"In most any other city in the country at that time, if you tried to put a company together that included a couple of sport-coat-and-tie-wearing yuppies, some pocket-protector, can’t-give-you-a-good-handshake computer nerds, as well as some hippie-freak rock-and-roll poster artists, those three walks of life would not get along and respect one another. When you come to Austin, those three walks of life are intermingled throughout the city. At SXSW, my group of nerds was embraced by the rock-and-roll hippie freaks, and the business suits were welcomed into the community.” —RichardGarriott, founder, Origin Systems; creator, online game Ultima (now creative director, Portalarium; astronaut, Space Adventures)
"Plants are just another object we take for granted. We think of them as a thing that sits in the corner that we water once a week. But really, they can be so much more than that. They can be a remote. They can be a musical instrument. They can be anything interactive that takes you away from plastic and glass and into the whole world that’s touchable around you.
Watch: Two Fast Company interns hacked houseplants to make them play music when they’re touched.
"Plants became more than just a plant. They became actual objects that we have an incentive to water."
"Sound is physical in some fundamental way. It’s actually a physical vibration. When I’m talking, my voice is moving through the air and actually touching you in a real way … It just feels good when you hear a noise you like.”
@—wnycradiolab’s Jad Abumrad on storytelling with sound
Launching today in the iTunes App Store: Beats Music
Hoping to replicate its headphones success in the streaming market, Beats is positioning its service—which will take on the likes of Spotify, Google, Apple, and others—as the one that understands users’ emotions, offering the best of human curation and computer algorithm.
Troy Carter couldn’t get Gaga’s first single “Just Dance” on pop radio, so in 2008 he put his new act on a rigorous schedule—sometimes four shows a night, playing to gay clubs or arty fashion crowds. Gaga and Carter began experimenting with Twitter and Facebook, engaging fans and pumping out homespun content on YouTube. At the time, these channels were seen as enemies to the music business, but Carter saw them as inexpensive ways to reach the masses.
As he did this, he became fascinated with how tech companies approach industries outside of their core—whether it was Amazon with data storage or Google with YouTube. “These are businesses that you can’t quite define and mean something different to different people,” he says. "I said, ‘We’re doing it totally wrong down here [in Hollywood].’"
Chris Hadfield is a hero. A boss. The real deal. Not simply because he was Commander of the International Space Station, but for what he did while up there. Not content with being just “an astronaut,” he assumed the role of rock-star spaceman, conducting regular science-experiment videos from space, answering questions like, “What happens to tears in space?” Then, he gave us this: the first video from space. Watching Hadfield’s rendition of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” while orbiting the Earth is nothing short of sublime. Mr. Hadfield, you win 2013.
"Bored" with traditional releases, Beyoncé puts out a new album in secret
I find a lot of “interactive music apps” intimidating, because while they may have clever interfaces, the limiting factor on their output is always my own complete lack of musical intuition. I wouldn’t expect that jangling on the keys of a piano would sound decent if I didn’t know what I was doing; why should a music app be any different? That’s what makes Scott Snibbe’s latest app, Synthetica (made in collaboration with the independent rock and roll band Metric), so delightfully surprising. It really is pretty hard to make sucky music with this thing.
To help you brush up on how rock music evolved into the many-tentacled beast that it is today, designer Brittany Klontz created an interactive infographic for ConcertHotels.com that maps 100 years of genres in less than a minute. It not only provides the names and birth dates of each style, but also offers sample songs allowing you to finally know what skiffle sounds like.
This is the must-watch thing on the internet today. So seamless.
The LittleBits Synth Kit uses the power of magnets to enable anyone to build their own synthesizer. Let the incomparable Reggie Watts show you how it’s done.
What does breaking news sound like? Circa, the popular mobile news app built on brevity, thinks it can name that tune in one second.
"We want something that’s going to evoke emotion, something that has a sense of urgency but not interruptions. I want something that’s going to be synthetic but inviting."
A look at what Amazon users are buying on vinyl
The sound of Wikipedia being updated is surprisingly relaxing.
Listen to Wikipedia, inspired by Listen to Bitcoin and created by Mahmoud Hashemi and Stephen LaPorte, transforms the worldwide editing process into a relaxed global orchestra. A celesta plays whenever an addition is made. A clavichord sounds whenever something is deleted. The higher the pitch, the smaller the edit.