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Sit On My Facebook

Iím taking a powder for this monthís CRUMBS Night Out but I wish I could be there. My regular co-host attorney Paul Czech is just back for the Midem music conference in Cannes and will be leading a bodacious panel on the state of the music industry. Joining Paul will be our pal, Philadephia mega-music attorney Bernie Resnick, local music legend Gary Tash, and recording studio owner Tim Lynch. What a freakiní panel! And on top of that there will be a set of music by flirting-with-the-big-time teenagers Stuck on Stupid. This is at the Linda on Central Avenue, Thursday the 26th.

And now for something completely different: Last summer I met violinist/electronic musician Todd Reynolds (Bang on a Can, Meredith Monk, Yo Yo Maís Silk Road) at a party in Pittsfield. He seemed like a cool dude, so I invited him to be a guest on my radio program, The Splatto Festival, on WBCR-LP in Great Barrington. A month or so later I introduced Todd to ace percussionist/sound designer Ed Mann (Zappa, a bunch of solo albums, a lifetime of major session work, etc.); Ed and Todd decided they should play together sometime. I figured that adding my pal free-jazz saxophonist Dave Barrett (Splatter Trio, No Sisters) would make for a nice trio, so I asked Dave to join the fun. Then master bassist Michael Bisio happened by and I invited him, too. So, last September 19th, these four prodigiously talented and crazy musicians all met for the first time at WBCR-LP studios in Great Barrington, and, after introductions and small talk, improvised live on the air for 90 magical minutes. It went so incredibly well and was so much fun that they decided on the spot to form a band, The Splatto Festival Chorus, named after my radio show. The SFC will be at the Sanctuary for Independent Media in Troy this Saturday at 8 PM for a concert and CD/DVD recording session. You can download the September broadcast at my radio blog

Iíve received a barrage of inquiries about this whole Facebook terms of use debacle that just happened. Iím usually all over this stuff, and Iím an avid Facebook user, but the fact is Iíve been on vacation in the middle of Mexico with my brain turned off for the past week. From the hysterics Iíve heard, it seems like a combination of out-of-it weenie lawyers, corporate stupidity, consumer paranoia, and a social networking paradigm everyone is struggling to get their minds around. And thatís just about right.

From what Iíve read, Facebook was trying to get its terms of use to comport with reality. When someone leaves Facebook and takes down their page, that personís footprints will be all over Facebook: There will be posts to friendsí sites, photos tagged on friendsí sites, stuff all over the place. Thatís the nature of social networking. Facebook tried to change the terms of service to say that when you leave Facebook, these footprints will remain, and you acknowledge that. Facebook will still have some of your stuff.

Of course, the new terms of use were stated in dense legalese, with over-broad terms that could be interpreted to mean that Facebook was suddenly glomming all your stuff for any purpose forever. I mean, the new terms were ridiculous.

Oops! The outcry was loudónot terribly well-informed, but effective nonetheless. After some statements that sounded like ďwell maybe thatís what we said but itís not what we meantĒ corporate double-speak, the threat of lawsuits, and the formation of a bunch of Facebook groups proclaiming a revolt against all things Facebook, the new terms of use were rescinded and the old ones put back in place. The Facebook powers-that-be are now saying that new terms will be developed in collaboration with the Facebook ďcommunity,Ē last pegged at something like 175 million users. Good luck with that.

Whether this was much doo-doo about nothing or not, it actually proves, once again, the brilliance and vibrancy of social networking structures. Word gets out, gets discussed, and things happen on these sites with incredible speed and power. Sometimes information is exaggerated and imprecise, just like in the real world, but the truth eventually comes out, just like in the real world. Except so much faster, so much bigger, and so much more effectively.

There was in reality little real harm that some corporate entity was going to steal your stuff. If that started happening there would be such an exodus from Facebook that the company would collapse overnight. But some loose language was fixed, some uncertainties clarified, and a company was corrected. Virtually overnight.

óPaul Rapp

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