ulrich gutmair (by way of Josephine Bosma) on Fri, 19 Feb 1999 20:07:22 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> HTML dejaying

HTML deejaying.
y/our favourite lo-tekst myth.

william gibson had this nice definition of cyberspace being the space
between telephone connections. ironically this space was unfolded to
transport text-only messages from some remote server to your computer on
the channels which were originally made for carrying the human voice.

in the beginning there was ascii. and writing e-mails meant to explore a
strange new media tool; you just couldn't decide if it was the text based
version of an answering machine or a product of the telephonization of the
good old letter. in one sense the early ascii based internet (do you
remember *lynx*?) already showed the dialectics of current audio-streaming
technologies: there was information that waited for your request, texts
stored on ftp-servers or web-pages, the classic pull media. but there also
was the possibility to sort of push information through cyberspace: e-mail
spams for example, or a mailinglist.

today many people, groups and companies use audio-information in this
two-fold way. there are archives providing sounds, pieces of music or
entire programmes on retrieval and demand. on the other hand there is an
increasing amount of live streaming going on, some of the streams coming in
occasionally, some are installed on a 24/24 h basis.

there is a historical gap between the two formats of text and sound, it
seems. but there was a tiny moment in history, when the gap was bridged by
a unique technique...

...when, in the beginning of 1997, convex tv. started its
one-hour-per-month-on-air-programme in berlin. for the very first months
the collective didn't have the tools, the knowledge and the connections to
Radio Internationale Stadt to broadcast audio on the net. it was then that
the collective thought about a genuine form of broadcasting on the internet
parallel to its on air transmissions, to tear down the borders of formerly
discrete media. the invention was simple: HTML deejaying.

while broadcasting on air (which wasn't quite broad actually, only covering
the berlin area) the transcribed texts of the on air radio programmes were
cut up in digestible chucks and pushed onto the server through an open
ftp-connection, synchronized in real-time with the ongoing broadcast. the
HTML deejay in duty permanently *reloaded* the page with new content when
it was time to do so.

listeners who only had access to a radio receiver listened, listeners with
an additional net-account listened and read, and listeners who couldn't
listen, because they were in, say, budapest, had a strange read-only
experience. the page would constantly *refresh* with permanently new
information on it. maybe it was the first text transmission on the net that
behaved like an audiovisual medium, maybe it was the last. as a
simultaneous translation from spoken words into text, it was somehow dirty:
of course the text version was never the latest version, the version of the
actually spoken words. so they were gaps, errors, short moments of
dissonance between the sound on the radio and the gifs and text on the web.

to transform all this into a true form of deejaying, it had to be performed
in *public*. so, you could visit convex tv. and see it be done live on a
kitchen table! yeah, it was smart. HTML DEEJAYING. (then announced in the
typical tech-speak as a *plug-in* and in general a good thing when anybody
asked why convex tv. called itself tv. ...)

the atavistic remains of it can be found on the convex tv. homepage: in the
archive you can access transcriptions additional to the audio files. by
chance, convex tv.'s shift from HTML deejaying to using RealAudio coincided
with WIREDs *push media manifesto*.
the corresponding *pull media manifesto*
(http://art-bag.net/convextv/pull.html) was published as a reaction in
march '97:

We interrupt this real time downloading for a special bulletin -PULL! Kiss
your convex-plug in goodbye: The radical future of radio beyond the Web.

By the editors of convex tv.

Remember the war between stereo and mono? Well, forget it, the frequency
itself is about to croak. And good riddance. In its place broader and
deeper new interfaces for tactical media are being born. Left Channel and
Right Channel, propelled by hot young Mitte start-ups. Levelling and
Balance, spawned in the engineering labs of the broadcast kings. And from
the content companies, prototypes powered by underlying new technologies  -
Real Audio and real Audio.

What they share are ways to move seamlessly between media you steer
(passive) and media that steer you (interactive). They promote media that
merrily slip across channels, guiding human attention as it skips from
tuning device to phonetop speaker to a car stereo. These new interfaces
work with existing media, such as voice, yet they also work on language.
But most important, they work in the emerging universe of self-referential
media that are spreading across the audiocosm.

As everything gets wireless, media of all kind are moving to the
centralized matrix known as the Ether. While the traditional forms
-internet, multimedia - show many signs of vanishing, the Ether is being
invaded by even older media species. convex tv. is one. Yet with each
additional transmitting station, each new antenna, the media the Ether can
support become richer, more complex, more nuanced. The Ether has begun
offering things you simply can't hear.

Pull Here!

if you now start to wonder how paradoxical this sounds, first re-read
WIRED's manifesto (http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/5.03/ff_push.html)
for comparison. the pull media manifesto also refers to convex tv.'s first
experiment with stereo-broadcasting. in order to double precious on-air
time, this stereo-show used the two stereo channels for transmitting two
different programmes, thus importing the idea of *interactivity* into
radiospace. in victimizing mono-freaks and annoying radio-users it happily
abused the utopia of interactivity at the same time: listeners had to
switch between channels, otherwise there was audio mayhem in the living
room. the *pull here* command of the manifesto opened the first link to
convex tv.'s new born audio archive, then starting with the april '97 show.
necronauts, pull here!

convex tv.
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