Archive for June, 2012

Diversity in watercolour

June 30, 2012
Under the Clock, Guildford High Street

Under the Clock, Guildford High Street

Peaceful Venice

Peaceful Venice

An exhibition of watercolours by David Harmer at the Guildford Institute in Guildford.

Lack of presentational skills!

Framed paintings covered in glass, unable to see clearly due to reflections.

Unframed paintings even worse, covered in crumpled up plastic.

No information on artist, no contact details.

Only one copy of a sheet of paper giving minimal information on the paintings, nothing on the artist. I had to ask the Guildford Institute to run me off a copy, which they kindly did.

I was baffled why by each group of watercolours was a notice telling me these were original watercolours.

The bandcamp model: Guildford Institute provides free exhibition space. The artists pay commission for use of the space on the work they sell.

Synchronicity: My eye was caught by a painting of Venice, where I had recently been, a Swedish friend (who used to live just outside Guildford) more recently. Venice features in The Fire, the sequel to The Eight, which I am currently reading.

Synchronicity: A lady was sat beneath one of the paintings of Venice discussing the positional notation of numbers. This was introduced into Baghdad from India. It is discussed in The Fire, the sequel to The Eight, which I am currently reading.

Lunch at the Guildford Institute

June 30, 2012
delicious chickpea bake and salad

delicious chickpea bake and salad

scrumptious desert

scrumptious desert

For the first Friday in about a month, it was not cold and raining.

I decided therefore to visit Guildford for lunch at the Guildford Institute.

The day started off quite cool, and I thought it was probably going to be yet another cold, wet day, but it turned out quite warm, pleasant and sunny.

The High Street lined with stalls. A Craft Fair, part of the Guildford Summer Festival. Most of the stalls overpriced tat, but one or too worth looking at. The Project Peru stall had quite colourful wares. A nearby stall interesting stuff carved from wood, but my favourite a basket of carved wooden ducks.

I picked up a programme for the summer festival from the Tourist Information Office at Guildford House. I flipped through it after lunch. Very depressing, not a single thing worth going to, but at least to their credit they do run a summer festival.

Friday lunch at the Guildford Instute is always worth looking forward to. The last few times I have found the food has either run out or almost with little choice left. This time not too bad a choice. Often hard to decide.

I had chickpea bake plus salad. It was delicious.

For desert some type of lemon pie. Not sure what it was called, but it too was delicious. I added cream.

I had a meal deal, main course and desert which comes with a complimentary glass of fruit juice.

If you want tea or coffee it is extra.

In addition to excellent food being served, also a free exhibition space for local artists. Currently Diversity in Watercolour, though very badly presented with glass and plastic sheeting hiding the watercolours.

Wandering down the High Street after lunch I came across two young musicians, one on acoustic guitar and the other on saxophone playing in the street. I signed them to Any And All Records, the world’s fastest growing record label.

For Friday lunch, the Guildford Institute is one of the best places to eat in Guildford. For vegetarians, the only place to eat in Guildford.

Top Story in The Digital Mission Daily (Sunday 1 July 2012).

Top Story in The Digital Mission Daily (Monday 1 July 2012).

A Conversation With Paulo Coelho

June 30, 2012
A conversation with Paulo Coelho

A conversation with Paulo Coelho

As Lady Gaga says: Hello little monsters. — Paulo Coelho

James Joyce is such a boring writer. — Paulo Coelho

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. — 2 Peter 3:8

Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho in live video conference.

I recently posted an interview Paulo Coelho did with DLT about making use of social media.

There are those who know how to make use of social media and those who do not. Paulo Coelho has taken it into a whole new dimension with a live video conference with over 600 participants. A few minutes in and it was at 678.

The previous day I listened to a dramatisation of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Much reappeared in the conversation with Paulo Coelho.

I was so busy posting on the net that Paulo Coelho was on live, that I was caught completely unawares when Paulo Coelho was talking to me.

What is your question Keith? I had no question. I commented on Christina’s painting in the background.

People were meant to post a question. I assume Paulo saw someone he knew.

I was busy with all the controls. Along the bottom tiny thumbnails of a sample of the people in the video conference. Some were who I knew.

What is the problem in failing? We all fail. Better to have failed than to have never tried. Failing is part of life. It is through failing we learn.

Aleph is an account of a journey in 2006 on the Trans-Siberian Railway.

Advice on writing: Start writing. As Imogen Heap said in a recent webcast the artist’s best friend is procrastination. If you delay, you are not following your dreams.

Paulo Coelho started writing when he was 40. That was his dream. He had no idea if it would be a success.

Most important thing is to start. Second is to share. It is not just about writing, it is sharing your soul.

Economic crisis is paranoia, it is easy to spread panic. Fear is the most powerful tool to control our minds.

Nearly twenty years ago Paulo Coelho made the mistake of selling the film rights to The Alchemist. A book that has now sold over 65 million copies. Once you sell the rights, you lose control.

Thoughts on young people: Am I at 64 in a position to comment? There is a lack of values. Less adventurous. Lack of creativity.

A personal legend is a term from alchemy, your mission in life. Who am I? What am a doing here? God will help you follow the right path in life.

You may not be writing a biography, but your writing will be biographical, it will draw on your life experience.

We are surrounded by symbols.

Inspired by interacting with people on internet, reading, walking in the woods, archery.

Archery is a method of meditation.

Inspiration for writing Aleph: Journey on the Trans-Siberian Railway.

Aleph is a point in space and time.

Aleph not an easy book to write. How can you explain a moment that explains all moments?

Talking to Monica, she suggested writing about the experience on the Trans-Siberian Railway.

Then one week later, saw how to explain Aleph. Explain in a way that others could understand.

Aleph No 1 in Brazil. An international best seller. A surprise!

Very proud to be published [in US] by Knopf.

The Alchemist was first contact with Islamic culture. Travelled from Tarifa in Spain from where you can see Africa.

Is modern literature going into decline like music?

Music is not dying. The major record labels are dying, who do not realise there has been a paradigm shift.

Earlier in the day I signed two young lads to a record label. I explained to them it was more important to be on twitter than be on a record label.

I gave three examples of people who know how to use social media: Paulo Coelho, Steve Lawson and Imogen Heap.

Writers are not making use of social media to communicate with their readers.

Who is going to read Ulysses by James Joyce?

Three weeks ago BBC Radio 4 dramatised Ulysses. A five and a half dramatisation to coincide with Bloomsday. There was discussions on Ulysses. Academics for who it was their subject matter admitted it was incomprehensible.

If the role of a writer is to communicate, how can James Joyce be considered a great writer? It is claimed he is influential. Influenced who?

Aleph is about reincarnation. A problem in the Catholic Church.

Put in a mental institution. Arrested by paramilitaries, tortured. Paranoid. Time heals. Don’t let the person who hurts you destroy you.

In writing a book, have an ending in mind, and a beginning, the question is how to get to one from the other. The Alchemist is taken from a short story in the Arabian Nights. Aleph is known as it is what happened on the Trans-Siberian Railway. The Pilgrimage is also autobiographical.

The writer has to create what happens between the beginning and the end.

As a writer you are on a journey and it is the journey is what counts. A new book is a new journey.

A gardener takes care of the plants but depends on many things out of his control.

New book, Manuscrito encontrado em Accra, published in Brazil in one month, rest of the world end of this year and early next year.

Draw on all your senses including sixth sense. Intuition.

Mystery. There are things we cannot define, but we recognise when we see or experience, for example love. We cannot explain love, but we can experience love.

In Zen and the Art of Maintenance, Phaedrus cannot define quality, but we all recognise quality. Eventually it drives him insane.

Aleph is a point that contains every single point. You can experience, how can you explain?

Deja vu, synchronicity?

Time is a mystery, time is elastic.

When I am with my lovely friend Lena, time stands still. We were in a restaurant having a drink. The staff came to us at midnight, said goodnight, and left us a candle. I noticed it was very quiet. I asked Lena what time did she think it was? It was gone 2am in the early hours of the morning.

What books are you reading? Currently reading In The Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson. Hitler’s ascent to power. No one saw or understood what was happening.

Peace is state of mind, We have to fight injustice. Read Bhagavad Gita

A trending topic with over 25,000 visits….

A conversation with Paulo Coelho trending ...

A conversation with Paulo Coelho trending …

 Any And All Records

June 29, 2012
Any And All Records

Any And All Records

my latest 'signing' to Any And All Records

my latest ‘signing’ to Any And All Records

The idea of labelling ourselves (or other people) as ‘unsigned’ is about as useful as describing us as ‘untall’ . -– Steve Lawson

Dear music schools, my bio now includes ‘co-founder of the world’s fastest growing record label’. More reasons to book a guest lecture. — Steve Lawson

I signed two young lads to a music label this afternoon!

Last weekend Andrew Dubber and Steve Lawson had a brilliant idea: Why not create a record label for unsigned artists?

By the end of the weekend they had signed over a hundred artists.

 Any And All Records is the world’s fastest growing record label.

It gets around the paradox of those artists who recognise they do not need a record label of then being stuck in a ghetto with the label unsigned.

But does this not mean they are signing rubbish?

Far from it.

Live So Far – Steve Lawson

Put up or shut up – another cultural landslide

Motive and Opportunity – Eilis Phillips

More music can be found on the Any And All Records page on bandcamp.

Any And All Records is an excellent example of community supported music!

There are two places to be: twitter and bandcamp.

It is more important to be on twitter than a record label.

But it is equally important to make effective use of twitter and other social media.

If you are on bandcamp, people can easily share your music.

Hence my ‘signing’ to Any And All Records today.

And my advice to my new signings:

If you are playing in the High Street in Guildford, then tweet that you are there.

And that is where I found them. Playing in Guildford High Street. And why were they playing there? Because it was fun.

They were playing during the Craft Fair, part of the Guildford Summer Festival (1 June – 1 August 2012).

 Any And All Records is a New Music Strategies project.

Paulo Coelho: “Tweeting Is Art”

June 29, 2012
Screenshot of Paulo Coelho's Twitter account

Screenshot of Paulo Coelho’s Twitter account

The Internet is a global village for him. Pirated copies of his books he sees as a compliment. DLD friend Paulo Coelho, interviewed by Die Zeit journalists Maximilian Probst and Kilian Trotier in today’s print edition, shares his thoughts on the digital revolution’s impact on communicating with readers.

Physical bookstores are still like temples. You dive in this magical, holy place filled with human imagination. Paulo Coelho, the Brazilian bestselling author of The Alchemist, walks in both worlds – online and offline. He is not afraid to sell his books for 99 cents at Amazon. He has more than 8.6 million fans on Facebook. More than 2 million people are reading his blog every month. And he has more than 4.7 million followers on Twitter.

Why isn’t he afraid, like so many of his colleagues, of this digital wall of fans?

Readers inspire him, Coelho admits. If it is a friend from Montenegro who tells him about his country’s legends. Or a Chinese he chats with but never met face-to-face. For him, it’s like meeting people in a digital bar.

And tweeting for him, like writing a blog post, is all part of the new digital world of literature and art.

Long live the “internetual”!

We should embrace new technology, and not be afraid of giants like Amazon taking it all. We want cheap books? He’s giving them to us. This way, you prevent people pirating your content. But even if people are illegally copying your books, you should be proud of it, take it as a compliment – a medal. Coelho wants as many people as possible reading his books. That’s his goal as an author.

His philosophy is like the one many journalists, musicians, artists have. We write, paint, compose because we have the urge to do so. It’s not about money. It’s not about what our bosses or publishers want. It’s about passion. If you are lucky, people around you see it as your gift. If not, you still need to do it. It’s part of you. Even more so when there are so many ways to express yourself, like on Twitter or a personal blog.

What else does the digital interconnectivity change?

The intellectual we knew is dead, he declares at the end of the Skype interview. Long live the “internetual”! He will change the way we write. More straightforward without being superficial.

This is how you keep the imagination of your reader alive.

The Storyteller

Humanity transformed its way to tell stories, said Paulo Coelho in this ‘Disruption Talk‘ with Sean Parker at the DLD conference in 2011. We do change the way of how we share stories, but in the end all of what we do is to capture the human condition.

— Beatrice Jeschek

Original article posted on DLD.

What do those counts actually mean?

June 29, 2012

I’ve just been alerted to a Bing re-upload that has more views than youtube. Basically this song has smashed 1 million views in the first week. Absolutely crazy! – Mike Dawes

Mike Dawes recently got overexcited that the hits for Somebody That I Used To Know, his improvisation of a mediocre Gotye number had passed one million hits. I advised caution.

I do not know where he got his numbers from. When I checked, bing a little over half a million, youtube a little under half a million. If he is adding the two together totally meaningless.

That we place value on the number of hits, number of visits, means they have value. That they have value means they have become a currency, like cowrie shells. If a currency then we have to be alert to fraud, counterfeiting and debasing of the currency.

What do we mean by hits, how do we measure?

This blog counts the number of unique visits. That is if you visit once, twice, ten times or a hundred times, you are only counted once.

I get statistics for the number of visits each day, top articles for the week, top articles of the day.

Twitpic on the other hand counts each and every visit. You visist ten times, you will be counted ten times.

Two weeks ago NeverSeconds was at two million hits and I watched it pass three million. The visits on the count were clicking up much faster than one a second. Two weeks later, now over six million visits, the visits are clocking up at a little less than one a second.

At a guess, the count is of individual visits. This is reasonable as something new is posted every day and there would appear to be a large worldwide following reading the blog.

A new posting on twitpic will immediately pick up a few visits. This appears to be robots following key words and hashtags. Again reasonable as at the end of the line these will lead to humans.

For the record these are the hits clocked up by Mike Dawes on youtube sampled every twelve hours (plus or minus a couple of hours) since release of Somebody That I Used To Know on Tuesday of last week (19 June 2012):

  • early hours Wednesday morning 301 hits
  • early Wednesday afternoon 5,615
  • early hours Thursday morning 22,596 hits
  • early afternoon Thursday 114,579 hits
  • early hours Friday morning 164,174 hits
  • early afternoon Friday 255,524 hits
  • early hours Saturday morning 283,113 hits
  • early evening Saturday 328,809 hits
  • early hours Sunday morning 345,219 hits
  • evening Sunday 380,197 hits
  • early hours Monday morning 385,177 hits
  • early afternoon Monday 409,030 hits
  • early hours Tuesday morning 419,657 hits
  • Tuesday afternoon 439,208 hits
  • early hours Wednesday morning 449,339 hits
  • evening Wednesday 466,526 hits
  • early hours Thursday morning 487,106 hits

You will see exponential rise until last Thursday. At the weekend it started to level off, but still steady growth.

The very observant may have noticed that the count stuck on 301, then moved forward. There is a reason for this. At 301, youtube introduce checking.

Were Mike Dawes on bandcamp (I find perverse he is not), he would be getting stats on what was happening. Additional benefits, people would be sharing, downloading, gigs can be posted etc. It also provides e-mail address of those who download, very useful for future mail outs.

Had Mike Dawes been on bandcamp and one hundred thousand had paid one dollar each to download Somebody That I Used To Know, that is a cool $100,000 less 15% to bandcamp.

To repeat, it is perverse not to be on bandcamp.

I agree with Steve Lawson when he says it is more important to be on twitter than a record label.

At the weekend Steve Lawson and Andrew Dubber launched a record label, Any And All Records. That weekend alone, over one hundred signings.

Myspace is a waste of space, only be there for legacy reasons. Facebook steals personal data. Spotify follows the facebook model and pays artists a pittance.

But it is no use simply being on twitter, you have to make effective use.

An example of clueless use of twitter is the West End Centre, a cultural space in Aldershot. They tweet gibberish. A world music festival in Farnborough, Hampshire Welcomes the World , was very poorly attended because they failed to tweet information about it. And they were one of the organisers!

The number of followers is crude if meaningless measure of twitter. A far better measure is tweetlevel.

Tweetlevel gives a rough idea of twitter influence, but should not be taken too seriously, and certainly do not tweet, never tweet, to effect a metric.

  • Imogen Heap – @imogenheap – 87.5
  • Paulo Coelho – @paulocoelho – 86.6
  • Steve Lawson – @solbasssteve – 82.8
  • Keith Parkins – @keithpp – 71.2
  • West End Centre – @teamwesty – 51.7

Never write, perform music to influence a metric. It will simply produce bad writing, bad music.

Clearing the undergrowth

June 28, 2012
clearing the undergrowth

clearing the undergrowth

grass yet to be cut

grass yet to be cut

Grass has been cut on hands and knees with a pair of garden shears, then mowed. Now for the last couple of days a start has been made on clearing the undergrowth.

Today the first hot day, maybe 28C, maybe will hit 30C.

It is a shock when you learn that people who do not have the appearance of being fat or overweight, have a large amount of internal fat.

On You and Yours lunchtime today, the need for 22 minutes of exercise every day. Suggestions please on how to?

Try half an hour or more working in the garden.

For two and a half weeks, every morning one to two hours in the garden.

Try walking and cycling, not use a car. Go for walks in the countryside.

The last few evenings I have been able to enjoy the spoils of my labour, sit in the garden reading The Fire, sequel to The Eight. Peaceful and quiet as though sitting in a woodland clearing.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

June 28, 2012
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is one of my favourite novels, even though I never managed to complete it.

It was a cult novel in the 1970s I came across it through a Swedish girl who I met on Mykonos, which was in itself a cult place to be.

I sat reading it that summer. But never finished. Never mind thought I, I will read next summer. The same thing happened.

For whatever reason it was destined never to be read to the end.

I do not even know what happened to my copy as I cannot find it.

Last year I was walking along the River Wey in Guildford thinking of a Hungarian friend, and there she was, sat by the river reading a book, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Good choice I told her.

I must read, thought I. I picked up a copy of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Last summer I started to read, exactly the same thing happened. I got part way through, no further.

But for a book I have never managed to get far into, it had a very profound impact.

It was the 1970s, and yet I can still recall what I read then.

The love we put into our work. Seeing beauty in what has been made.

Hating when I see people working with background music playing, as their soul is not in their work.

Newton’s Laws of Motion. Did they exist before Newton found them? Were they lying around waiting to be found?

I had this discussion with a speaker at a multi-faith meeting last year. He sadly was talking garbage.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance has never been dramatized. Not that is until last Saturday on BBC Radio 4. I did not know at the time and only stumbled upon it when I was going back through the schedule looking for something else.

The beginning I just do not recognise.

The BBC once again demonstrate their crass stupidity. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance will only be held on-line for seven days.

The Zen is to have empathy with, engage with what you are doing.

An expensive BMW motorcycle. Use a piece of a coke can as a washer. Is this not to insult the machine? No. It is to recognise the properties of aluminium. That is will give slightly, be slightly sticky, thus ideal properties for a washer.

I do not think any other book or writing has had such a profound effect, other than Hermann Hesse and more recently Paulo Coelho.

Put up or shut up

June 28, 2012
Put up or shut up

Put up or shut up

You will either love this or hate it. I love it. Post-genre, no prisoners taken, what more can I say.

Put up or shut up is a sneak preview of what may or may not be released this summer.

And to download it is completely free, no strings attached.

Another cultural landslide are signed to Any and All Records.

I am very much reminded of Jacob’s Stories.

Top Story in EveryBodyGo2guy #tweets Daily (Thursday 28 June 2012).

Reconnecting with nature

June 27, 2012
water meadows River Wey near Farnham

water meadows River Wey near Farnham

hazelnuts last autumn from my garden

hazelnuts last autumn from my garden

I owe Richard Mabey a lot.

As a child I was very connected with nature. Our garden backed on to fields. I would go walking in the fields, walk down to a river and along the river, paddle through streams, climb up hills, explore quarries, go off on my cycle and explore further afield.

In the winter, the river would burst its banks. The field would be flooded, turned into one huge lake, almost but not quite reaching our garden fence.

I have never revisited where I grew up. I am told the field behind our house is one vast housing estate. I would find it too upsetting.

At university I with a group of friends would go away for a weekend, sometimes a day. It was not long after the Beeching Cuts in the rail network. Often we would explore old railway lines.

Then I got out of the habit.

Until a work colleague went to an art exhibition of paintings of wild flowers by Marjorie Blamey. These were used to illustrate The Wild Flowers of Britain and Northern Europe. An excellent field guide.

Around the time I also picked up Food For Free by Richard Mabey.

I started walking again. I would go down to Dorset, Somerset, Devon and Cornwall and walk the coastal path, though in my case it was walking the cliff path. I would also wonder inland too.

I would walk along the cliffs, find a rocky outcrop with sheer drops all around and just sit there.

At night I would stay at Youth Hostels where I would meet interesting fellow travellers and some very eccentric wardens. An organisation I watched destroyed by greed, incompetence and total disconnect with its founding philosophy of connecting young people of limited means with the countryside. Many of the hostels I stayed at no longer exist.

Later I read Common Ground which is about the English countryside. An eye opener.

I learnt a lot about ancient woods. Wanted to know more. Met Oliver Rackam, one of the leading experts on ancient woodlands.

In Common Ground I learned of a wood that had been bulldozed. The trees had been destroyed but not the wood.

Therefore I found it very sad to learn that for a a period of some years Richard Mabey suffered severe clinical depression, resulting in two spells in a mental hospital. An experience he describes in Nature Cure and talked about on All in the Mind on BBC Radio 4 yesterday evening, a special edition on ecotherapy. [rebroadcast today at 1530 on BBC Radio 4]

Richard Mabey said a symptom of his clinical depression was that he lost his connection with the natural world. He would look at the books he had written, see his name, and yet be unable to connect with himself.

I have never understood going to a gym. I would much rather go for a walk, climb a mountain. Breathe in the fresh air, catch the sun.

I was recently in Bassano del Grappa. The first thing I did on my first day was go for a long walk along a river. On my last day, my lovely Japanese friend Mio and I went for a walk up a mountain, even though we had not got in from a party the night before until 3-30am in the early hours of the morning.

In the 1980s I was in London for a couple of years. I arranged my schedule such that I was not there everyday. On the days I was not there I went walking. It was the only way to retain my sanity. And it cleared my lungs of the filth picked up in London.

Woods are something special. To sit in a woodland glade, the quiet, woodland butterflies flitting by. To see an ancient tree and wonder what tales it has to tell.

On heathland to see the sun catch a Scots Pine.

Using Food for Free, I used to gather plants, nuts, wild fungi, then eat that night.

Of late I have got out of the habit of walking.

Around this time last year I went for a walk with a friend. We caught the train to Farnham, with the intention of walking around the town. Instead we walked to Waverley Abbey.

It reminded me of how much I loved walking in the countryside.

I am lucky, I have a large garden. Currently somewhat overgrown. The last couple of weeks, every morning, I have been on my hands and knees cutting the long grass with a pair of garden shears, then mowing the grass with a lawn mower, clearing beds and borders.

The last few evenings I have been able to enjoy the spoils of my labour, sit in the garden reading The Fire, sequel to The Eight. Peaceful and quiet as though sitting in a woodland clearing.

In Brida, Paulo Coelho talks of the difference between those who build and those who garden. Those who build are in danger of walling themselves in, those who garden have to constantly adapt.

Ecotherapy is using nature to cure.

Other books I think I have by Richard Mabey include: Gilbert White.

A couple of years ago Richard Mabey was at the Guildford Book Festival. Sadly I never got to meet him as the day he was there clashed with something else.