Can artists stop worrying their digital works will get stolen?

As an artist, I have a love-hate relationship with technology. I love how my works, like the books I’ve written, can easily became digitized and distributed instantly all across the world, finding new readers. That’s awesome. But I want to puke when I discover that my works have been taken and distributed without compensation, or even credit, to me.

But it looks like some tech innovators might have the perfect antidote. Check out these posts on something called blockchain technology. I love how the first post uses the example of the famous GIF of Bowie’s faces, which by the way, was created by UK artist Helen Green, in case you never knew that 🙂

The GIF That Fell to Earth

Spotify acquires blockchain startup Mediachain to solve music’s attribution problem

Google Explores Concept Of Ownership Using Ethereum Blockchain

This isn’t why I read, but…

In the last couple of weeks, I’ve stumbled across some fascinating research into the benefits of reading. Not like anyone who reads really needs any more encouragement, but some pretty neat stuff happens to you when you spend time buried in books.

One article I read on the train home from work yesterday explained how reading fiction lowers your need for cognitive closure, which means you have a greater ability to accept and embrace ambiguity. That means you can make better decisions in stressful situations because you’ll be more thoughtful and patient, less panicky, and less inclined to grasp onto whatever you think will get the job done quickly. The article explores how the need for cognitive closure led to the ’93 Waco tragedy. It has some fascinating insights into what happened behind the scenes between a hostage negotiator and the FBI agent in charge.

Another positive side to a low need for cognitive closure is that you’re less likely to be transphobic.

A few days before reading the first article above, I found this piece about how reading fiction increases empathy. So there’s kind of this theme going on here—that reading fiction makes you a better person. Hmmmm. Makes me feel bad for people who don’t read fiction…but then, I guess reading fiction is the reason I feel this way.

And lastly, kids that grow up in a house with stacks of books lying around are more likely to be successful. Good news for my daughter that her daddy hates throwing out books. Not so good for my hoarding-phobic wife.


David Bowie: Sad Day

One of my first paintings – of my idol – when I was fifteen

On the way to work this morning I turned on the car radio, a station I sometimes tune into because it plays Bowie, and I was pleasantly surprised to catch the DJ talking about David Bowie. At first I thought Bowie was the topic because of his recent birthday last Friday, and then it hit me that they were talking about him for longer than a birthday tribute warrants, and then the use of the past tense made it clear what had happened. And then I wished I could turn the car around and drive back home.

Bowie was my favorite musical artist growing up – by a long shot. And he still is.

I remember when I first saw him. I believe I was around 11 years old. I was watching a music awards show on TV, and someone appeared on the screen, wearing something that looked like a space suit. He was singing a song that was like no other song I had ever heard – Space Oddity – with its haunting, layered melody. The camera zoomed in on the face of the singer, and I was mesmerized. His different colored eyes, his ethereal, otherworldly features. He looked like someone from another planet. I asked my older brother who this was – and got the answer: David Bowie.

I quickly began collecting his albums – all of them sounded different and I loved every one. The Ziggy album was one of the first. There was something about his voice on these songs that made me feel like he understood me, like I wasn’t alone in this world. His voice still hits me like that.

Unfortunately soon after my fascination with Bowie began, he disappeared from making music for a few years, eventually returning with Let’s Dance. Although I was less a fan of some of his music from this point onward, he would still make many songs that are among my favorites.

It’s hard for me to believe that he is gone from this world. I have spent a very large amount of my life listening to his music. Growing up would have been so much harder for me without Bowie.

Some of my favorite Bowie songs:

Sweet Thing from David Live (1974)

Lady Grinning Soul from Aladdin Sane (1973)

Life on Mars? from Hunky Dory (1972)  – but I especially love Bowie performing it in his recent years with Mike Garson at the piano – like he did below in 2005

If I’m Dreaming My Life from ‘Hours…’ (1999)

Slip Away from Heathen (2002)

Teenage Wildlife from Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps) 


The Writer’s Care Package

Quite excited about what arrived this week in the mail… I’m particularly interested in The Story Grid, by Shawn Coyne, which I first heard about while reading Steven Pressfield‘s weekly posts. If you’re not a writer you might know of Pressfield from various books such as The Legend of Bagger Vance. Matt Damon and Will Smith starred in the movie version. If you’re a writer, you might know of him from his weekly posts or other works like The War of Art.

In his posts, Pressfield often provides deep insights into how he works – that’s the stuff I love to read about, mostly because it makes me feel a little less lonely when struggling with what seem to be impossible-to-solve story challenges. A couple of standout posts for me were Files I Work With, Part 2 and Files I Work With, Part 3. It was in these that he mentioned the book by his longtime editor, Coyne.

If you’re a writer, I highly recommend signing up to receive his weekly posts, which you can do off Pressfield’s website. And if it’s still available, that box of books I ordered was The MegaBundle For Writers.

Now come on holidays, hurry up so I can find more time to read!