Lady Gaga-Born This Way

Record labels once feared the internet, probably because they never realised what potential it had for developing social tools, and then using them as an advertising dive board to infiltrate the shallow minded mass right at the deep end.

A few years ago, this platform was Myspace, which sadly launched the careers of the Artic Monkeys, and, perhaps a bit more positively, Lily Allen. Now however, you have Twitter, LastFm, Tumblr etc. Not Facebook though, only Mark Zuckerberg and apparently Justin Timberlake  are allowed to become rich from that. No musical talent to see here folks.

Lady Gaga is one of these internet-to-star types, a former songwriter who decided she could do better herself.  Seeing as these guys take up the 50% of the pop industry, that isn’t currently being occupied by whatever democratically-voted-for-warbler-from-whatever-television-reality-show-is-big this-week, this isn’t much of a shock, although considering the substantial success of the pop music situation, you have to really question how bad the music industry really is doing?

Born This Way is a dull title for a dull album, a paint by numbers joke that should be struck off under the trade descriptions act. Unless she was born plagiarising other, better pop artists, then the title is misleading. Obviously pandering to the pro equality youth (read: middle class teens with expendable income, and the adults who missed out on that stage), this is a collection of songs that are crafted to be easy to swallow, and have played at you in a chain pub, usually at volumes designed to tune out the crackling static that the Lady Gaga fanbase has instead of brain activity. Throwing in motivational lyrics such as “I was born this way”, and then juxtaposing them against edgy and controversial lyrics “Judas”… no, sod this, there is no way in which I can seriously critique an album so full of cliché and stereotype, especially as it clearly isn’t meant to be a comedy record. If Lady Gaga REALLY believes that this is good, she’s stupid. If she is doing it to make a fuck load of money from morons, she’s got a good manager. Either way, there is something valuable missing from the whole process: integrity.

Lady Gaga is almost certainly very talented, but she learned early in her career that people paid more attention to her for her stupid clothes and her pop-up-pirate penis, and so stopped making any effort. Maybe she should drop the pretence, and write a song entitled “my fans are all gullible cunts”.

And yeah, I’m going to go there: She isn’t as good as Madonna, but is ripping her off, even down the the British fetishism. Go away Lady Gaga, please just leave us alone.

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SOV Review: Geordie Finishing School For Girls

A short one this time.

The premise of this shit is simple. Take some arrogant posh cunts from the home counties, and mix them with some scummy cunts in Newcastle. The whole show sells itself on the concept of both exposing, and attempting to lessen the social inequality gap.  What it does, however, is make it far worse.

The last thing that this country needs is a media fuelled stereotype parade that is as disgustingly overblown as it is  openly discriminatory. So lets start on why this programme is just that. Well, a good place to begin would be the fact that the show is purposefully angled at making the “poor” folk looking better. This is for two reasons, both rather unsavoury. The first would be because “poor” is a bigger market. The are more viewing figures available in that market. The second is that they are statistically more likely to watch this shite anyway. As a “poor” person, this is depressing, but it’s the sad truth of the matter. My issue here is the editing to make the posh people look this way. Now don’t get me wrong: I’m ALL about the class warfare. But I’m also about the fair fight, and to be honest, when I to choose some people to figurehead my social movement, these clapped out teenage whores wouldn’t even figure in the ‘C’ team.

This is actually a serious issue for me. This whole show inadvertently insults me. You see, I’m a below poverty line bloke from the south. Holy shit, is there poverty in the south? You’re damn fucking right there is. I have the old sob story, namely 6 people living in a two bedroom council flat above an Indian takeaway when I was at school. Oh yeah, that beats your suburban two bed terrace in Newcastle. I moved up north for a better way of life, and no, that isn’t a joke. I got one too. So yeah, this representation of folk “from down south” offends me and everything that I, my family and my friends have ever worked hard to achieve. And yes, when I lived up north, I suffered this sort if discrimination (from some very well off northeners. If you have more than one car, or if you own your own home, like many of them do, you’re officially middle class, no matter how much brown ale you drink or how much arse cellulite you flash on Saturday night).

The double whammy comes, however, when you see the “typical Geordie lasses”. Are they fuck? They are skanky brainless, disease ridden whores, like you get north, middle and south, the ones that are harder to get rid of than Aids (and slightly less pleasant to have). These girls do NOT represent the north, or anyone really. They represent stupidity, worthlessness, and terrible upbringing, and you can be born with a whole silver cutlery drawer in your mouth and still end up this useless. This is not the social divide, this is awful television.

The northern girls go on about having no choice and how fate worked against them, and I could (but won’t) stand here a reel off examples that contradict what they are saying. It takes a special kind of talent to make the posh girls be the ones that you are rooting for, and maybe that’s the complete point. I don’t, however see why this would be the case? Why would anyone want to feel for the posh girls? They don’t need it! Like any reality tv show, these people appearing have been vetted by professionals, which means that only the brain damaged and the inbred have made it through to actual screening, thus making this officially the most useless piece of visual garbage since Lady Gaga’s fucking face.

Anyway, don’t watch this. It is insulting to real people, on both sides of the divide, and does nothing to fix it for us, or raise awareness of it for them. Fuck this show, fuck it until it dies crying.

High Voltage Festival… a review/comparison

If you are one of the 3 people who read this blog, you may have come across my Sonisphere bashing. Well, Soni wasn’t the only fest I attended this year.

The festival organisers of the bigger festivals in the UK have been on record referring to these smaller, more intimate affairs as “boutique festivals”. They explain this term as meaning smaller, more specialised, in terms of the music and the core audience. They are also almost definitely aware of just how shit it makes them sound, like an art bitch’s dearest haunt to buy lace and retro clothing. This is what we call a sneaky marketing ploy. Of course the truth of the matter is that neither Download nor Sonisphere have a much broader audience, being so firmly rooted in whatever decade of music is popular with the kids at the moment. Oh, Download has made efforts to expand its horizons to the older generation, but it dare not compromise its safety net of 16-25 year olds who want to get hammered and listen to something they saw on TV. High Voltage doesn’t seem to want to compromise like this. It’s early days yet, being only in its second year, but already it’s known for one very specific thing: the attitude that REAL rock music never dies.

The launch of High Voltage can be traced back to a fairly specific event, ripping it off in a manner that is as ruthlessly cold and businesslike as the larger festivals slyly belittling High Voltage in interviews. It started after Download 2009, where for the first time did Download not only sell out, but also had a day full of classic rock (and a field full of Dads). I was at this festival, and it was phenomenal. People stood up and took notice. Classic and Prog Rock fans were not only still willing to go see their heroes, but now they were middle aged, they also had that special rarity at a non-Glastonbury festival. I’m talking about disposable income.

The double whammy of the unexpected success of Download, came from the fact that younger audiences actually really liked this music too. This wasn’t Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd playing, this was ZZ Top, Journey and Whitesnake. These weren’t the bands that television had been banging on about since the members stopped playing, these were some of the finest artists still touring. And someone took notice. The next year, in association with Classic Rock magazine, High Voltage was launched, with a lineup to make every neck beard itch, and every anorak sweaty. With ZZTop and ELP on top billing, High Voltage was here and taking no prisoners. And I didn’t go. Why? It cost £150, that’s why. This year, the weekend cost £99, which already improved things a lot. It showed that these guys might actually listen to the punters.

This festival, a mere 30 mins or so from my front door, is good. Like, really fucking good. It’s reduced size, and more laid back audience members make for a great atmosphere. The shop to arena size ratio works nicely. Everything is flat, but nothing is hard to see. The televisions are at the proper height *cough*Sonisphere*cough*. The main stage compares to the Download second stage, in terms of size and capacity, but believe me when I say that it’s enough.  They send you your wristband in the post to speed up entry into the site. This festival is, actually, really really good.

Bar? Well, either no queues, or fast moving ones. NO PEAR CIDER. Same prices as Sonisphere. They give you your drinks as they come, which for me was in cans (ice cold). Considering I was drinking strong lager in a field in East London, I don’t think I could have felt more at home. So, what was bad? Well, it’s certainly a two day maximum jobbie. There isn’t enough shite for another day, although I doubt that it’s ever going to be an intention. There were a few sound cock ups, human errors I think, but some were pretty bad. Not much shade, but welcome to festivals in Britain. Oh and there was no sniffer dogs or any sort of in depth check like that. Perhaps sniffer dogs die from shock in East London, but lets just say you don’t need a super keen sense of smell to notice the additional atmosphere that was floating about your head. For me, this was sorta nice, because although I didn’t participate, it made me wonder how many aged hippies and rockers were happily reliving their youth. I’d like to have that kind of experience when I’m older. I can see it annoying other people though, so I think its contribution to the festival kinda has to stay on the fence.

So yeah, I had a good time. I guess the elephant in the room is the fact that this is a no camping festival.  If you aren’t local, this fest could easily run up a large festival sized bill in both accommodation and transport (if you couldn’t get any local accommodation). I live up the road though, so fuck that!

I saw more bands than I did at Soni, so here’s a roundup:

Michael Monroe: Great opener, looks like a melted Pamela Anderson, climbed the stage

Rival Sons: Amazing new band, very LedZep/Free influenced, give them a listen

Anathema: Prog. Not to my tastes, but seemed to play quite well.

Thin Lizzy: Far exceeded expectations, played every song I wanted them to. ‘Nuff said. (sound problems)

Slash: Very good, didn’t change my world, but didn’t hit a bum note.

Judas Priest: Incredible, so much better than the last time I saw them. Gonna miss these guys.

Furyon: I think it was these guys I saw… their songs seemed to be a string of pinch harmonics interrupted by some drumming. At least, to my old git ears.

Heavens Basement: Dull whippersnappers, did the best with the clearly-not-interested older crowd, but failed to impress. Not for me, but they did have a lot of energy. Your mum will fancy them.

Saint Jude: What a voice! Great new band, give them a see if they’re playing near you. I need to catch them again. Do it!

Michael Schenker : Fantastic showman, great musician, brought on Rudolph for “Rock you like a Hurricane”, and closed on “Doctor Doctor (Please)”. Had bad sound problems.

Thunder: One off reunion (apparently). Absolutely amazing, but had even worse sound problems at the beginning.

Black Country Communion: Far exceeded expectation, played “Burn” by Hughes’ Deep Purple just as I actually was.

Dream Theater: There’s only one Dream Theater in the world, for a good reason. Blinding gig and showmanship, but as with anything like this, it’s an endurance test to witness. Only band not to play the obvious hit, which was actually slightly disappointing. DT drum solo kinda made up for it though.

In conclusion, much better. Might be at Newquay Boardmasters in a few weeks, so watch this space.

News of The World

It’s a sham victory, but I’m going to revel in it. Proof that disproportionate pressure from the people can close down the society retarding newspapers. I raise my fist in celebration. Now to take on the rest of “News International”…

UPDATE: According to one newspaper (The Telegraph, clearly underplaying the magnitude of this news, like  scared schoolchild), Renault have pulled advertising from ALL Murdoch owned news outlets. YES.

Sonisphere Festival… a review/comparison

So here is a very brief review of the UK Sonisphere Festival, with comparisons to its main competitor, the Download Festival.

Straight off the bat, the line-up this year for Sonisphere was great. Kudos. Anthrax played an ok set, but as a John Bush-era Anthrax fan, Joey Belladonna just doesn’t cut it for me. Megadeth played the best performance that I’ve seen of them in… well, years. Top work. Due to unforeseen circumstances I didn’t see Slayer, but I caught all of Metallica, and it was as blinding as you’d expect. My Metallica issue was that they seem to be playing the same set list at every Sonisphere in Europe, and their set felt like it lacked that personal touch and enthusiasm that Metallica so often bring to their live shows. Still, there are few bands in the world who can play like that, so I’ll let them off.

So, in comparison to Download? Sonisphere isn’t as good.This isn’t a fanboyish attack on fans of Sonisphere, but it’s just cold maths on my experience. After three years being established, you’d have hoped that the festival was better put together (especially considering the experience of the organisers) but they seem to be too interested in creating a Euro-dominating chain of branded festivals, and perhaps it’s this fest-by-numbers approach that leaves a lot to be desired. Here’s a note: chains work when an original business gains popularity for a particular reason, and not when people throw buckets of money at a dubious concept.

Anywho, why do I feel this way? Well, let’s start with the layout. One of Download’s biggest “issues” is the walk from campsite to arena. Personally, while it isn’t ideal, I feel that this segregation leads to a far better community feeling at the fest, but maybe that’s just me. Also, I quite like walking.
I’d heard that Sonisphere had contiguous campsites and arenas, which sounded like an improvement on the long walk, plus the greater possibility of a better nightlife, with more people willing to stay out, safe in the knowledge that they wouldn’t face an exhausting walk in the dark. The reality of this is somewhat different though, as the campsites are still large and far away. If you want any sort of peace, you have to camp so far away from the arena, it renders any possible benefits moot.
On a similar note, the campsites are on a variety of hills and steep inclines, which I can’t imagine is fun drunk, in the rain, or drunk in the rain. They were also pretty exhausting to walk up and down, something that the tarmac and flat grass of Download doesn’t inflict on you.

While the campsites may give the drunk teens vertigo, most of the arena isn’t must better. With some of the fairground rides parked perilously on steep mounds, as well as the bar and food stalls, I began to feel slightly seasick. Oh, but there is one part that isn’t on a hill at all: the main stage.
This slightly annoyed me, but infuriated some of my shorter companions. There is no incline at all by the main stage, meaning that for shorter people   it’s impossible to see the band from a large percentage of the arena grounds. For some reason the television screens were placed very low on the stage, meaning that dependant on location, many of my entourage had views ranging from nil to fuck all. While this would be an improvement at a Lady Gaga concert, it’s not so good when you are trying to watch actual musical talent.

Sonisphere decided to roll out a dual stage system that people had apparently been demanding, where two stages that faced each other would be used, so that they could be interchangeably performed on and set up simultaneously. This meant that on the “first” and “second” stages (I’m not going to bother referring to the stages by their space themed names) would not clash bands, and the festival goers could then watch everything (at least on those stages) that they desired. To me, this seemed like an over complicated solution to a problem is best solved with intelligent booking and band placement, something that all other festivals opt to do, but dual stages are the unique selling point of Sonisphere (I think), so don’t expect them to go away. In theory it could be quite a good system, but the reality is again hampered by the natural hills and slopes, meaning that simply turning around to view the next stage isn’t an option. The second stage is out of sight from the first one, and is a fair walk. It’s no where near as far apart as the main/second stages at Download, but problems can arise when large portions of the main stage crowd head over to the second stage at Sonisphere, because when there’s nothing fucking on the main stage, there is something new on the second stage. At least clashes demand something of the pundit, namely that they choose beforehand what they would like to see, and prioritise, sometimes leaving another performance early. Truth be told, it wasn’t the biggest issue, but it sure didn’t work the way that it was sold to me.

Other comparisons? Well, the bar didn’t have pear cider, staple of festival booze, and it cost more than Download (at £4 a drink), BUT I always got served very quickly, and they ran a cash bar, so I’d go for that being a win. They had a large selection of drinks, but I stuck to lager. Would have preferred pear cider. Just sayin’. Sonisphere also hosts a bottle decanting tent outside the festival, meaning you can bring in any booze that’s put in a plastic bottle, definitely a pro, (doubly so when you consider that you can walk straight through to the main arena without being searched again).  Sonisphere runs the seemingly mandatory cups-for-cash scheme, like every other sodding festival in the world. Considering children under a certain age are allowed in for free, I can see some wiley slave labourers making a fortune out of this. It’s like gold farming, but with added elements of child abuse. So… a win?

The usual selection of stalls, food and rides were available, much like Downloads, only due to the layout difference, the day ticket holders got more than they do at Download. So kudos there, I guess. I suppose it’s handy for people who don’t live close to Afflecks Palace/Camden Town etc.

The layout of Sonisphere means that arena and campsite capacity is equal, meaning they want to only sell weekend tickets. This is ok in theory, but very few non-Glastonbury festivals sell out, and so to shift remaining tickets, this years festival was opened up to day ticket people, who objected to shelling out more money for less bands (compared to Download). Again, this was great in theory, but in practice was a bit of a confusion. To get to car parks or bus stops, you have to leave through the camp sites, which aren’t very well guarded. I could have easily stayed for the weekend if someone had pitched a tent for me. The wristbands were paper, so any one who had got there early could have emailed me a photo of it, and via photoshop I could have easily whipped up a sufficiently realistic wristband. There were nowhere near enough staff to police this. There was also a lack of information regarding where anything was. I saw some tents and stuff, but couldn’t find them. Official merchandise was thin on the ground, bar t shirts, and I had no idea where first aid, or pharmaceutical stalls were. I didn’t need them, but it’s always nice to know.

There was a massive bother entering and leaving the site. The shuttle busses had a 2 hour queue heading into the site at midday on Friday. This is confusing and agrravating in equal measure. Aggravating when there are a few hundred people queuing impressively patiently, while no less than four bus drivers decided to take their lunch breaks directly in front of the queue (no lie), despite the arena opening at around the same time. It was confusing as you’d have thought getting people into the bars and shops before bands were on would be something of a business priority for the festival organisers. The situation was similar on the way out. This in itself is a bitch because the last train leaves only 20 minutes after the headline act finishes: you’re lucky to be out of the arena by then. The taxi ranks was no better, and the £5 cab to the station (as advertised on the official website) cost £15. Apparently the prices change after a certain time, so I’d recommend that the festival organisers research this a bit better, and/or strike a deal with the cab companies. Similarly, having maybe a few more late night trains running especially for the festival would not go amiss. That and more regular shuttle busses. It got to the point where people were being asked £150 to get to London (fact: it’s not that far away), and people were actually paying it. Me? Alongside maybe 60+ other metalheads, I had to sleep in the station subway. Tramps en masse.

So, Sonisphere? Well, it’s a hell of a lot closer to my home than Download, but completely lacked the same atmosphere and spirit. People were friendly, although we didn’t really meet any random people like we might at Download, and it was definitely a big ol’ sausage fest. It has some growing and reorganising to do before I can take it seriously, and before I’d reconsider going back. It lacks that happiness and mixture of people that it needs to capture the charm and consistency of Download. So no, it isn’t as good. Oh, and it didn’t have any fucking pear cider.

PS A festival without amateur tits being flashed on screen is like a World Cup with realistic expectations. Un-British and  Disappointing.

Chickenfoot-Chickenfoot

I’ve now listened to this album long enough to have complaints, so lets rip!

Seriously, that IS my attitude. I hate current film or music reviews, where the reviewer gets caught up in the moment and atmosphere of things, and gives  a review that they’d later regret. I also hate it when shortly after something is released, reviewers withdraw their articles, due to  contrary opinions from the public (Kerrang! and St Anger, I’m looking at you here). As such, I tend to leave all reviews until long since anybody last cared, to get the most accurate result out of it. There’s a method to this crap, you know.

Like most other reviews I’ve done, this is mostly inspired by a new release. I guess it’s retrospective, before the retro really kicks in.  I like to deliver them slightly too late for anything constructive to be taken from it either. That way we don’t have to worry about law suits, and me becoming a millionaire. Nobody wants that.

Soooo… Chickenfoot. I remember hearing about this “supergroup” when it was still a rumour, and I’ll be honest: I was fucking stoked. I’ve seen Joe Satriani about a bazillion times live, I think Chad Smith is a great drummer, and surely Sammy and Michael were going to bring some Van Halen grandeur to the stage… what could be better? Everyone was belly aching about Them Crooked Vultures, or whoever, but for me Chickenfoot was going to be the big deal.

Their eponymous debut went down the garage band jam-session type of route, as opposed to the stadium rock kinda route, which all of the members could pull off without breaking a sweat. This gains a lot of respect for me, as they really are starting from scratch. It’s also the weakest aspect of the album.

This album is as ye-haw American as possible, and it’s VERY Sammy Hagar. He’s singing about the kinda trailer trash women he likes, and about Mexicans (whom he lovingly refers to as “Wetbacks”, although I don’t think it’s supposed to be racist). He’s powering out his drawl, and it makes me wonder how he ever fronted Van Halen. These are VERY different bands, and it’s a bit disappointing.

I think I was expecting stadium rock, with a funk feel, as contributed by  Chad and Joe, who in particular feels like he’s sitting in the background a lot. Perhaps it’s because he’s constantly in the foreground in his own music, but you don’t put Joe fucking Satriani in a band, and expect him to just play by numbers. The one big contribution he makes is the riff for “Down the Drain”, easily one of the best rock songs I’ve ever heard. Another good song on this is Get It Up, or Avenida Revolution… actually they’re all good. Only Down the Drain is really great though.

Straight up, I say if you like rock music, listen to this album, There’s room to grow here, and I think they should concentrate full time on this project.  There’s a live DVD which is far better than the CD, strangely enough. Get that in HD, and watch in awe at Satch’s skills, Chad’s punk attitude, Sammy’s ‘fro and Michael Anthony’s impossibly large neck, complete with mullet.

Where should Chickenfoot go? Here’s a guide by guide step:

1) Better lyrics. Stop Sammy from writing them all.  Or, if he has to, change the smut. They’re all smutty, but smut can be handled so much better. Case in point: Whole Lotta Love by Led Zeppelin. If Led Zep could get away with lyrics like “I wanna give you every inch of my love”, and have the song put as the intro to kid friendly Top Of The Pops, you guys can too.

2) Rub some funk on it. If there was ever a band that could deviate into 10 minute rambling jams, it’s this one. These have needed a comeback since the seventies. Them Crooked Vultures have tried, but just compare the calibre of musicianship here. Do it.

3) Pull the songs out of America. I get it, you guys are American manlymen, but the great rock bands never let that overshadow their lyrics. Make it more accessible, and maybe a bit more topical.

4) Push Joe. Every time he writes something awesome, send him back and make him do it better. He can. He’s Joe Satriani.

5) Glue Chad to the drum kit. He’s going to keep fucking off back to the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, like a battered housewife. You guys need to make an intervention man.

6)  Tour this one more, and add festivals to your schedule. Festivals are impossibly popular, and even if you ignore everything else I say, this is a must. There ARE people that will see you, and love you, out of interest, who may not care enough to listen to your cd, or visit an independent show. Tour festivals. You guys know you can command a mid afternoon slot on main stage anywhere, or even a higher slot on a second stage at a rock fest. Do it.

Yeah, this post was pretty light, but I’m still pretty spent from the last one 🙂

Death To The Fake Democracy!

What a title! And if you’re wondering, yeah, I’m about to get a bit over dramatic. However, I honestly believe what I’m about to write… so opinions would be nice 🙂

It’s no secret amongst my friends that I’m fairly sceptical about democracy. I’m not a communist or anything before people start moaning, but I do believe that the democracy that we are given, isn’t real. What we in Britain do, is vote-in a person, who we know little about, to be our dictator. I think the latest Labour government proved that. We didn’t vote-in Gordon Brown, we were denied a general election when one was called for. Those things shouldn’t happen in a democracy, it’s not what the people asked for. Similarly, we voted in numbers for both the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives this time round, but neither of us got what we wanted. We got the “Con-Dem” coalition. And then, to prove how little we know about our leaders (and vice versa), Mr Nick Clegg openly supported a complete betrayal of his election promises, effectively dooming the future of his party. Way to go there, Nick. Oh sure, I believe in my heart that he was doing it while thinking of the long run (such as being able to gain Conservative support for a change to the voting system, so that his party could gain real power next time, and force through the changes that he truly believed in), but that’s pure assumption right there. In fact, it was a measure of how little he knew about the bastard bedfellows he’d made.

The main way our democracy is a joke, from an ideological perspective, is that our votes are not equal. If, like me, you live in a more congested area, then your vote counts for far less than someone who lives out in the middle of nowhere. An individual in Cumbria has more say than someone in London. That is intrinsically wrong (because I live in London). Welcome to the “seats” system.

The classic criticism of democracy is simple. What gives an individual the right to vote? How are they qualified to make such a decision? Why should someone in London, with their own problems, have a say in politics that stretch to Scotland? These are all very valid points, and the simple and honest answers are that a)nothing, b)they’re not, and c)because it’s fair.

Now, it’s a sad world where the only truly fair system is one where everyone is equally discriminated against (and even that doesn’t happen in this country of favouritism), but, like Winston Churchill said “…democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried”.

Well now that’s changing. A revolution is already under way, the seeds have been planted, and everyone has been infected. Here’s the cherry on the cake: you’re all involved, and you don’t even realise it.

For years now ONE thing has changed in our world, and as such, has changed our world beyond the point of recognisability. We have accepted this change into our homes, we walk around different people than we did 20 years ago, and we are now an almost different species. What is this miraculous change? Technology.

Now, that may seem like a bit of a weak outcome to such a build up, but let me guarantee you, there is nothing weak about this. ALL technology has ONE function, which is communication. Simple. At it’s very source, that’s all technology does. Using metals, and electricity, and very precise machinery, computers and phones all communicate. Why does this make any contribution to politics? Let me explore this with you…

(I wrote the following months ago, so if it feels a little detached from the main text, that would be why)

Have you heard about 2010 Thai political protests? How about the 2011 Bahraini protests? Or the 2011 Egyptian revolution? The two large protests in the same about of years in Iran? The Algerian protests? No?

Well, that’s unfortunate, but hey, you’ll have perked your ears up over Call of Duty to hear about the Libyan revolution even if it’s only because there’s a war there. Wait, did I just mention 6 large conflicts that have taken place in the last 2 years? Yes, yes I did. Not including the “Second Republic” in Ireland. Or Tunisia. Or Yemen. Or Jordan. Or Syria.  Those are only the ones to my knowledge as well.

Now there are a few obvious connections between all of these protests. None of them happened in western countries, which might explain a general lack of interest amongst the everyday person in the western world. They were all political in nature, and are all generally aimed at removing or changing their individual government for being generally dicks. Political commentators may flinch at my over simplification of these serious events, but yeah, that’s what it kinda boils down to.

There are other links here, that the world news hasn’t really focused on, because they don’t involve any of the gratuitous death and violence that the news sells itself of. Most notably for me, is that these protests were helped, and fuelled by interactive communication. Now, this might seem a little strange, but bear with me here.

People in the west have been communicating with each other for a long time, and each major technological advance is more or less focused on improving that communication. People like to talk, share insight, and generally communicate, and lately with the internet that’s become easier than ever. Now smart phones are capable of accessing the net with 3G, affectively making the internet fully portable. That’s an amazing advance really. I mean, sure, you can contact people you know with phones, but the internet is free, can contact large groups at a time, and you don’t even have to know them! Blog sites and web forums are virtual conversations between strangers, and you know what? People on these sites find kindred spirits. They find communities that wouldn’t exist without the internet. Geeks have found each other, and popular culture has found geeks. People can date, relate and connect with people, when maybe in real life they felt alone. And that’s the link between these revolutions.

It would be ignorant to say that any oppressed person enjoys that position, but if that’s your life, and you don’t see how a person can fight an oppressive government, you aren’t likely to try and change the status quo. Remember that these are the countries and governments where you couldn’t stand up on a soapbox and claim foul play, because they’d just take you away.  Not only that, but a lot of people in these countries just know any different. I read online about “human rights violations” in certain eastern countries, but you know what? Not only do they have a different culture to us, but they don’t know any different. People criticised the opening ceremony to the Beijing Olympics, as being a testament to slavery and abuse, but you have to really wonder if the people in the ceremony felt the same way.

Either way, the people in these countries didn’t like the way that their governments were working. So why the sudden rebellion? Internet. Simple. At the core of all of these protests there are the same people. Young people, including a disproportionate amount of women, comparatively speaking. All able to access the internet in order to educate themselves, and communicate with others. I once made the observation that many people use technology that they don’t understand? That goes for governments to. They are never going to be able to fully outsmart, outwit, or control the internet, nor can they the people that know it better than them. Don’t get me wrong, everyone in these countries was aware of the problems that were happening, but these were the people who could, and did, change it.

If this all sounds like an overwhelming success, it isn’t. At least, not on a grand scale. No government is safe from this kind of revolution, and smaller ones are popping up all over the place. In Britain lately there have been a few “marches” lately, from students and trade unions unhappy with the current government. Yeah there have been similar in France and America and suchlike, but I know the British ones better. Now, marching is a time honoured tradition in this country, and has never really gone away. So why are these protests gaining so much media attention. Well, it’s mostly because they’ve been turning violent, or destructive. Why is that? Undoubtedly it’s because of the increased numbers of people there. Why so many people? Social networking. That little tabs on your facebook page? That’s right, the events tab. That right there is why. Oh, not everyone is swayed by an invite, but they are swayed by peer pressure, encouragement and viral campaigns, things that all of these events use, regardless of actual intention. And just making someone aware of a march is likely to attract those who wouldn’t actively seek one.

Just to use a contrasting situation, in 2002 around 400,000 people turned out in central London, some to protest, and some to support anti fox hunting legislation that was being bandied around at the time. The marches were side actually side by side each other, and being an animal rights issue in Britain, everyone cared. Despite the close proximity between the two groups, there was very little in the way of violence or problems. Why? I’d imagine because the only people who went out on that march were people who truly, honestly gave a shit. Remember, facebook wasn’t around until 2 years later. So why the difference now? More people, who wouldn’t actively attend such a demonstration.

Now I can’t say that facebook is causing all of these problems. That would be a lie. Facebook is nothing more than a tool. People are causing these problems, and the reason is almost certainly because after 60 years or so both of our major political parties have been taking turns to fuck our country up as much as possible, with our third choice party immediately turning over to their political opposition the second they had any chance at power. People are pissed. A lot of these marches are about issues that a lot of the attendees don’t really know anything about and probably only superficially care about. They wouldn’t even be aware of the marches, had social networking not informed them of it all. Which gets to the real crux of the problem.

Lies, untruths, coercion, opinion, and suchlike are all forms of information and communication. We’ve already been “exposed” to this in the medium of newspapers a lot, albeit in a biased and untruthful way, thanks to freedom of speech having been opportunistically hijacked by super capitalism. Everything on the internet was put up there by someone else. There is no internet quality control, and very little censorship. In fact, it’s about as “free” as anything can get in this world. People are reactionary creatures, as well as creature who like to socially fit in which is why systematic ideologies, like religious or secular groups are so widely subscribed to. When this extremely high level of communication finally gets to the point where every viewpoint, political ideology, and opinion is represented, and has been expressed, it means that you, as a person is going to have to choose what the truth is. Some may say “that’s better than having the truth dictated to you”, but I’m not so sure. Having a “pick your own fact” looks like it could go really bad.

Anyway, that’s not really an issue here (currently). What is an issue however, is how the governments are going to deal with it. We’ve seen the music industry try, and fail, to monitor and legislate content on the internet. We’ve watched actual governments trying to go after wikileaks, but that’s never going to happen when those guys are so much better at computer stuff than the government is. I’m pretty sure that the conservative core that makes up ALL western political parties is going to instinctively give out knee jerk reactions when this shit starts becoming an issue, mainly because of their own ignorance of the internet. “Shut it down” they may say, “get the ISP’s to filter all content”… yeah, right. That’s not going to happen.

My guess? The strangest revolution of all time. Governments are going to have to adapt and evolve around the internet. They won’t be able to lie or make false promises any more,  because some angry as fuck kid is going to call them out on it, and start some trouble.  The government of the future is going to not only going to HAVE to be honest, but actually give out information to people directly, whether it’s in the shape of a podcast or whatever. And again, they can’t lie, because someone will call them out on this. I’d kinda love this to happen, make public servant actually have to serve, and ask people if it’s going right. They’ll have to work in the interest of the greatest number of people; it’s the only fair system. Is this a good future? Depends on what people’s opinions are really, and unfortunately, at the same time this would happen, we’d also be having to choose our own “facts”. Which is going to put a whole load of pressure on social conditioning….

ANYWAY, this is turning into one of the longest blog posts I’ve ever contributed, so I’m going to have to try and wrap it up somehow. Will this new system be great? Nah, probably not. The same issues still apply, really. Why do we accept printed media over digital? It’s because it feels real, and trust worthy, while the internet, especially sites like Wikipedia, are customisable. The truth is, however, that a human being, flaws and all, wrote that information down, while being moderated by another. There is no absolute truth or fact in the universe, and as such, we will remain as poorly informed as before.  So, why bother writing this? Simple: We are heading towards a new world of democracy, one where governments are held more responsible. In face, we will be in a world of super democracy, where we can choose everything ourselves, and you’d better believe it’s going to shake things up. No wonder politicians are trying to rein in the internet. It’s never going to happen though. Sleep tight people…