Another sporadic post in a blog that I’m not sure anyone reads anymore given the lack of posts.

But, damn, I’ve been busy. Busier than at any time in my life. I’ve written more words than I’ve ever written – school and uni included – and yet I’ve more or less ignored these pages, where I’ve done much of my writing in recent years because time is something I’ve really not had options on squandering on the frivolity of taking time to relax by blogging.

And no, I’m not trying to be a martyr or elicit sympathy. It’s voluntary.

What it is is this, which was announced a month back. And rather than expecting anyone to read through a press release issued by a government related entity I’ll post the first few paragraphs:

NZ On Air today announced funding for a new website telling the story of popular New Zealand music. Made by the people who were there, AudioCulture will map the NZ music landscape, connecting people, recordings, places, scenes and record labels from the early twentieth century until today.
Until now there has been no single place to go to find out about NZ music. Information, recordings and histories are being lost. Led by site Creative Director and music doyen Simon Grigg, AudioCulture will work with artists, historians and music industry people to tell the stories of our music over the last hundred years from the first recording in the 1920s.

AudioCulture will contain reviews, discographies, interviews, biographical information, background articles, images, recordings and music videos, discussion and commentary from fans and artists.

So, yes that’s me and apparently I’m a ‘doyen’ – I didn’t write it but the Free Dictionary tells me it means ‘A man who is the eldest or senior member of a group’, which I take to mean someone who is about to put out to pasture – soon – and they need to find something handy for him to do in the interim.

Yup, me, a ‘doyen’ (as defined) with time on his hands. For some reason, I hadn’t mentioned this project in detail here before, the reason mostly being the massive workload I’ve happily invented for myself and several other ‘doyens’ – not least Murray Cammick who’s the editor – and younger aspiring ‘doyens’ (it’s not just old men telling stories I promise).

I talked about it all with Trevor Reekie here (linking to it as I’ve not done it here to date but I thought it was a good interview and I do rather enjoy talking to Trevor about most anything).

As anyone who knows me is likely well aware, given that I’ve earbashed whichever misfortunate was in range, this is a project I’ve been pushing for since time began, and it’s been a long obsessed slog – the scariest part of which was the bit when someone said yes, as they have now. However I’ve always believed it’s too important not to do – we have been until now, private amateur enterprise aside, as a nation utterly hopeless at preserving our musical legacy and nothing nailed that more for me than the heinous fact that at the last music awards when it was necessary for the organisers to get a writer in to concoct a piece explaining to the sponsors who exactly Toy Love were.

It’s the rough equivalent of having to explain to an Englishman or woman who The Sex Pistols were. Such a thing really would not have been necessary – they just know, unlike the corporate sponsors in NZ who simply don’t. I’m not sure if that says more about their (mostly forgivable) ignorance, or about our poor recording of the history involved (unless you hunt the often extraordinary blogs like Mysterex, 5000 Ways or Dubdotdash), but they could be forgiven if  you’d tried to extract their worth from the Toy Love wiki which is nigh on useless as is huge parts of the rest of that site’s documentation of our New Zealand musical culture and past.

A few weeks ago a dim editor proposed deleting the wikipedia entry on AK79 – it was unimportant said he/she! To who? It was and is a cornerstone compilation for we New Zealanders and part of our cultural history for so very many reasons, not least in that it kick-started the thriving independent recording industry we know have in New Zealand.

There was an attempt to delete The Suburban Reptiles a few years back – defeated by aghast New Zealanders.

Which really means that if we don’t do it ourselves then nobody bloody well will. The task is rather immense and I’m at best bemused by the few naysayers making noises about the amount of money budgeted in year one (and no I haven’t been given that amount of money – that’s the budget applied to the overall project, but you were able to work that obvious bit out, right?).

Really, you try and create the architecture for an interactive, multi-layered, multi-media site that will likely have 20,000 pages to tell the stories that need to be told in way that complements and illustrates respectfully within a few years for less. What do you suggest? Selecting a free Wordpress theme and a couple of handy plugins?

Seriously.

And that is really the a big part of the point, and I’m going to say it here, and say it again, over and over – this is a multi year project and when it launches next June (or May – NZ Music Month perhaps) it will be but a skeleton with a little hint of the flesh and muscle that will come as time passes. It has to have time to grow and there is a broad strategy for doing so, until – sanity, health and act of god (no I don’t believe in him either but the term implies providence I guess) – we reach a place where the writers, contributors and public (‘cos you’ll be adding stuff as well, that’s central) have forged a site that documents the stuff that those VNZMA sponsors couldn’t find or simply didn’t know.

As an aside, can our leaders possibly find a way in the interim to fund – or let Kim Dotcom or whoever fund – the crucial new NZ to world data cable? I’d like the rest of the world to see this at a reasonable speed please. Accessing NZ pages from offshore even now can be a hit and wait ordeal at times. It’s a wee bit more important than another road.

 

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