How did we get here? There is always the possibility, suggested by many, that America is sinking into an Idiocracy-style dystopia, but that explanation feels too pat. Rather, the success of Trump’s campaign is at least partly a reflection of the way the news media has changed. In addition to (sometimes literally) providing the candidate with a stage, the media used to act as a filter between candidate and voter, couching the candidate’s unvarnished spiel with context, contrary opinions, facts. This is no longer necessarily the case; instead, the media increasingly tries to collapse the space between the politician and his constituent, thrusting everyone, media included, into a shared chaos known as social media.
You are watching a battle that is primarily being conducted by avatars, in a flattened space about the size of a phone, where everyone, from activists to reporters to campaign flacks to President Obama, is braying for attention. As I type this, dozens of operatives are spinning the debate we just watched, dragging an event from the physical world into the digital realm where we spend more and more of our time, and where every gesture, every upload, every expression of outrage, empathy, kindness, or anger, is simultaneously a performance.
Described in a patent application titled “Digital mixed tapes” published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Thursday, Apple’s idea is to tap into the nostalgia associated with swapping analog cassette tapes. More specifically, Apple is investigating methods by which personalized albums can be created, purchased and gifted from a cloud-based music service.
The system’s mechanics are based on existing digital storefront technology and would therefore be familiar to anyone who has used iTunes or similar online services. Users select songs, movies, images and other digital media from their own library or an online store, then arrange the content, playback options and more to suit their needs.
This could be seen as further evidence of the influence of Apple’s ‘tech-savvy musicians’ I mentioned previously, finding inspiration in how some pre-digital methods of sharing music created meaningful connections. The ‘mixtape’ idea is also a creative extension of the popular ‘For You’ tab as Apple doubles down on curation and playlisting. Of course, they could damage the idea by making it too complicated, as Apple is wont to do with their music applications. Granted, it’s only a patent filing but there’s a lot packed in there … is the option to “restrict a recipient’s ability to fast forward” really worth adding an extra button?
Now, complexity be damned, if Apple wanted to go all out they could integrate this with GarageBand, adding some Ableton-like syncing capabilty, so users (non-DJs) could share and post ‘mixed’ sets from the Apple Music catalog. Boom.
The ‘arty’ alternative bands of the 80s like New Order and Joy Division rarely used type over their imagery, and Peter Saville (graphic designer and art director of Factory Records) had always sold that as a way to create a global secret. A secret that would only be known by 500,000 fans, but anyone else going into the record shop wouldn’t have a clue who the group were. There were many record covers that came out looking obscure but that certain indie aesthetic wasn’t seen as commercial back then. But now there has been a 180-degree turn as the way that people browse and consume music has changed and is entirely online. – Philip Marshall
DJBroadcast is serving up a great series of interviews with record sleeve designers. It’s both inspiring and a tad melancholic, as I of miss the days when cover design (whether digital or physical) wasn’t the afterthought that it seems to be for most labels now.
Anyway, the site is two parts deep into the series. Part 1 (HERE) speaks with Philip Marshall who has done work for ZTT, one of my favorite labels with regards to design. Part 2 (HERE) features Lindsay Todd of Firecracker Records who uses his own printing press to fulfill his sleeve design dreams. Good stuff … I’m looking forward to future installments.