Sunday, August 27, 2006

Roundup of "Darknet" Topics

I'm almost through with An Army of Davids by Glenn Reynolds, and it fits in well with three other books I've read in the past few months (The Long Tail, Everything Bad Is Good for You, and Darknet) -- All of them are pro-tech, pro-capitalism, pro-democracy, pro-Net, and generally optimistic. All of these things are appealing to me. (I am a long-term optimist and a short-term pessimist. In other words, I believe that North Korea will move towards significant capitalist reforms during my lifetime, but I just know I'm going to find cat barf in the living room before I even get out of bed.)

For whatever reasons, Darknet, by J.D. Lasica, had the most references of the four to people, things, and events that I had previously either not known about, or of which I didn't know as much as I wanted to. Below are some bullets of things covered in that book that caught my attention (Although Lasica himself has beaten me to it by having posted a miniature version of the book online):
  • Roger McGuinn of The Byrds is a well-established netizen. Here is his blog, and here is Folk Den, the site he runs for the purpose of preserving traditional folk music.
  • One of my first blogposts was about the adaptation of Raiders of the Lost Ark done by teenage fans in the 1980s. I am dying to see this thing. Austin Chronicle article here. Daniel Clowes is working on an adaptation of their making of the adaption.
  • There's a guy featured in the book named Bruce Forest, who is a professional, very sophistiated hacker-for-hire. The major Hollywood studios have him on contract to traffic in illegal copies of their films via various Internet communities so that he can then report back to them on ways they can plug leaks. Funny thing about Mr. Forest... since the book came out, he got arrested for setting off some bombs in some of the small Connecticut residential areas near which he lives.
  • Another guy (who doesn't seem to have blown anything up, as far as I can tell) in the book is named Philip Gaines, and Mr. Gaines is a big fan of the short-lived libertarian sci-fi TV drama Firefly. Without really asking the Fox Network, he created and circulated a two-DVD set of excerpts from the show with his analysis and comments on a voice track, intended for the edification of other fans. Good links here; NYT article here. NYT excerpt: But for the true completist, there's another option out there: a handmade DVD created by Philip B. Gaines, a graduate student in digital media at the University of Washington. On this small, white two-disc set, Mr. Gaines puts forth his own idiosyncratic take on "Firefly," scrolled over montages of stills and short excerpted scenes. His production includes episode summaries and visual mini-essays on subjects like "irony" and "violence." He timed his project to piggyback on the official "Firefly" DVD (released by 20th Century Fox Home Video), touting his production on the geek-news site His discs are a charmingly ungainly valentine to the show — more experiment than true collectible. But they do offer a glimpse of a new possibility, the fan's-eye approach to the television DVD.
  • Jed Horovitz sounds like an interesting guy. He made a documentary called Willful Infringement, which takes on the whole bugaboo of copyright law. Excerpt: Over the last two hundred years, western law has turned ideas into something called Intellectual Property. At the same time, we have created the idea of a corporation as a property owner. The rise of digital media technologies and the Internet have brought these two developments into sharp focus. The nexus of these developments has produced some unintended consequences and as a result, copyright has become the 'killing fields' of culture.
  • Newsweek profile on the godfather of the DVD, Warren Lieberfarb. Excerpt: Since it was introduced in the spring of 1997, the small silver platter he championed has transformed Hollywood and the way the world watches movies. Lieberfarb's dead-on hunch—that the masses would buy DVDs, not just rent them—helped ignite the greatest boom in Hollywood history, fundamentally altering the economics of filmmaking. Nowadays movie theaters merely begin the buzz for DVDs.
  • is a cool site. Excerpt: Since 1999, we've allowed ordinary listeners to pick the best emerging music, resulting in commercial success for deserving artists worldwide. Our vision is to redefine how music is discovered and promoted: by the people, for the people.
  • DJ Danger Mouse, who is now 50% of Gnarls Barkley, is profiled in Darknets, mostly due to his work The Grey Album. (If you haven't heard -- The Beatles (White Album) + Jay-Z's The Black Album.) MTV article here.
  • The Mashin' of the Christ speaks for itself. Google Video here.


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