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Posts Tagged ‘creative’

So much for regular blogging, eh? Things have been afoot, and I am being creative musically and otherwise, but it’s been such an odd year that I haven’t really been good at being regular about blogging. Still, I hope this will change, and in the spirit of that, here is something I created. It’s been a little while since I wrote any short stories, so it’s a little rusty, but it seems in keeping with the world at the moment, or at least my less favourable feelings about the world at the moment, so I present:

Workhouse V2.0 

The 6am Klaxon jolted Tav into a bleary, muddled wakefulness, yanking her from a dream in which she had been enjoying mashed potato and gravy. She had never eaten mashed potato and gravy, but from the books she had read – when there had been books – she imagined it to be salty, buttery, warm. Comforting. It had always struck her, how authors had been obsessed with describing food. Midnight feasts fuelled by lashings of ginger beer. Hot, steaming slices of juicy roast meat served with flavourful vegetables and spicy punch. Creamy hot chocolate. It amazed her that there could ever have been a time when chocolate had ever been available to anyone other than the Overseers.

Another day, another dollar. Wasn’t that the saying? Only there were no dollars here. You worked for Nutritabs (TM) and water, a cot to sleep in and your continued existence.

It hadn’t always been like this. People spoke in whispers of a time in the late 2030’s when work was exchanged for money, and people had some measure of freedom. Advanced automation techniques had forever changed the face of capitalism – now only the Overseers could go Outside. They owned the factories and the machines, which at first had been a wonderful, labour-saving development. However, when the crisis hit, in 2041, there were no jobs for ordinary people any more. Debt had spiralled out of control, and without employment millions were soon destitute.

It was felt that the people would only experience satisfaction if they worked. Work was the tool to greater motivation, self esteem and worth. So, the WorkFarm was born. Of course all of the necessary tasks to keep society running were already taken care of by the AIs but it was simple enough to find mundane tasks that the Workers could do that, while not actually productive, would keep their hands busy and their minds numb.

Of course, some found it harder than others. The former doctors, lawyers, nurses, firemen and women, teachers – many of them chose to SelfPurge before being rounded up into the WorkFarm. And some were not deemed suitable for the program. It would have been a cruelty to expect the infirm and disabled to cope. The deviants would not have been safe to be in the confines of the Farm – how, after all, could you protect someone from sexual attack from members of their own sex? The resultant drop in population size was seen by many as a blessing. Now there would be more food, more medicine and more resources to go around.

The canteen was silent as Tav and the others shuffled in in a line. Each was given a Nutritab (TM) and a cup of water, each sat on a sterile metal bench to consume it. The benches were not designed for comfort – you would not sit there for long. Time wasted is time lost forever, as the slogans on the wall said. Breakfast generally took less than 5 minutes from joining the queue to dropping one’s cup in the disposal chute. If a Worker was not on the Floor by 6:15am ready to start work, they risked solitary confinement, loss of rations or the Sting.

Tav’s work, like that of the other women, involved twisting bolts onto screws. Minute after minute, hour after hour, she plucked a bolt from one box, and a screw from the other, and twisted them together. Oftentimes the screws or the bolts were so worn that they were too stiff to work together, or the threads were gone. But a non-assembled screw and bolt would earn the Sting. More than one would elicit removal of rations. Tav’s hands were scarred from forcing bolts unto screws until her fingers bled.

The conjoined bolt/screw arrangements were fed onto a belt, and transported to the Men’s section. The men’s job was simple enough. To unscrew the bolts from the screws and load them into boxes – one full of screws and one full of bolts. It was the perfect system, a closed cycle, where resources were neither wasted nor thrown away.

Two tables away from Tav, there was a sudden commotion as an older woman quietly, and without any fuss, slid to the floor. Tav did not know her name – friendships and interactions were actively discouraged – but she recalled this same woman had been coughing throughout the night at the far end of the dormitory from Tav’s own narrow cot. The woman slumped, pale and lifeless, her threaded screw on the floor an inch from her still fingers. Two Overseers briskly appeared, picking her up as though she were a sack of grain, and carried her away. She would not be seen again.

The other Workers simply closed the gap, like water rushing into a hole, and continued their work silently.

The lunchtime Klaxon sounded at 1pm, signalling another Nutritab and, this time, a reading from the Book. There were no pages in this Book, no ink. It was held on a tablet by Head Overseer, and pronounced from. Themes included the benevolence of the government, the folly of laziness, the danger of grandiose thinking, the perils of academia and the fruitlessness of religion. The only thing good about the 30 minute midday break, thought Tav, as she shifted uncomfortably on the edge of the ridged bench, was that one could sit down, even if it was more of a perch than a sit.

The afternoon followed the same pattern as the morning. Pick up a bolt. Pick up a screw. Thread them together. Place on the belt. Tav winced on reopening a cut on her palm while working on a particularly tight screw, but was careful not to lose pace or let an Overseer see she was bleeding. She wiped her hand down her overalls, and continued on.

Evening Klaxon sounded at 8pm, and the Workers downed tools and filed silently back into the canteen for the last Nutritab (TM) of the day. This time, one wall of the canteen was completely filled with a black screen. There were Purges daily – political criminals mostly, Deviants, academics and liberals. These were shown in the WorkFarms to instil gratitude in the Workers that they were spared from living in the world with these monsters. When the last Purgee had finished kicking and squirming, there was another short reading from the Book, and the Workers filed back to their cots. Tav stripped out of her overalls and dropped them into the chute at the bottom of the dormitory, took a clean one from the stacks, shrugged it on and climbed wearily into her cot.

The 6am Klaxon jolted Tav into a bleary, muddled wakefulness, yanking her from a dream in which she had been enjoying roast beef and yorkshire pudding.

And there it is. My first go at writing something that isn’t a song lyric in a long time. I’m hoping that it will help, as I have been churning out melodies and hooks like a machine but the lyrics have been eluding me. So this is my prose offensive!

See you next blog post!

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Ah, Monday again. And what a week it’s been, with the World Cup, manic preparations and the overbreeding of yellow bicycles in Yorkshire for the Tour de France, and Facebook being dragged over hot coals for their social experimentation.

Facebook. Once a seemingly endless, joyous carnival of promotional activities (ok, so you kind of had to squint sidelong a little to see it, but with some imagination you could see at least some potential). Now just a cold, bitter lie. Like the cake.

Two and a half years ago, when I started at Access to Music, we did a lot of talking about music marketing. It was agreed that Facebook had the makings of an excellent networking tool. But then the whole post-boosting thing happened. It turned out that it wasn’t enough for people to like your page and to declare that they actually wanted to see content from it. Nonono. If you wanted them to see actual content from your page, to guarantee that they might see it (that’s right, might, not would) you needed to “boost” the post. And this cost money. Initially, they tried it out on small clusters of pages. Now, it’s hit everyone with a page. The big businesses, who can afford the boosts, now clutter up everyone’s newsfeeds, while the small independent creatives, doing everything on a shoestring, fade into obscurity.

Now don’t get me wrong. I never thought of Facebook as the good guys. But I did hope against hope that they might at least help out the little guys in return for all the data and information they get from us, their product. I am apparently hopelessly naive.

Then, to cap it all off, we find out that Facebook, those “innocent” social network creators, have actually been playing us, using their opaque logarithms to control what we see in our newsfeeds. Our profiles have become as safe as our pages. Not safe at all.

This, for me, is the death knell for my use of Facebook, certainly. I will keep a profile. I have friends and family far flung across the globe, and being able to keep in touch with them so easily will keep my profile alive. For now. But if I can’t use my page to promote my music, because Facebook only show it to a certain number of people before demanding money for the people who have elected to see my content to have even a snowball’s chance in hell, and if I can’t use my profile because hey, I write sad songs sometimes, and that’s the day Facebook have decided the world should be HAPPY!!!!!!!!!!, then what is the point?

From now on, my website and my mailing list is the way I plan to proceed. I’m not going to stop using Facebook entirely, but for my fans, for the people who really want to follow the music news, the page is not cutting it. If I’m lucky, less than a quarter of the people who elected to receive updates get to see posts. On a bad day, it’s more like 10%, and that’s just not good enough. My wonderful other half and I are currently hashing out a way to put a streaming newsfeed directly onto the website so that I can update it in chunks, like Facebook, only I control the content (mine!), and I control who sees it (everyone!).

Meanwhile, if you want to guarantee that you see what I have coming up, please consider signing up to my mailing list. I promise not to spam you,  sell your details, harvest your information, take possession of your content, or try to influence your mood. I just want to be able to get my content out to my fans without Facebook filtering it.

Thanks for reading! See you next time!

 

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