Collecting Samples

Do you want links? Because I’ll give you some damn links, I’m not afraid of you! I’m not afraid of NOBODY!

Dominant, a UC Berkeley alumnus who actually attended the much-publicized class on Shakur in the late ’90s, says that he finds value in hip-hop studies, provided they take the long view. “With hip-hop and all black music, you can’t talk about the art separate from a lot of other things,” he says. “You can’t talk about hip-hop as an art form without talking about the people, the economics, how and why it was made. You have to be pretty thorough.”
Finding ways to teach and study hip-hop from within a university setting is not easy. “I worry that scholars like us get so obsessed with trying to justify hip-hop that we end up running in circles,” says Berkeley grad student Felicia Viator, a DJ who’s finishing up a doctorate in history.

  • Businessweek’s Catherine Holahan looks at the unfiltered conversations that have sprung up in light of community changes after USA Today’s recent web redesign. I don’t know that I’d make a change in the cultural assumptions of a site at the same time as aesthetic/UI changes, because then you don’t know which one caused everybody to lose their minds.
  • Speaking of which, I started a shitstorm by suggesting that Ask MetaFilter should have a white background. My personal experience is that the site is white, since I’ve customized my account, but I didn’t, uh… make a very good case that it should be the default because I was a bit uncharacteristically combative. On the other hand, I learned I’m a twit, a shrill, self-promoting, a-list retard who’s not good at building community, more than out of touch, prone to issuing stridently absurd protestations, deserved of getting pissed on by an elephant, who is only being taken seriously … because [I’m] friends with Matt Haughey and I’m encouraging selling out. One of my toughest critics in the thread had actually proposed a winning redesign in a contest on the site, an entry that featured a white background and was voted the winner by the entire community. I don’t know why people think the blogosphere is an unfriendly place, when an honest suggestion to change the background color on one subsite of a popular community blog that I’m a huge fan of can inspire those kinds of delightful, well-considered reactions. At least there was only one vague threat of violence.
  • I was surprised to find a list of Fall Out Boy’s favorite albums to be somewhat interesting.
  • Ask the Wizard, written by Feedburner CEO Dick Costolo is, flat out, the best new blog of 2007. The thing I love about great writing is it makes the pervasive truths seem self-evident and even obvious. Plus it’s actually funny, not another tech exec wearing a goofy tie and claiming to be full of ha-ha.
  • There was a lot of link love for the list of NYC’s ugliest buildings on Gridskipper, but the overlooked gem was the pan of the Astor Place Monster from the New Yorker a few years back. Man, that thing still startles me (in a bad way!) every time I walk by.
  • Dear Drew, have you considered changing the font on Fark’s homepage?
  • This is the old Top 5% of all Web Sites graphic that used to be used by Point. Which was actually Point Communications, which was actually at, until it sold to Lycos during a period of the web’s history 10 years ago that is apparently so old nobody caught the reference. Winning the meaningless award used to be accompanied by an email alerting you to the good news. I suspect Todd Whitney is not still toiling away at Lycos.
  • Indie rock is a cult of failure. Could be worse, it could be emo.
  • I spoke at the Northern Voice conference in Vancouver a little over a week ago, and there’s video of my presentation up on the web, albeit with suboptimal sound. But it kind of gives you a feel for what we were all talking about, if you have the patience to sit through it. (My part starts about five minutes in.)
  • I wanted to be uniformly supportive of the Times story about the struggle of Asian pop acts, but I’d felt kind of conflicted and couldn’t articulate why. Fortunately, Sree Sreenivasan articulated it concisely: We’re Asians too, dammit.
  • If you’ve somehow missed them, a few articles on the tech generation gap. Emily Nussbaum’s excellent, definitive look at the distinctions between the technological expectations of those born before and after 1977 in regard to privacy seems like the coming-out party for the topics danah has been talking about forever. A simpler, but still compelling, Tim Bajarin piece in PC Magazine complements it nicely. And the WaPo sez colleges have lost track of students because the schools are still trying to use phones and email to talk to kids who only use Facebook and IM. Whoops.
  • Here, take this: A capella Beastie Boys vocals from some of their best tracks.
  • Remind me to run all of this through the Cliché Detector later.
  • Someday, me and Kal Penn in a steel cage match for Most Famous Indian in America. Someday.