La Nouvelle Ernestine

by Yule Heibel on April 18, 2005

Here’s an interesting gaggle of articles, all via the current page on ArtsJournal: Daily Arts News:

First, an article from the LA Times about Motorola’s plan to sell a new phone and service, called iRadio, from which customers and users will be able to download songs and radio programming from an internet-connected computer, then beam that content to their home or car stereos. See Will Your Music Hub Be a Phone? by Jon Healey.

Then there’s iPod Killers? in Business Week:

Wireless operators around the globe are working with music studios, phone makers, and artists such as Sean “P. Diddy” Combs in a sweeping effort to turn the mobile phone into a go-anywhere digital jukebox. Foreign carriers such as Vodafone and SK Telecom are leading the way, and U.S. wireless players are following fast. BusinessWeek has learned that Verizon Wireless (VZ ), Sprint (FON ), and Cingular Wireless are expected to unveil services for downloading music directly to wireless phones later this year. “We have a tremendous opportunity to make a big impact in music,” says Dennis F. Strigl, CEO of Verizon Wireless. [More…]

It’s an angle backed up by Infinity Plans to Broadcast to Cellphones in U.S. (via Reuters).

At the same time (also via ArtsJournal: Daily Arts News), radio will re-invent (and save its ass) via the internet, and probably — if these phone deals are any indication — piggy-back on the new technology in more ways than one: Departing WBAI GM hails Internet radio:

When Don Rojas steps down as general manager at WBAI (99.5 FM) at month’s end, he says he’s leaving a stable operation that has, like all media, the potential to get better.

He also thinks one crucial way for WBAI to do so is to expand its traditional over-the-air broadcasting to the Internet.

“Internet radio is the future,” says Rojas. “I don’t mean traditional radio will disappear. But Internet radio can solve the biggest problem of a WBAI: that there isn’t enough airtime in a week to carry everything you want to carry.

“With the Internet, capacity is limitless. Once Internet radio becomes as accessible and easy to use as ‘regular radio,’ everything changes.”


Rojas hopes to ride that wave himself. He will keep consulting for WBAI, and other entities as well, on emerging new-media technologies like Internet radio.

He sees a WBAI and its parent Pacifica, brand names, becoming an Internet umbrella under which dozens or hundreds of niche stations could be accessed.

“One of WBAI’s biggest conflicts now,” says Rojas, “is between public affairs and arts and entertainment. With the Internet, each could have a whole channel.” [More…]

Finally — and this is quite interesting — The art of mobile technology by Stacey M. Perlman describes a situationist / conceptual (yet newly populist) art movement, psychogeography, that uses cell phones to make its connections:

New public space art projects are using cellphones and other mobile devices to explore new ways of communicating while giving everyday people the chance to share some insights about real world locations.

One art project, Yellow Arrow, based in New York City, has developed a system where people can place yellow stickers in the shape of arrows around the city, stating that they have something to say about that particular location. Each arrow, which is ideally placed in a location that holds significance to the person, has its own unique code that can be sent to a mobile phone via text messaging, allowing others to read the message that was left.

”Yellow Arrow gives anybody that chance to have, in a certain sense, a mini-billboard,” said Jesse Shapins one of the creative collaborators for Counts media, the company that created to explore the hidden details of cities. [More…]

The other project mentioned by this article is [murmer], based in Toronto. Another is Psychogeography is the focus of, an internet magazine.

While business interests are knitting a rope to tie us all up, er, sorry: to link us all up, to connect us, to make us free [kof kof], the artists, using the same technologies, are busily unravelling the damn thing. Don’t we live in interesting times? It’s dialectics at its best, I guess.

[Re. the title, it’s a reference to Rousseau, of course (La Nouvelle Heloise), on writing with sentiment, passion, feeling — all that stuff about love and art, right? And of course it’s a reference to everyone’s favourite telephone operator, Lily Tomlin’s Ernestine, the terror of telephone users of yore: Ernestine-“We are the phone company”-Tomlin.]

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