Like many people, I was glued to social media on the night of November 13th as the terrorist attacks on Paris unfolded. When something terrible like that happens, it is easy to become confused and bewildered by the conflicting reports that fly around on TV and online. So I decided to write a guide to understanding and demystifying the kinds of sources (newspaper articles, TV and radio reports, live blogs, social media posts, visual images etc.) that you will encounter in all forms of the media when a major news story is breaking. But what qualifies me to write such a guide?
While studying for a degree in history some years ago, I was taught how to analyse and interrogate sources of all kinds; a skill which has come in handy when attempting to understand how breaking news works. By ‘analyse and interrogate’ I mean placing a source (whether written, illustrated or audio-visual) in its wider context in order to understand and assess it. This involves asking a lot of questions about the source, its origins and its creator – the who, what, where, why, and when that you will see in this brief guide to interpreting and making sense of the media’s reaction to breaking events. The answers to those questions can help you decide whether a source can be trusted or whether it needs to be taken with a pinch of salt…
Who wrote/produced/directed/photographed/filmed this source? Are they a professional journalist/photographer/film-maker? Or are they a member of the public who happened to be there at the time and snapped a photo or filmed events with their phone then posted it on Facebook? If they’re a professional, what do you know about them? What can you find out about them? Are they well-known for personally having a particular political bias? Or do they work for a media outlet known for having a particular political bias? How might this affect their work?
It’s really not uncommon these days to find social media sites up in arms about something or other on a regular basis – and last night’s overexcited Twitter storm was no exception to that. But this time, surprisingly, Twitter wasn’t getting its collective knickers in a twist about the latest political outrage, celebrity foot-in-mouth comment, Daily Mail screed of hate or exploitative reality TV show.
Instead, and to the astonishment of music fans (of a certain age, mostly) everywhere, the mysterious and now almost mythical shoegazer band My Bloody Valentine finally released the very belated follow-up to their classic 1991 album Loveless onto their website in the early hours of this morning, to a response on Twitter that can only be described as mass indie hysteria.
Unsurprisingly, the demand for mbv (as the album is inventively titled) almost instantaneously crashed the band’s website, and it remained down for several hours – leading to frustrated jokes aplenty about MBV frontman Kevin Shields breaking the internet or spending 22 years creating a beautifully crafted error message instead of an album.
In a way, all this was typical of My Bloody Valentine – they’ve never been a band to do anything the conventional (or even easy) way. The recording sessions for Loveless, for example, comprehensively demonstrated Shields’ notorious sonic perfectionism at its peak, plus the completed album ended up almost bankrupting Creation Records in the process.
Music geeks the world over will be rubbing their hands together with glee at this news – I certainly am! From now until October, The Space website will be releasing parts of the legendary John Peel‘s equally legendary record collection onto its site, at a rate of 100 records a week. This is, and can only be, just a fraction of the great man’s enormous and eclectic collection, as his wife Sheila told Alexis Petridis in The Guardian yesterday:
Peel’s is probably the most celebrated record collection in Britain: 26,000 albums, 40,000 singles and countless CDs, which spread out of Peel’s office and took over a variety of rooms and outbuildings in the home near Stowmarket he invariably referred to as Peel Acres. The singles and CDs, [Sheila] Ravenscroft says, were filed alphabetically, but the albums were a different matter. “They are all filed numerically and cross-referenced with a very old filing cabinet, full of small filing cards that John hand typed himself on his old Olivetti typewriter. The way you access them is that you look in the filing cabinet, find the file card alphabetically, and on the top corner there’s a number.”
These filing cards have now formed the basis of The John Peel Project on The Space, an Arts Council-funded pop-up website, which launches this month and runs until the end of October. Every week, for the next 26 weeks, users will be able to browse the first 100 cards from each letter of the alphabet, with one album pulled out for special attention. “We will try to get a film of the artist, show old clips of them, look into what they are doing now,” says Ravenscroft.
I love the idea of being able to rummage through Peel’s record collection, and I love the sheer geekiness of his filing system! It is such a treat to get this unprecedented access to the arch-uber-music geek’s very own tunes, and I can’t wait to see more. The ‘A’s’ are already available to browse on The Space (there’s even an ABBA record!), with the ‘B’s’ coming next week…
Here’s a bit of fun.
WordPress have recently introduced country stats, which means I can finally be nosy and find out where all my visitors are from. The stats go back approximately a month, and, in my case, contain some rather interesting information…
Unsurprisingly for a British-based blog, the vast majority of my readers during that period hail from the United Kingdom, with the United States and Canada lagging a long way behind in second and third.
I also seem to get a lot of European visitors – in fact, during the period covered by the stats, readers from twenty one of the twenty seven European Union member states popped by (I’m only missing hits from Cyprus, Estonia, Luxembourg, Malta, Slovakia and Slovenia, so if you know anyone in any of those countries, send them a link to Another Kind Of Mind NOW!).
But I also get hits from some slightly more exotic, far-flung and, frankly, often unexpected places, including Argentina, Mexico, the Netherland Antilles (where’s that?), Bermuda, Mongolia (wow), Paraguay, Vietnam, Morocco, Japan, Tunisia, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Korea, the Philippines, Australia and New Zealand.
I’d had no idea that Another Kind Of Mind had such an international reach – thank you to all of you, wherever you are, for your visits!
After many requests from fans of the film and much hard work from the Crisis Team, it’s finally here… Yes, The Crisis of Civilization has, at long last, been unleashed online and on DVD!
You lucky people out there can now WATCH THE FILM FOR FREE ONLINE whenever you want. You can also DOWNLOAD THE FILM FOR FREE, and BUY THE DVD (which comes with lots of lovely extras) – all of which means that now you too can put a screening on in your community at any time and spread the word to your friends and family…
Remember, if you decide to buy the DVD, you can be safe in the knowledge that in doing so you are helping to support the project (which has been created on a shoestring by a small and dedicated group of people volunteering their time, skills and energy) in the important job of getting the film out to as many people as possible.
So tell your friends and share the links. Everyone should see this film!
Watch it. Download it. Buy it. Screen it. Share it.
Really exciting news reaches me from Crisis of Civilization HQ – from March 14th 2012 at 7pm UK time, everyone will be able to watch and download the film online for FREE, as well as being able to buy the DVD from the Crisis website or from Amazon!
The DVD will be available in both PAL and NTSC formats – which means that anyone can put a screening on now, wherever they are in the world – and comes in lovely eco-friendly recycled packaging (of course!) with over an hour’s worth of extra goodies for you to enjoy, including deleted scenes, remix films, and additional interview footage.
You’ll also find a range of subtitles in English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, German, Swedish and Chinese, which have been expertly put together by an amazingly dedicated bunch of linguistically talented volunteers.
There’s been lots of interest in the release already, with reviews from the Transition Voice website and the independent film magazine Little White Lies, as well as a great response from the BAFTA-winning film-maker, Nick Broomfield, who described The Crisis of Civilization as “a unique film. Everyone should see it”.
On Wednesday, alongside thousands of other sites across the internet, Another Kind Of Mind went dark in support of the anti-SOPA/PIPA campaign. Despite the fact that said campaign still has some way to go, the blackout appears to have had quite an impact already. In advance of next Tuesday’s Senate vote, here are a few eye-opening stats about what has been called “the largest online protest in the history of the internet”:
10,000,000 – The total number of signatories to all anti-SOPA petitions
4,500,000 – The number of people who signed Google’s anti-SOPA petition alone
3,000,000+ – The approximate number of emails sent in support of the anti-SOPA campaign on Wednesday
2,583,000+ – The approximate number of tweets referring to SOPA/PIPA and the protest on Wednesday alone
511,111 – The number of people who ‘liked’ Mark Zuckerberg’s SOPA statement on Facebook (as of today)
115,000+ – The number of (recorded) sites taking part in the protest
45,000 – The number of WordPress sites involved in the protest (including Another Kind Of Mind!)
I got home yesterday to find a flood of messages from various friends who were concerned that my main email address was sending out spam messages (you know the sort of thing: dodgy offers for those little blue pills used by gentlemen wishing to perk up their love lives and the like). Needless to say, I wasn’t very happy about this – especially as the compromised email address is associated with a number of other website accounts, as well as being linked to the separate gmail address I use for Another Kind Of Mind.
I’m still trying to find out what has happened (and whether this has any connection with the fact that I currently can’t log into Twitter either!) – but in the meantime, I have reset both email account passwords and that for my WordPress account. I don’t think Another Kind Of Mind or the associated gmail account have been affected by this, but if you are a subscriber or commenter and you have received spam messages purporting to come from me or from this blog, please let me know.
If you have been affected, please accept my apologies (I am very hot on security and privacy on this blog – see here for more details) and be assured that I am making every effort to ensure that this doesn’t happen again!
As it’s Another Kind Of Mind’s second birthday on WordPress next month (blimey, how did that happen? Only seems like five minutes ago…), I’ve been having a bit of a revamp and a general tidy-up about the place.
I’m adding some new features (you may have noticed the slideshows recently!) and have finally got round to updating the static pages. I’ve also added some excellent new sites to my blogroll, which you can find at the very bottom left of the page. All the links listed are well worth checking out. Incidentally, if you think your site should be on there and isn’t, please let me know.
If you want to get in touch, have a look at the Feedback page for more details. You can always ‘like’ the Another Kind Of Mind Facebook page, follow me on Twitter, check out some more of my photography on Flickr or follow me on Tumblr for more random odds and ends while you’re waiting for the next ‘proper’ post here…!