Wiimotes: They’re Not Just for Gaming Anymore

With every new toy comes hacks and modifications. It’s no wonder that Nintendo’s Wiimote, the Bluetooth-enabled control device for the Nintendo Wii, quickly found itself on the operating block. After enthusiasts figured out how to get the Wiimote to transmit information to any Bluetooth-enabled computer, many possibilities opened up. One really great application has been in controlling sound and music applications. It started with simply getting the Wiimote to trigger digital deejay software and developed into full-fledged sound design, such as in this video of people playing a Wiimote to make real-time lightsaber noises (warning: impossible without thousands of dollars of computer processing and highly advanced sound design techniques).

What does this mean for teens? Well, the possibility to get them engaged in at least three forms of literacy at once! Imagine them, if you will, using a Wiimote to mash up a chapter of their favorite audiobook with the new Timbaland single.

For more information on the tools needed, http://www.wiili.org should get you started. For some of the more deejay-specific tips, take a look at http://www.djwiij.com. As always, feel free to discuss the potential applications of these exciting new technologies in the comments or at the ya-music list.

Copyright and DRM – What’s Next?

Yesterday EMI announced that it would sell songs through iTunes without digital rights management protection on the files. What’s the big deal? Well, that means that anyone who buys an EMI recording on iTunes will no longer have to find ways to break the DRM (digital rights management) on the file in order to play it on something other than an iPod. No more feeling like the only choice one has is to break the law in order to get to listen to music on the device of choice. No longer will someone with songs purchased from iTunes be locked into using an iPod for music listening. No longer do the music companies have a say in what the public gets to do with music they spend money on.

The music will be sold for $1.29 instead of the .99 that is the typical cost at iTunes. Music files without DRM will also be of a higher quality than what is already available at iTunes. There has been some debate about whether or not downloaders would be willing to spend more for DRM free music, particularly if it’s better quality sound. This is sure to be the test.

This is a pretty big step and Steve Jobs said at the EMI announcement that he suspects more and more music will be sold without DRM leading to 50% of the music being DRM free by the end of the year.

Wow!

As someone who believes that intellectual property and copyright are important, but has struggled in the recent past to stay legal, this is a move that sounds just right. A few more cents to not break the law – sounds great!

You and the teens you work with can vote on whether or not DRM free music is a good idea. You can also read more about the plan at Business Week.

Circuit bend new life into old toys

Looking for a program to capitalize on geekiness, 80s nostalgia, and DIY trends all at once? Or maybe your teens don’t care what program you do as long as they can break stuff? Try circuit bending. Circuit bending is the process of creating wild new electronic connections in all sorts of things that make sound–from keyboards to Speak & Spells.

All you need are a bunch of old electronic toys from your local thrift store, batteries, a soldering iron, and various electronic circuit components. If that sounds intimidating, don’t worry. Here are some links to get you started:

Online video tutorial (courtesy of MAKE)
Circuit bending pathfinder (again courtesy of MAKE)
Inspiration (you’ll see)

It’s a great program to get teens to open things up, experiment with their guts, and leave them brand new and quite interesting. And isn’t that how you want your teens to be thinking about the library?

Teen Second Life follow up

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usGreat post about concerts in Second Life! Eye4You Alliance Island streamed our first concert into TSL last week. We’re partnering with Muse Isle on the main grid of Second Life and worked with a live band in Atlanta, Lee Broderick, and Sarah Mac. The teens created a performance stage right away and really enjoyed the music.

You can use a microphone or Winamp to stream in music to Teen Second Life. We just need a URL and we’re good to go. I’d invite any library that is having a concert to contact me, we can stream the music to our island so that teens from all over the world can listen to it: eye4youalliance@gmail.com or join our island as a volunteer. We’re hoping to partner in real life this weekend with Dancing for Darfur so that we can raise money on the Teen Grid for a good cause and the teens can have a great time.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

Take your teens on a live concert tour (without leaving the library)

I’ll admit it. I have enough trouble maintaining my “first life,” let alone a second one. That’s why I’ve never really given Second Life more than a cursory glance–that is, until I stumbled on their music community page.

The digital music options in Second Life provide a wealth of opportunities for programming and service. You can visit live concerts, check out online DJs, and even participate in meet ‘n greets with nationally-known artists. You’ll find quite the variety of artists available. Even Chamillionaire got into the act last summer. You also have a lot of options for participation. Having a battle of the bands? Stream it. Want to show off your CD collection? You can stream that, too.

So, for anyone who’s at least as far behind the curve as I am, I suggest checking out Second Life for what it can offer you and your teens in that regard.

(And for those of you interested in media diversity, check out this news if you haven’t, and breathe a sigh of relief. Hopefully, more radio exposure to a broader range of artists will help increase the circulation on some of our lesser-known offerings.)

Censoring music creation

Many libraries use ACID or GarageBand to create music. Music usually tells someone’s story and creating songs is probably only going to grow in popularity at libraries. How do we decide what can or can’t be part of someone’s story?

There are controversial topics and swearing in books, CDs, and DVDs purchased for a collection. Should song creation be treated differently? If libraries have rules in regards to music creation, does the library support these rules by not playing certain songs during library events or not using certain songs to promote something at the library because of the lyrics-or just hope that most people won’t notice? Is a certain type of music being targeted? Should content creation be reviewed before it’s deemed okay to leave the library?

Most teens are probably familiar with censorship because of the radio. Music is a great way to connect with teens and their stories. Many libraries have the tools and the space to engage teens to create their own music. Share your thoughts and don’t forget about YALSA’s newest discussion list, YA-MUSIC.

Splice: Collaborative Music for the Remix Set

Looking for a quick ‘n easy Teen Tech Week program that can reach your local audioheads, from the pop superstar to the most jaded scenester? Perhaps you’re wondering how to get your teens thinking about copyright in light of the recent mixtape drama? Check out Splice Music, where your teens can mix, mashup, and make all-new jams without worry of running afoul of the RIAA.

Splice Music works by providing users with a web-based sequencer, with which they can record, arrange, and edit sounds. Every time somebody makes a song, all of the sounds and arrangements are available to all other users (via Creative Commons licensing). So even if your teens couldn’t sing or play an instrument to save their lives, they still have access to countless other user-created sounds to bend and shape at their will. And if that’s not enough, Splice Music taps into huge Creative Commons-licensed sound databases such as CCMixter.org and The Freesound Project to make sure that your teens can never run out of ideas.

To see it in action, check out this short demo video.