Issue 04 | January 2023

Welcome to the January edition of The Miaaw Monthly which tells you what to expect this month, and provides a few pointers to things you might like to explore.

Our podcasts are a way to have (hopefully) interesting conversations about the things we care about. Please spread the word as widely as you can, and encourage people to subscribe to The Miaaw Monthly.

If you have anything that you want to include in The Miaaw Monthly, or discuss in the podcasts, then please email us at monthly@miaaw.net and we will be happy to collaborate.


TODAY’S PODCAST

Today’s podcast, the final one for December, finishes off the year, and ends our brief dive into old radio shows with a “festive” episode of Dragnet from 1949.


JANUARY’S PODCASTS

Every Friday a podcast appears at 12:34 UTC. Sometimes we get so eager that they appear an hour or two early to allow for any lag across the internet. Mostly they arrive on time. With that in mind, here are the podcasts that will drop in January.

Friday January 6: Meanwhile on an Abandoned Bookshelf | Episode 15

All In This Together: François Matarasso presents a final audio essay in the current series of Old Words, examining the depoliticisation of community art in Britain between 1970 and 2011. He does this referencing many contemporary examples from Welfare State and 7:84 to ‘Swagger Jagger’, the first record by Cher Lloyd, who finished fourth in the 2010 series of The X Factor.

Friday January 13: Genuine Inquiry | Episode 25

Owen Kelly and Tomas Träskman conclude a mini-series about cultural experiments in ways of living with a discussion about micronations. They look at a variety of micronations that range from artistic performances to political activism to something less easily definable. They discuss both Sealand and Christiania as micronations, while also introducing many less well-known examples.

Friday January 20: A Culture of Possibility | Episode 25

This month François Matarasso and Arlene Goldbard talk to Jasmina Ibrahimovic about ICAF, the international festival of community arts, that returns to Rotterdam this April. We will cover events at the festival live during April, so this discussion provides a good starting point for the forthcoming podcasts. In the meanwhile you can find out more about ICAF at their website.

Friday January 27: Common Practice | Episode 24

According to the website Pixelache Helsinki “is a transdisciplinary platform for emerging art, design, research and activism. It is an association of artists, cultural producers, thinkers and activists involved in the creation of emerging cultural activities. Amongst our fields of interest are: experimental interaction and electronics, code-based art and culture, grassroot organising & networks, renewable energy production/use, participatory art, open-source cultures, bioarts and art-science culture, alternative economy cultures, politics and economics of media/technology, audiovisual culture, media literacy & ecology and engaging environmental issues”. In fact the idea for Miaaw came out of a Pixelache event in which, among many other things, Owen Kelly and Sophie Hope met and plotted a series of podcasts.

Owen Kelly has been a member of Pixelache for ten or more years and in this month’s Common Practice he and Irina Mutt look at the 20th anniversary celebrations through the words of Antti Ahonen, one of the founding members.


LISTENING

All our podcasts are available from Anchor.fm, Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, Overcast, RadioPublic, Soundcloud, Spotify, and Stitcher.

You can also listen to them at the miaaw.net website where you will find additional links, notes, and references accompanying each episode. You will also find a full archive of all the previous podcasts there.


OFF SITE

Browsing

According to Wikipedia Cory Doctorow “is a Canadian-British blogger, journalist, and science fiction author who served as co-editor of the blog Boing Boing. He is an activist in favour of liberalising copyright laws and a proponent of the Creative Commons organization, using some of their licences for his books. Some common themes of his work include digital rights management, file sharing, and post-scarcity economics”. Prolific does not begin to describe him. He has recently published a timely, interesting and relevant article about a better failure for social media at Pluralistic.net.

Listening

Queer indie punk singer/songwriter and digital rights activist Evan Greer has released Automated Christmas Joy, a four song EP where the lyrics were written by Chat GPT and then set to music and recorded by Greer. The musician used prompts like “Write a Christmas Song in the style of Blink 182,” “Write a song called ‘Christmas at the Gay Bar,” and “Write a Christmas song where Santa fights the fascists,” to generate the lyrics.

The album is only available on Bandcamp and all proceeds will benefit Fight for the Future, the nonprofit where Greer works as a director, to support the organization’s work fighting against harmful uses of AI and campaigning for strict regulation.

“I kind of hate everything about this,” said Evan Greer (she/her), “I honestly don’t know why I made this. Partly to distract myself and cope with holiday depression, partly as a commentary on the way that artificial intelligence is invading the art and music world, and partly because I kind of love Christmas music, but also most Christmas music sort of sounds like it was written by an AI, since it’s so formulaic and commercialized.”

You can listen to it, and buy it, at Bandcamp, where you can listen to the complete songs rather than small samples. Trust us, you will love it – and if you do then you might also like her album Spotify Is Surveillance.

Local News

A Library of Things allows people to borrow stuff that they only need now and then. Blending a grassroots movement with technology, hundreds more are in planning
Already, 5,000 Londoners are on to it: borrowing anything from sound systems to sewing machines from a catalogue of around 50 items. They are the pioneers of the Library of Things (LoT) model, which helps people to save money and reduce waste by affordably renting out household items. They’ve collectively saved around 50 tonnes of waste from landfill since it all began.

Following a successful crowdfunding campaign, the model will now be expanded from the existing seven neighbourhoods to 50 across England.

We read this in Positive News. Fun fact: Helsinki City library has loaned out board games, musical instruments, household tools, and other hardware, since before anyone had invented the term library of things. People like it!

Looking

Brendan Jackson sent out a Christmas card in the form of an email this year, and we liked the photo and caption so much we asked if we could show it to you.

The chichilaki is a traditional Georgian Christmas tree; made from dried hazelnut or walnut branches which are first soaked in water, then heated over a fire, the bark is then removed and the wood shaved from top to bottom to make a tree shape.

Traditionally chichilakis are an important part of the Georgian Orthodox Christmas on 7th January, Georgians believing that the shaved tree resembles the famous beard of St. Basil the Great, who was said to visit people during Christmas rather like Santa Claus.

Photograph by Zakaria Chelidze

Reading

Arlene Goldbard’s new book, In The Camp of Angels of Freedom was the topic of conversation in the December edition of A Culture of Possibility. You can find out more about the book, and order a copy from New Village Press.

It is joined this month by Owen Kelly’s new book Cultural Democracy Now, which is available from Routledge. You can find out more about it from the Routledge website.

The book begins “from the observation that, in order to understand what we might mean by cultural democracy, we need to understand what we mean by culture. To understand what we might mean by culture we need to understand what we mean by community. To understand what we mean by community we need to understand what we mean by people. To understand what we mean by people we need first to understand ‘what it is like to be’ us”. It attempts to explain why we should care about cultural democracy as an idea as well as what it might look like as a practice.


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