Relocating - please follow the link for new content

This archive will stay here - but you can find new posts (as well as this archive) at my new website which is at It's the new home for Stuart Eglin Online - including the blog, musings, and details of the publications and services which I have available. Take a look - it's worth a visit!

Monday, 31 October 2005

County Kerry - Glenbeigh

Back from a few days away in Ireland. Visiting friends, and marvelling at the constant rain! We spent a few days in Kerry, in a small village called Glenbeigh which is beautiful. We had all day views of the Dingle Peninsula, which changed by the minute with the change of light.

Plans to go whale and dolphin watching were cancelled due to bad weather, but that didn't take away from the experience.

I'll post some photos over the coming days - if any of them were worth looking at.

Saturday, 22 October 2005

Monetisation versus Open Source

There is an interesting tension building on the internet between the whole principle that anyone who blogs or podcasts might want to get to the situation where they can monetise what they do (an Americanism for "Make Money out of!") – and the concept that the web is the means by which to provide vast amounts of content in an Open Source way.

For an example of the monetisation concept, I look to the work being done by Adam Curry in the podcasting world – he is mindful of the free-at-source roots of podcasting but can see the opportunities too, and is looking to monetise this sector. I'm not critical of this. There are loads of podcasters producing content for reasons of passion and obsession rather than for commerical gain. But there are many people who want to generate income. Adam Curry is working ingeniously to deliver business models which make that possible.

Around the issue of Open Source I think the approaches of Tom Peters and Seth Godin are really interesting. Both of them have a growing store of freely downloadable material for people to read. I guess they figure that they make plenty of money and the issue is about getting readership.

Although they presumably also realise that giving away free electronic content does convert into sales in a world where people still prefer the real printed page to browse and stick on their shelf. And it is this translation of free to purchase that leads to something else.

There is actually a 3rd way in all of this – something at the interface between monetisation and open source. I guess in software terms it would be shareware. But that isn’t quite what I mean. I’m talking about the way in which it is possible to build market share (something Amazon did in the early stages of its business where it lost warehouses full of cash selling at ridiculously low prices to get customers), build readership (Godin & Peters) and develop a meme-like interest through the ‘give it away for free’ approach. I guess this idea needs more work, but I am sure that we are on the brink of some new business models, and exciting new ideas.

I have written before about the 'Creative Commons' idea - this weblog has a creative commons license. This is another aspect of this wider picture. The challenge which faces web publishers (bloggers?), podcasters and other net-entrepreneurs is to work out how to weave through all of this and get out of the net what we want to, whilst ensuring that we give the reader / surfer what they want too.

There is a lot of talk at the moment about Web 2.0 which will take us into the next era of the web, beyond the market place which it has become of late. Exciting times are ahead - more thought is needed about the collision of monetisation, open source and creative commons to create new ways of doing things.

Friday, 21 October 2005

Earthquakes and poetry

I keep a regular track of the visitors to the series of weblogs which I host using sitemeter. This helps me to see how many visitors are looking at the site, how they get there, and a rough idea of where they are located.

Yesterday someone did a search on MSN Search looking for 'poems on earthquake' and found my weblog for the poetry press which I run. There is a book of poetry which I wrote a few years ago called 'Umbrian Images' which includes a poem about the earthquake in Assisi in 1997. The site visitor was in Pakistan and was therefore presumably looking for poetry about the Pakistan earthquake.

Well, as a response to this, I thought I should do two things. First, post the poem about Assisi - I think it brings into focus the difference between these two disasters. This year has been filled with disasters of immense scale and suffering. It is easy to become numb to it all. But I think we just need to keep responding, doing what we can. The world of global media is a two-edged sword which offers us information on an unprecedented scale and immediacy - but it does give an armageddon quality to all of this. Our reaction and support is vital. (There's a useful post about the impact of the internet on our view of disasters by Seth Godin here.) Which brings me to the second thing I can do as a response. Follow the link to the Disasters Emergency Committee to donate to the Appeal for the Asian Earthquake. Please help.

Assisi Earthquake
(some words taken from a Daily Telegraph article)

On the western edge of town
firemen fear the roof of the upper basilica
might not withstand
heavy rainfall.

The magnificent campanile’s bells
which sound when St Francis’s birds flock
have been eerily silenced as if
their tolling might be enough
to bring the tower crashing down.

The restorer says
“I know the fresco which included this detail.
I’ve restored it twice before,
to see it like this makes my heart sink.”

One local says of the monks,
“I don’t see any of them
rolling up their sleeves
and getting to work with a spade.”

twenty five thousand people
have no homes.

we look at moments of time
without the context of history
and emphasis becomes distorted.


Thursday, 20 October 2005

Svarte Greiner's music mixes

Type Records has a podcast feed where you can download mp3 files of music mixes. There are about 20 different downloads there - each is about an hour long. The link - - is badged as a 'radio' page. I like the idea of this. The music mixes are eclectic, mostly a mixture of ambient / jazz / modern classical. There's a lot of music from the Rune Grammafon label, and plenty of Arvo Part, Dead Can Dance etc.

My favourite so far is a mix called 'under the leaves' by Svarte Greiner (aka Deaf Center's Erik Skodvin) - music from Arvo Part, Arve Henriksen, Julie London, Aphex Twin, Max Richter (a beautiful highlight), Biosphere and Cliff Martinez combine to make an hour of stunning sound. Download it and enjoy!

Wednesday, 12 October 2005

M Scott Peck dies

I just found out today that M Scott Peck died at the end of September. He was 69. There is a full obituary in the Telegraph, a UK paper, which ends rather grudglingly and rudely in my view. Scott Peck wrote some fantastic books - to comment on his inability to write great songs seems like a mean-spirited sort of comment to me.

I read 'The Road Less Travelled' in the early 90s and was hugely influenced by it. The beginning 'Life is difficult' must be one of those great one-liners that helps with the process of growing up. It sits alongside 'life isn't meant to be fair' as one of those things that moved me forward in life.

I read several of his other books too - 'The Different Drum' is a wonderful book about building communities. My favourite book is 'In Search of Stones: A Pilgrimage of Faith, Reason and Discovery' which describes a journey which he made through Britain looking at ancient sites with standing stones. It's a spiritual read, and an enjoyable one too.

I was sad to hear that Scott Peck had left this life.

For a more recent post on this subject please click here

Wednesday, 5 October 2005

Borders - too many people

I went to our local Borders last weekend for a couple of hours. This should have been fun - books, CDs and Starbucks. Unfortunately each time I go to this store it becomes more and more popular.

Why do car park designers have no idea how to design them in ways that avoid gridlock. I was gridlocked getting into the car park - and then again trying to get out. Then there was the human equivalent of a traffic jam at Starbucks - too many people with not enough seats and tables. It was chaos. There was nowhere to sit and browse, which is the whole point of the ambience of these places.

The whole experience showed me that the success of a place can become its failing too. Very zen!

Tuesday, 4 October 2005

Favourites - going going gone

I spent some time last night checking through my favourites on Internet Explorer, looking to see what has happened to some of the many sites I have flagged over the last few years. It was a process that really showed me how ephemeral the internet can be. About 75% of all the links either didn't work at all, or were to temporary pages redirecting to another site. It's incredible to see how quickly things disappear on the net.

This makes it only too clear that publishing on the net doesn't necessarily mean that something is always out there. So many great sites have bitten the dust for one reason or another.

There are services set up to archive the internet - so I guess that archive pages of some of these sites will be sitting on some server somewhere - out in the deeper internet. But they are as good as lost to the casual browser.

All those billions of pages appearing and then disappearing - all that effort being wiped away in the blink of a computer screen.

Monday, 3 October 2005

E F Schumacher - Small is beautiful

I am a few pages from the end of "Small is beautiful" by EF Schumacher. This is the first time I have read a book about Economics since I was at school. Although it is actually about a lot more than just Economics.

It was written over 30 years ago, and yet its preoccupations with ecology, the distinction between consumables and resources that we can't replace (fossil fuels!), issues of scale in the workplace, and the impact of technology on people's work - are as relevant today as they were when he was writing.

Schumacher talks about Third World aid, stressing that simply giving money doesn't help. We need to work with bankrupt economies to ensure that they build in capacity - ensure that through the use 'Intermediate Technologies' we are bridging the widening gap between our economies and theirs.

The main thing that has changed since Schumacher was writing, is that the gap has widened, probably to a greater extent than he could have imagined. The use of Aid is still a cynical and exploitative process by Western governments. Live 8 has come and gone, and the media has moved on to the next issue. The euphoria around that event has been replaced with the realisation that this is a long haul, not an issue that can be resolved in a few weeks of media frenzy.

Schumacher's book is an interesting read, because it helps with understanding the origins of the ecological movement. It gives a key historical perspective to the changes that we are seeing in the world. It is unnerving to realise that the issue of global warming and the limit to the world's resources was being raised as an issue 30 years ago, and being largely ignored then.

I also found it really interesting to read Schumacher's views on nationalised industry and issues of ownership - views that are very much out of fashion at the moment. It is refreshing to read them and realise that the arguments are robust and could be argued into the political debate to give some freshness to a world where there always seems to be only one right way to look at things.

All-in-all it is a book well worth ploughing through to open your mind to some of the big issues that stretch beyond the latest fad of our media-driven society.

Sunday, 2 October 2005

David Hykes on WNYC - overtone singing

WNYC - Soundcheck: Harmonic Universe (March 31, 2005)

Some weeks ago, someone posted a comment on this blog, in response to my comments about the overtone singing of Okna Tsahan Zam. The link above was posted by that person. It points to a US radio website with a link to a radio broadcast that you can hear with an interview with David Hykes who uses overtone singing. To quote from the site:

"Composer and educator David Hykes David and his ensemble The Harmonic Choir are celebrating their 30th year of creating enlightenment-dedicated music. Hykes has mastered overtone singing known as Harmonic Chant, the skill developed by Tibetan monk and Mongolian nomads that allows them to sing low and high notes simultaneously. Hykes and his Harmonic Choir explore the normally untapped resonances of the human voice."

It's worth a listen - the sound is more like the Hilliard Ensemble than throat singing to my ears. But I really like the ambience it creates. David Hykes actually demonstrates overtone singing to the interviewer which is fascinating to hear. David has his own website here.

Saturday, 1 October 2005

BBC - collective - sigur ros 'takk' - listening post

BBC - collective - sigur ros 'takk' - listening post

I haven't bought the new album by Sigur Ros yet. I plan to buy it in the next few days. In the meantime, there is a complete stream of it in Real Audio format, hosted by the BBC at the link above. Enjoy!

If you want to immerse yourself in a complete online experience before buying, go to the Sigur Ros site and look at lyrics, a documentary and a pile of other stuff. I really like the way that Sigur Ros have figured out that using the internet through downloading and streaming it is possible to build a fan-base. I first heard their music through the enormous stack of downloads on their website - that prompted me to go out and buy their albums.

Hearing the new album also helps me to decide to go and buy, in spite of the somewhat negative review in the latest issue of 'The Wire' magazine.