Archive for January, 2005

Keitai Culture

I’m probably filing this into the wrong section, but what the hey.

After running a few google searches on subjects which lead to an interesting journey with none to many pitstops, I think it’s safe for me to say that I find this whole cellphone-culture thing rather fascinating, sometimes obsurd and sometimes breathtaking. The journey where gadgets take us usually leads to Japan, where I’ve honestly been trying to wrap my head around some of the things they’ve been incorporating into their “Keitai Culture” (13mb, rm format). Those nifty Japanese folk
Image via Springwise
All the while I’m sitting and admiring my ability to take photographs with this puny little thing, check my email, run google image searches and check local traffic reports (mind you, this is all very new to me), the culture around cellular phones in Japan has grown to the point where, according to sources, “Keitai Denwa” (“mobile phone” in Japanese) are barely being used for actual voice conversation anymore. Reasons for this vary, but beyond the fact that Japanese phone services have been making a constant effort to turn the handsets into devices which provide constant innovation in the world of content, Japan apparently has a very strict consensus regarding cellular phone manners, and it is considered rude to engage in a voice conversation on the bus, train or subway, restaurants and shops as well as other public places. In comparison, an Israeli might feel comfortable taking a phone call in a movie theater (even if it’s just “I’ll call you back”).

In an odd business move, NTT DoCoMo, Japanese Keitai giant has announced a strategic parnership with Israel’s leading mobile provider, Cellcom. DoCoMo stands behind i-mode, the cellular content technology said to be the main “spark” which ignited the Japanese Keitai culture, and this strategic partnership means that both i-mode services AND handsets are going to be introduced into the Israeli mobile market in the 2nd half of 2005 (according to Cellcom’s spokespeople) under the campaign of “bringing the mobile internet to everyone”. To tell the honest truth, I’m not so sure it’d be a market hit in this country or a technology head-turner; mobile internet has been around for a while (I’ve been blogging wirelessly since 2001) and i-mode was intended, when it was introduced to the Japanese market in 1999, to be introductory. It has obviously gone a long way since then, but the Israeli consumer hasn’t been a big fan of wireless internet services, even though there is virtually no handset being sold today or in the past few years in the country which does not have internet connectivity. I-mode has a killer app in it’s bag – email sent directly to the handset, but only time will tell if the Israeli consumer will be won over by that alone. Not to mention, of course, that the 3g services in Israel are currently trying to pry their feet out of their mouths and everyone seems to be risking “product overload” with no services based on global standards . Oops.

You might argue, of course, that these services haven’t been introduced to the Israeli public in the right way. That may be true, but there’s going to have to be better effort put into the marketing of wireless internet becuase the demographics and social situation of both Israel and Japan are so different – our communications culture is currently rooted deep in broadband desktop internet, the Japanese communications culture isn’t. In fact, many Japanese teenagers are computer illiterate and broadband desktop access isn’t as popular as in Israel. Does this all fall into place now? Sure it does :)

Regardless, overseas, cellular phone culture seems to be a vast, colorful world (bunt und shoen, thanks Cauldy for the expression) so here are a few links for you to journey out on your own, if you so wish:
My moblog, photos from keitaicam.
Japanese Emoticons, what they mean and how they differ.
Springwise, on the phonestrap phenominon.
Wireless Watch Japan, as it happens.
Keitai Log, updated once in a blue moon., useful WAP services, good for watching your bank account balance tip in the wrong direction ;)

I’d like to talk about Green Day.

We all have our guilty musical pleasures, music we used to listen to when we were much younger and as time progressed, so did the music, and we were there to follow closely from both a musical, social and anthropological perspective.

Billyjoe ArmstrongWell, my guilty musical pleasure is Green Day, which went with me through my pre-teenage and teenage years, all the way through to being a twenty-something. “Kerplunk” was released by Lookout records in 1991, it was about 1995 when I started picking through the record racks. I was 13 at the time, needless to say this type of music was considered “oddball-ish” for a young girl. The band wasn’t very well-known or popular in Israel at the time, and as the years progressed and the releases came out (“Dookie”, Insomniac”, am I missing anything major?), I became a devoted fan.

When “Nimrod” came out in 1997 and my first year of higschool, The band suddenly burst into the local mass media. I was more or less indifferent to that fact, but the seemingly natural progression of the music as it was portrayed in the album started to worry me; this was music which had become, for a lack of a better term, “agreeable”. Not that it was any implication that I was a non-agreeable teenager (although my mother will heavily disagree), but the same elements which kept the band’s music from the mainstream media were the elements which allowed me to connect with the music, and these elements were slowly making way for something else. The band, which had up until then been played on late-night shows exclusively were suddenly proposing more agreeable music which allowed them to be played on the radio 50 times a day. I was not happy.

“Warning” came out in 2000 and left me with a sinking feeling; my favorite band no longer spoke to me. And while I cannot blame an artist for not following my own personal musical progression (obviously), I was old enough at the time to piece together the clues; they had switched record labels, they had tuned their sound very pricisely to a very specific market, their releases seemed to be timed, they were appearing on soundtracks.

It’s not that I have, or had, an ideological issue with music which plays “teacher’s pet” to the media. As a fan of R.E.M, Foo Fighters, Blur and The Offspring (or what’s left of The Offspring), I know it’s not crime to make your music and want to sell it too. Selling your music lets you make more of it. But when by selling your music you sacrfice your own personal musical progression because you seem to have found an recipe which works the best with the record companies, that’s when the siren alarms go off. In this case, contrary to pupular belief, success promotes redundancy and not innovation.

I cautiously picked up a copy of “Shenanigans” in 2002, a collection of B-sides and, as far as I was concerned after listening to the album more than once: Regurgitation. Chomp, chomp, chew. Actually, in my “Shenanigans” jewel-case at the moment, it seems as if it’s been preoccupied by a copy of Anti-Flag’s “Underground Network”.

The “straw that snapped the camel’s back” was when the band preformed The Clash’s “I Fought the Law and the Law Won” at 2004’s Superbowl, under the wing of our friends The Recording Industry Association of America – the RIAA. Those folks which have been suing people like your grandmother and your 12 year old neighbor for file-sharing, you know who I’m talking about. This incident INFURIATED me to the point where I near vowed not to purchase another Green Day album for as long as the band kept releasing them, and this was not a decision to take lightly for me, as anyone could relate regarding such a band which had such a positive impact on his or her childhood. It was no question that Green Day had thrown up the white flag; they might have not been the ultimate in political fighters in their not-to-distant past, but it was this point where it became clear, I can imagine, to each Green Day fan where the band’s prioritries lay.

This leads me to what I really want to talk about: “American Idiot”, the band’s most recent album. The first track by the same name seems to be a decieving trick, since it’s the most “agreeable” song on the album and the one the band released first. To my surprise, this track isn’t anything like the rest of the album. The album is surprising. The album is non-agreeable. The album seems to be Green Day. The 3rd track on the album, titled “Holiday” is what took me by most surprise. For the first time in a very long while, it sounds like the band has given more than a coin-flip’s thought as to the lyrics, the guitar riffs (I’m serious! go have a listen if you don’t believe me!), in fact, this album sounds like the natural progression that should have come after “Insomniac”. Tracks like this, “Boulevard of Broken Dreams”, “Are We the Waiting”, “Homecoming” prove to me that the band have finally learned from their own music. I am very impressed.

Will I go out and purchase the album? Probably. While this might obviously conflict with my anger towards the band for rubbing the RIAA the right way, there’s one thing which dominates all else: the music. That which should have been dominant for this band when they stood at that fork in the road 8 years ago, and this is my way of not making the same mistake, and hoping that they’re finally pulling themselves back on the right track, because it sure sounds like it.

So for all the Green Day fans which will be boycotting this album becuase of a band’s bad decision so long ago, and the band’s questionable peers in the music industry, here’s one who is willing to forgive and forget, if only for the music’s sake.
Now go listen to “Holiday“.

nicht kosher, aber sehr gut

marinated shrimp a la Liron

We made marinated shrimp a few nights back when my brother was home from the army, I thought I’d share the recipe for the butter sauce I made up as we went.

What you’ll need:

  • 1/2 kilo shrimp (weighed before shelling), shelled & deveined (and cooked)
  • 100g butter or butter flavored margarine, unsalted
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon powdered garlic
  • A pinch of basil
  • A spoonfull of Dijon mustard

1. Simmer butter on low heat until melted. Add garlic and stir for about 3-5 minutes.
2. Add salt, basil. Stir well.
3. Add mustard and continue stirring for about 5 minutes or until blended well.
4. Add shrimp into the sauce, continue stirring on low heat for another 5 minutes.
5. Serve!

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