For some time, many experts have been saying that high-density cities are no longer essential for business success. The internet has made it unnecessary for workers and companies to always be in close proximity. But “creative activities — whether economic, cultural or political — thrive on density. In a global economy, with uncertain markets and changing conditions, the most advanced and speculative sectors need concentrations of resources — talent, management, technological infrastructure and buildings. They need dense environments where information does not simply circulate but gets produced. The geography of the global economy consists of both world-spanning networks and these concentrations of resources, as provided by about 40 global cities.”
Canadian historian Margaret MacMillan tried and tried to get a Canadian publisher to take her book “Paris 1919: Six Months that Changed the World,” a revisionist history of the Treaty of Versailles, but without success. Finally she flew to London and sold it there. The book has since become a big bestseller and once again editors whose job it is to pick out books to publish, missed out. How does this happen?
“Rostropovich is a genuine hero of the Soviet era and what followed, having stuck up publicly for his friend Alexander Solzhenitsyn when the wrath of the Kremlin was upon him, and having flown to Moscow from the West in 1991 to support Boris Yeltsin, who at the time was facing down an attempted coup. He has lived his life as though borders and limits to freedom don’t exist, which hasn’t exempted him from sometimes having to accept that they do. He’s also a human cyclone. Rostropovich turns 75 in March.”
It’s a myth that copyrights are owned by creative artists. Big companies own them. Take “the ubiquitous ‘Happy Birthday,’ whose tune was composed by Mildred Hill, a kindergarten teacher in Louisville, in 1893, was copyrighted in 1934 by her sister Jessica Hill, after the ditty with new lyrics attached appeared in the Broadway musical The Bank Wagon and had been used by Western Union for its singing telegram. Rights to the song changed hands several times and today they are owned by Summy-Birchard Music, which in turn is owned by AOL Time Warner, for which it earns $2 million a year in royalties for public usage. (Don’t worry about singing it around your dining table; AOL Time Warner has not figured out how to collect on that yet.)”
Los Angeles’ KCET, the West Coast PBS flagship station, has laid off 14 people. “A spokeswoman for the station said that the cuts were due to lower-than-expected revenue from subscribers and corporate sponsorships. The projected station budget at the beginning of the fiscal year was $48 million, a figure that is now being reformulated.”
With computers getting smart enough to beat even the best chess players, some are asking about the “artistic” abilities of machines. If a machine, by the use of sheer calculation, creates something artistic, is the machine artistic? Can machines practice art? “Is the system intelligent? It is because it produces intelligent behavior. If it does something artistic, then it is artistic. It does not matter how it did it.”
“The success of shows like ‘American Idol,’ ‘The Bachelorette’ on ABC and ‘Joe Millionaire’ on Fox was so impressive that numerous executives said they were now ready to embrace plans for a radical restructuring of the network business, which previously had been talked about only as dimly possible, long-term adjustments. Not only will reality shows continue to flood network’s schedules next fall, but television executives are also predicting such developments as an end to the traditional television season.”
“Broadcast television, under intensifying attack by saltier cable competitors, is pushing the limits of decorum further by the year, and hardly anyone is pushing back. Though the changing standards of prime time have evolved gradually, the pace has accelerated in recent years. But the falloff in protests over those changes has been sudden.” Seems the groups that used to protest racy language have gone away…
Network theory is hot. “As an intellectual approach, network theory is the latest symptom of a fundamental shift in scientific thinking, away from a focus on individual components — particles and subparticles — and toward a novel conception of the group. ‘In biology, we’ve had great success stories — the human genome, the mouse genome. But what is not talked about is that we have the pieces but don’t have a clue as to how the system works. Increasingly, we think the answer is in networks’.”
Hopes were sky high back in 1997 for the new Scottish Parliament building “designed by the Catalan architect Enric Miralles as ‘the visual embodiment of exciting constitutional change’. How those hopes have turned to ashes. The Parliament, once estimated to cost between £10 and £40 million and scheduled to open last December, is now expected to come in at £338.1 million. Completion is not expected before November.” It’s all a big mess – so what happened?