Podcast: Digital and Analog


This week's Sound of Young America broadcast looks at the future of media -- and at its past.

Mark Frauenfelder and Xeni Jardin are two of the c0-editors of Boing-Boing.net, one of the world's most popular blogs. Frauenfelder started Boing Boing as a print zine in 1988, and grew to a website in the mid-90s, and a blog a few years later. Today, it attracts 1.75 million visitors every day. Topics covered range from futurism and cyber culture to ukeleles and the just plan weird and fascinating. We talk with Mark and Xeni about the history of Boing Boing, internet culture, and how blogs are changing the world of media, and changing themselves as time marches on.

We also talk with John Vanderslice. Vanderslice is a recording artist, as well as a record producer and the owner of Tiny Telephone Recording in San Francisco, one of the last all-analog studios in the United States. He started his career as a member of MK Ultra, before becoming a solo artist. His most recent record "Pixel Revolt," is a dense, literary journey in song. He's also produced records by the Mountain Goats and Spoon. We talk with John about why he still cuts tape in the studio, and about his remarkable songs. Don't miss the bonus interview and MP3 downloads below.

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Bonus Interview
Kevin Kelly on the Future of Books

Kevin Kelly is the "Senior Maverick" at Wired Magazine, as well as the editor of the blog Cool Tools. We talk with Kevin about the future of books in a digital world, from scanning projects going on around the globe to the copyright issues that are currently in court. His recent cover story on the subject ran in the New York Times Magazine.

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Bonus Interview
John Vanderslice on Producing

John tells us about his production work with artists like John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats.

Download the John Vanderslice Bonus Material

Listen to Bonus Material Online

Music Downloads
John Vanderslice - "Exodus Damage"
John Vanderslice - "Trance Manual"
Also heard: "Angela"
(all from "Pixel Revolt")

Incidental Music by DJW

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A fine, fine show, young man. Thank you for not cutting off Vanderslice when he started describing wave forms. ("Talks over his guests," my foot.) I finally understand the objection to digital.

It's too bad he doesn't entirely know what he's talking about re: analog v. digital. His main complaint seems rather valid, in that the crappyness of tape gives a unique feel to the attack, however, all one has to do is record it on tape -- which will take care of the attack dampening -- and then digitally edit that using protools or whatever. He basically talked bad about how a copy/paste album isn't as good as one done linearly, but that the main problem he has is the sound itself. He even went on to say that he does as much cutting and pasting as he can without using the digital tools, and even praising the hiphop people who have figured out this tape attack fix, and yet simultaneously condemning digital recording. Really, if you're going to cut and paste anyway, you may as well do it digitally, no? I think it might be him that's a tool :)Oh, and one thing I have to call bullshit on: His railing about how Star Wars Episode 1 looked like crap due to being filmed digitally. That is just plain nonsense. Sure the scenes with actors were shot digitally, but the starfields that he was complaining about have pretty much been digital for decades. It's not like everytime there's a space shot someone goes and points an actual camera up at the stars.. those visuals were never captured by any camera, digital or otherwise. The fact that he couldnt focus on things was also due to the fact that cineplexes typically use the shittiest bulbs they can find, so the image doesnt burn into your retinas strongly enough to provide the seamless transition of frames required to make animation smooth. Every movie projected in 1999 (and most of them still today) look like crap due to subpar bulbs, cheap interlaced digital projectors and whatnot, and the fact that he points out that the fault lies in Star Wars -- the first all digital film -- proves to me that he's full of shit.Great interview nonetheless, and he seems like a great guy, it's just obvious he's letting his bias against digital affect his perceptions. I really wish you could have Mythbustered him and made him tell you whether something was recorded analog or digital, because I seriously doubt he can really tell the difference.