without a second thought, and my profile is, as it were, honest and actually me. The most striking difference between my two profiles is the photos; the writing is the same, and I am the same, albeit much more lewd. In my now defunct original profile I had put up all of the pictures I was allowed to, and each of them showed my face. In this profile I only show my ass. But this is the first time I have concealed my identity in this way, which I have come to realize many do, because they can or need to or are more careful than I have historically been. How many of you boys have your separate profiles? How many of you keep them blank because you are only here to peruse the goods, or for the same reason I myself did? Most of you are just being yourselves, and I like and prefer that, but I think I will carry on in my thorough reappraisal of what I share with the Web and how easy I am to find. The Internet is the most public place to ever exist in the history of the world. Eyes are everywhere, and who knows how long a shelf-life anything you do or say there will have.

It’s been a gas engaging in a little intercourse with all of you. These days even Pornhub has become a social networking site, and you proposition me in ways you would never dream of if, say, we worked together or met at a concert. I’m sorry if I’ve come off cracked in some of our exchanges, but at times I truly have felt bewildered or dazed. Oh, the things you say! You tell me all the things you want to do to, on, or with me, and sometimes it makes my jaw drop. You want to tie me up, ride me, suckle me, tickle me. You want me to dress you in frilly knickers, poke you, pee and sit on you. You want threesomes and moresomes and thank me repeatedly for giving you a fat one at your desk. You want to know what you get for your money when you take me seriously. But also: many of you tell me that you might lavish me with attentions and goodies, but would never outright pay for sex. I wonder if that is congenital dishonesty. You don’t express the same objection to hustling me. I don’t need a pimp, baby, but feel free to give me some good press. And, of course, a few of you are angry or perturbed at me, want to let me know you disapprove, or have a need to textually take something out on a stranger from across an ocean or continent. One of you proposed marriage in your first message. So much has been said. All I can really say is thanks, because frankly it’s nice to have so much attention and I truly am a lovely, horny girl. Speaking of good times…

When I’m not dizzied by my new, semipublic, mostly anonymous role on the Infobahn, I’m laughing uncontrollably or masturbating myself silly. This feels like a kind of fame, and I think I’m drunk on it. I’m not sure if or when I will be meeting anyone from it in meatspace, but I have a feeling I will. Until then, un beso!

okcupid.com/profile/straypuppy

Week Alternative Media SL @ 2007 all rights reserved | contact: info@bcnweek.com | Links