All posts by Andrew Feldstein

Beatles on iTunes: Day Two

Tracking sales; it’s an old habit of mine. So I couldn’t resist an update on Beatles album sales. It is interesting to see how sales are shaking out among iTunes customers. It has been suggested in an article in today’s New York Times that most die-hard Beatles fans have already ripped their CDs onto iPods. So this pattern of popularity is ostensibly among less enthusiastic fans.

This may be true of the top 3; Abbey Road, the White Album, and Sgt. Pepper. But I have a feeling that purchasers of the Boxed set at $149 may be cash-strapped die hard fans who bought a few of the 2009 digital releases on CD but couldn’t manage the almost $300 price tag for the boxed set “hard copy”.

12:30 PM/ Day 2

    7. Abbey Road
    8. White Album
    9. Sgt. Pepper
    11. Boxed Set
    12. The Beatles 1967-
    14. The Beatles 1962-
    17. Rubber Soul
    19. Revolver
    21. Magical Mystery Tour
    22. Let It Be
    25. Hard Day’s Night
    27. Please Please Me
    29. Help
    31. With the Beatles
    33. Past Masters
    35. Beatles for Sale
    47. Yellow Submarine

Beatles on iTunes

I’m not sure what it is. I have no reason to get sentimental about the announcement that the Beatles catalog was finally on iTunes. I didn’t have any reason to get teary when Apple announced ‘Facetime’ on the iPhone 4 either, but I did. At the time of the announcement of Facetime, I was overwhelmed by the realization that something fundamental had changed in my world. I’m careful to say “my world”, although I am not alone as a ‘child of the 60’s, growing up with Dick Tracy, the Jetsons, Robert Heinlein, Issac Assimov, Star Trek and myriad other visions and visionaries pointing to a future where a portable communication device could provide images as well as audio.

Skype isn’t the same thing. It’s not portable (read personal) enough. But back to the Beatles. They may not have been on iTunes these last seven years but they have been on my iPod since the beginning. Eventually the 2009 remastered Beatles CDs got downloaded on my iPod/iPhone/MacBook even though I knew I was losing fidelity because, in a world of digital media, CDs have become inconvenient.

Maybe I was just happy for Steve Jobs. He and I are ‘of an age’ and I understand the importance of the Beatles. As successful as the iTunes store has been, lack of Beatles content was a credibility issue. Now, that has been resolved and iTunes can be considered a full-fledged member of the ‘music biz’.

So what is happening on iTunes? It is Day One of Beatles on iTunes and Abbey Road is climbing rapidly up the album charts. When I began this post it was at number 9, now, at 3:00pm EST they are at number 8; having surpassed Taylor Swift’s new album and closing in on Josh Groban at number 7.

At Hour 5/ Day 1

    8. Abbey Road
    10. White Album
    13. Boxed Set (at $149. !)
    14. Sgt. Pepper
    16. The Beatles 1967-
    17. The Beatles 1962-
    19. Rubber Soul
    23. Revolver
    24. Magical Mystery Tour
    25. Let It Be
    28. Hard Day’s Night
    29. Please Please Me
    34. With the Beatles
    38. Past Masters
    45. Beatles for Sale

For those keeping track that’s 15 of the Top 45 Albums on iTunes. So, in effect, the Beatles have grabbed one third of the album sales on iTunes in 5 hours. Not quite so dominant on the ‘song’ charts, the Beatles most popular song download is Let It Be at 46, Here Comes the Sun at 47, Blackbird at 56, In My Life at 68, With a Litle Help From My Friends at 83, Come Together at 87, and Hey Jude at 99.

The William Gibson Effect

It happens every time I read a new William Gibson novel. I get this uncontrollable urge to find new ways to express my inner geek. Gibson’s books have always spoken to me of the power of technology and I want to be able to experience some of that first-hand. Of course this can be a confusing impulse since many of the toys described in novels such as Zero History don’t yet exist. Or perhaps they do exist, or at least could exist. I think part of what I find appealing about Gibsonesque techno-toys is the fact that they are just close enough to current reality to be plausible. I mean; it’s certainly possible that there is an iPhone app for controlling surveillance balloons. And, of course why not “locative art“?

After reading Spook Country, his previous novel, the impulse was strongest. Without knowing exactly why, I unearthed my old Kaypro 2 and began plans to completely gut the machine and replace the innards with something like a Mac Mini. I thought it would be really cool to create this juxtaposition of 21st century functionality in an iconic, 1980’s form. I thought it would be ironic, surprising, and fun to play with.

The Kaypro is now sitting in my office; taunting me and challenging me to make it into something as cool as William Gibson might envision. I haven’t started the project and, for now, I’ll stick to contemplating the transformative possibilities. Otherwise, I’m afraid I’ll wind up with something mundane and disappointing; no longer the Kaypro and yet far short of Gibsonesque.

Declaration of Independents

“When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for individuals to denounce the corporate bands which threaten to homogenize our cities and our souls, we must celebrate the powers that make us unique and declare the causes which compel us to remain independent.”

Thus begins the Declaration of Indiebound. Indiebound is the creation of the American Booksellers Association and it has been formed to encourage local bookstores, as well as other independent retailers, to join together in the belief that “healthy local economies help communities thrive”.

I discovered the ‘declaration’ tacked to one of the sturdy old wood columns of the Fountain Bookstore located along the cobblestone streets of Historic Shockoe Slip here in Richmond Virginia. The Fountain is a wonderful bookstore; full of charm, personality, and a selection of books that would warm the heart of any self-respecting book lover.

delocator logo

While we’re on the subject I have to mention the Delocator website. This site is the brainchild of xstine; a global media artist whom I heard speak at the MiT5 conference back in the spring of 2007. The idea of delocator is to guide people to independent alternatives to chain cafes, bookstores, and movie theaters.

You can enter any zipcode and a list of independent coffee shops, bookstores, or movie houses will appear. There is also a version that will work on Google maps and your cell phone. It is a great service made better by allowing anyone to add their favorite independent shop. When I got to my computer (I decided to wait for the rush to die down to get my new iPhone) I saw that the Fountain wasn’t on Delocator. The Cafe Gutenberg, a very cool Richmond cafe just a couple of blocks away, was. I corrected the imbalance by adding the Fountain Bookstore to Delocator.

Illusion of Diffusion

An inveterate ‘early adopter’ like myself can’t help thinking that I might be arriving too late at the techno-party. While I consider myself to be moderately ‘tech-savvy’ I always have the feeling that I am missing the boat. I mean, what does it say about my level of technological prowess that my kids look at me with pity because I don’t use my mobile phone to ‘text’.

Sure, I have created this blog (thanks to WordPress) and I can tinker with HTML and CSS, but hacking and programming skills elude me. Is the world of technological innovation is passing me by?
Continue reading Illusion of Diffusion

Brighter Than Sunshine

So I sit here, desk piled high with papers to grade on one side and research notes on the other. I am tempted to dive into the papers because I know that it is the more structured, as well as the more time-sensitive, task. But I am determined to make some sense of this data and so I am steeling myself for the challenge.

Rob Kozinets was right when he warned me that the teaching would impact my research time. And it’s not just the time, it’s the space in my head. Add to that the fact that my wife is 300 miles away and you might understand that my “distraction threshold” is at an alltime low.

The youtube video is for my bride of 16 months. Thank you for your patience and understanding and “yes, I’m working on the dissertation today”.

Implicit Web: Information Voyeurism

The internet has become a wellspring of really ‘neat’ information for those of us that like to know what’s going on ‘under the surface’. For instance I have a wpstats plugin that allows me to see how many visitors I have at my blog, what browser they use, and what pages they visit. It sure beats sending out questionnaires and wading through the irrelevant, superfluous, and inaccurately self-reported information available through more traditional channels of inquiry.

Not surprisingly, there is a term for this new and valuable source of information. The newly minted term is implicit web. The following is from Wikipedia:

The Implicit Web is a concept coined in 2007 to denote web sites which specialize in the synthesis of personal information gleaned from the Internet into a single, coherent picture of user behavior. Implicit data may include clickstream information, media consumption habits, location tracking or any data generated without “explicit” input from a user. Presumed advantages of implicit data include accuracy, ease of input and comprehensiveness.

This implicit information is everywhere on the web. I have Alexa rankings and PageRank indicators on my toolbar that tell me, not only how my weblog ranks relative to the rest of the websites in the universe, but also how well any other site I visit is doing. Seller rankings on eBay alert me about who to trust and who not to trust when I am making a purchase. Statistics provided on internet forums allow me to know how long other community members have been participating in the community forum and how many posts they have contributed.

Amazon provides me with behavioral patterns of others who have sought information about books or music I am currently searching. I know about similar titles they have looked at and I am privy to their ultimate choice. (Of the users who have looked at book X, Y and Z, 73% chose to buy book X) Continue reading Implicit Web: Information Voyeurism

uPhoto: A View Behind Your Camera


A few weeks ago my daughter Lauren came to Richmond to visit. I know she wanted to see me but the big attraction was an Andrew Bird concert at Toad’s Place. Lauren is a big Andrew Bird fan and had always lamented the fact that Bird didn’t venture into the New York area. She was psyched to see the concert and told me that, once he took the stage she would be right down in front. The above pictures will give you a good idea how close she was to the stage.

I chose to remain a little away from the crush of the stage and wasn’t able to see where Lauren was. Scanning the crowd in front of me, other than dark, indistinguishable outlines of people’s heads, all I could see was the glow from the LCD screens of digital cameras and mobile phones. It occurred to me that I might be able to spot her if I could identify the LCD from her camera. A bit of a stretch I know but it got me looking at the wide variety of glowing LCD screens arrayed between myself and the stage. Continue reading uPhoto: A View Behind Your Camera