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31 July 2007

It’s Addictive

Cat Hope Image: Cat Hope  

I started constructing my own first website of sorts in 1999. Things were different then – without a good deal of html skills you would create a page that looked like every other made on a home PC unless you could pay a designer or ‘web wrangler’.

Now, with Web 2.0, things have changed. My new websites (www.cathope.com, thelowgroom.anarchyblogs.com, guerillasessions.anarchyblogs.com) are effectively blogs – I often get a designer to create a ‘skin’ but I edit them as I see them in Wordpress. Readers send in comments and I can stream live music and video without taking up huge amounts of megabytes on the server as there are free hosting sites such as Myspace (www.myspace.com) or YouTube (youtube.com).

Like much of the Web, it can be a long shallow trawl to quality and meaning, but there are rewards. The Web has delivered many of the opportunities it promised and, being in Perth, it has helped me to reach out to other communities and groups, and given me a cheap way to share data, music and images with people thousands of kilometres away. Through my website, I have secured concerts the world over, sold CDs, found like-minded others, advertised my activities, and published my writing in a way that would have otherwise been impossible. I have created networks that are maintained despite distances and time. I have used Internet facilities to manage Bloodstar Music (www.bloodstarmusic.com) – an online music store and Earwax (www.earwax.cjb.net) – an online magazine that existed for two years in 2001 - 2003.

Yet it is not all roses and fast connections. Maintaining these sites takes time, and I seem to forever need new skills as well as faster, bigger and more powerful hardware and servers. Not everyone has broadband, and most music sounds terrible compressed so heavily and through computer speakers (especially music like mine which has a low frequency focus) (http://www.thelowgroom.blogger.an-archos.com). But I seem to find a way around these issues, and I love to be able to check my email and update my website from the back of the garden with my wireless connection.

I don’t think we can underestimate the power of Myspace (www.myspace.com) music (or MyWaste as one of my peers calls it) – it seems to be bringing musicians together as never before; to create, share and organise – principally in the popular music world. Like much of the Web, it can be a long shallow trawl to quality and meaning, but there are rewards.

Websites are getting easier to manage and more personal. And, I say with a tinge of dread, necessary.

In December 2006, I played as part of (((No Music))) (www.nomusic.org) – a live, online music festival and performed live with two other musicians in Europe and Japan whilst I was visiting Singapore. While I was playing, I had people messaging me who remembered me from a tour in Europe in 2002 and happened to be listening in. It was total contact, memory and a true eating away of distance in an ephemeral moment. It really felt like the Internet was delivering what it had promised back in the nineties. Now it’s a matter of trying to use it less, not more. It’s addictive.

Subjects discussed by this article:

Cat Hope is a composer and performance/video artist. She currently lectures in composition at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts at Edith Cowan University.


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