The Bush of Goats

Marc Williams, writer & designer: 'Life's too short for empty slog ans'

A license for printing money

Having just completed a stint at the Big British Castle, the relationship between the independent micro production company (me) and the mega-corp (them) has been on my mind. Then the pepperami crowdsourced brief came up and I wondered about that as an idea for the license fee. make it a ‘membership fee’ paid as it currently is, but make payments back to people when they contribute something to the BBC ‘feed’. Maybe it’s responding to a question posed by a DJ on Radio 1-6 and you get 2.4p rebated if it’s aired, or maybe you form part of a large body of skilled individuals who are doing a costume drama and you’re drawing additional salary from other license fee holders who want to see it. Clearly, the detail isnt’ there (prolly never will be either) but the point is, you’re doing away with the broadcast hegemony at a time when the whole idea of being massive is starting to look increasingly creaky.

Just a thought.


Filed under: Thinking

It’s my birthday today

I’m 39 today, which is nice.

These people were also born on this day, at various points through history: Auguste Rodin, Roland Barthes, Grace Kelly, Neil Young, Naomi Wolf Mariella Frostrup and Charles Manson. You will no doubt have your own opinion as to which of those is the most pertinent of coincidences.

There are also a couple of events which really stand out:

On the 12th November, 1980 Tim Berners Lee submitted his first proposal for what would come to be the World Wide Web.

But better *even* than that, I recently learned that my all-time favourite internet meme took place on the same day that I exploded onto the world.

Thank you, Oregon State Highway Division. I can think of no more fitting event.

Read all about it:

Filed under: Uncategorized

ReFryed Celebrity

So, Stephen Fry, national institution and all round good egg, is apparently ‘having a break’ from Twitter. Can’t says as I blame him. His position is surely an intolerable compromise.

What I think is interesting about Twitter is its disavowal of the idea of ‘audience’. It’s not about broadcasting (despite the oft-stated criticism of it that it exists to tell people every tedious detail of your life): it’s about saying. If I want to say something, I am saying it for my benefit, not for that of others. If someone hears it, and says it again or wants to hear what I have to say in the future, that’s nice, but it is not the reason I am doing it. I am speaking for my own satisfaction, not an audience (and if you were to explore my twitter profile, you’d see I don’t really have an audience).

So, I am currently pondering the idea that the act of ‘saying’, in digital spaces, is an expresison of thought. I, Marc Williams, am a complex collection of lots of stuff, but digitally, via twitter, @bushofgoats¬†is just one tiny particle. Nothing I say matters more (or less) than anyone else. I cannot help but be free of ego, amongst so many other 140-string particles. My un-uniqueness is a liberation.

Does this, in fact, make Twitter the dawning of an agglomerated Artificial Intelligence? Hmm.

In Iain Banks’s science fiction novels, he has created what I really hope turns out to be our future: The Culture is a universe-spanning, aeon-wide collection of races who just get on with their own thang. What occurred to me about it, thinking this stuff, was how it has no celebrities within it. And that seems to make perfect sense. What use does an egalitarian collection of billions have for individuals for everyone else to watch and pore over?

But back to Stephen Fry. How to square being a proud node; a sore thumb in an age of supple fingers.

Imagine you are he. You are listened to by nigh-on a million people. Your thoughts, your inconsequential digital utterances, are perceived by this mass not for their being said, but for their being heard. Some of the tiny constituent elements who hear him have projected his celebrity, his non-un-uniqueness, onto themselves and feel entitled to speak to him as equals. But he simultaneously has to manage the brand that is S. Fry across all manner of other, older channels: if he responds (as any good particle is entitled), he is criticized, if he ignores them he is vilified. How can he be both granule and hill together?

And so he is trapped, trying to balance the old idea of celebrity status with the future’s idea of numbers so vast that the idea of being famous becomes ridiculous. Maybe, if we really want to achieve world peace, equality for all, no poor, etc, etc, we have to kill celebrity first. We all need to be nobody, for everyone to be somebody.

And as for Twitter, if I do ever achieve any kind of public fame (please god no) I will be locking my account and permitting only those people I am happy to speak in front of to read my thoughts.


Filed under: Noticing


November 2009


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