One artist’s good-bye to Soundcloud (and facebook)

I have deleted my facebook artist page and my soundcloud site for good today. Both contributed to make me feel my art as something valuable only by numbers, clicks, likes and forcing you to promote your stuff – all in all: it turns it into a bland quantifiable product. For me music is more about community than about popularity and cashing in. Those channels are part of what has made me turn more and more quiet. This is not the way music works for me. It makes me sick, tbh.

Why today? This article was the final drop that made me do what I had thought of long before: “Soundcloud Boldly Releases New App, Allows Universal to Flag Your Account, and Quietly Announces Data Mining, All in One Month“.

That’s what I have (hastily) typed into the ‘tell us why you are leaving’ box:

“Because soundcloud is slowly turning into everything I have ever hated about music platforms and from which it originally was a nice harbour. Soundcloud only became that big because of a lot of small artists and djs who used it and spread the word. They did so because Soundcloud stood for a certain kind of freedom and interaction. Those are the ones driven away by new policies that are enforced now that Soundcloud has become big enough to cash in from the big players and by a mass market that is only interested in widening the gap between bigger artists/producers and listeners/fans – smaller artists who don’t bring money are no longer welcome but get threats of acccount suspension for the very same kind of dj mixes and remixes which Soundcloud still welcomes from bigger names/labels. Music industry has managed to kill the next platform. Goodbye for good.”

Dear omgdigitalpanic journalists,

Dear omgdigitalpanic journalists, I have news for you: EVERYBODY would like to work from a safe space outside of capitalism.

I get it. You’re scared. Of robots and readers, of algorithms and austerity. But:

If you want to rage it shouldn’t be ‘us against the machines’ but ‘us against the machine’.

To spell it out: Not ‘us against technology’ but ‘us against the system’, not ‘us against the inhuman’ but ‘us against the inhumane’.

(just to make it really clear: system = how and why technology is used)

As much as I like self-reflection I am getting tired of your constant luddist ‘omg future of journalism is at stake’ crying.

One day it’s the digital readers, the other day google or clickbait sites. Never yourselves.

Stop the demonisation of digital. You have a once in a generation chance of reinventing what your work is about – use it.

At least you have a voice. Many others don’t.

And whenever you feel scared and like self-pitying turn your headphones up to the max and try dancing naked in your bedroom to this:

 

Prey by Michael Crichton

I have finished Michael Crichton’s Prey last night. I had picked it up because I wanted to read at least one nanobots sci-fi before they enter our everyday lives. With headlines like “Nanobots Can Now Enter Human Cell With Help Of Sound Waves, Offering Hope For Guided Missile Attacks On Cancer” or “Behold The First Nanobot Assembly Line In Action” this day seems to come closer.

prey

Prey passed pretty low-temperatured on my “can’t stop reading” vs “bath tub water getting colder and colder” test, which means: decently thrilling. What disappointed me though is Crichton’s technophobia. He is clearly fascinated by future technology but his focus always is on a wagging finger: Huminz, thou shalt not play god! Prey shows a strong interest in the technical side of things, in how nanotechnology can work as an interface between biology, chemistry, IT and med technology etc. but it doesn’t have much patience for the technology/human relationship beyond the predatory. The new life form is an enemy bred from Silicon Valley capitalist greed, more like a demon possessing a human than an enriching symbiosis. The stranger stays strange and must be destroyed.

prey1

A fear of technology-driven evolution, if not even fear of change creeps through this book.

There is no exploration beyond a technological one.  There is zero communication between the swarm with its hive mind and humans. There is only Disneyesque good/bad guys communication  with the nanobots who live symbiotic with humans. It’s disappointing because with all the knowledge he gathered you’d think Crichton could have fleshed that part of the story out quite good. If only to make it a more tense decision to crush them bots. Even Mary Shelley let us sympathise with Frankenstein’s monster but Crichton has no pity for the new life form he created. Crichton’s swarm is ultimately evil, as is the hero’s wife from the moment she starts creating it.

She is the mad scientist, working overtime out of passion for her experimental technology, a maybe cheating wife – she always stays ‘his wife’ – , and she gets to play a double-bad-mother role: for the human children she egoistically leaves behind for her job and for the nanobot swarm. Her symbiosis with the nanobots has ever so slight incestuous connotations and so much closeness between an autonomous mother and her offspring can only result in evil and must be killed.

While he is very bothered not to paint his male characters as tough guys Crichton’s depiction of women leaves a bad taste: they are handy helpers (babysitters, house cleaners) or faux-strong women. ‘Faux’ because even if described as tough colleagues they never are really equal or self-reliant, at best they get to contribute to his deeds but ultimately it’s the always-on-the-edge male hero, like Die Hard’s John McLane, who takes control, the self-sacrificing stay-at-home-dad coming back to science only to solve the problems others have caused. I think my name for this kind of heroes from now on will be male-flu guys.

Despite those flaws and read as an action adventure novel: All in all a fun mostly fast-paced read.

If you know of a novel that you think is better nanobots science fiction – please let me know!