Discussion Questions #7

Discussion #7

Episode 5

1. At the beginning of this episode, Krukowski asserts, “the marginal-the rejected-the repressed-is whatever the powerful have decided is of no use at the moment.” What does he mean by this statement? He goes on to ask, “But might it [the marginal-the rejected-the repressed] not be a key to alternate approaches-to art, to society-to power itself?” (“Marginalized” is an adjective that describes a person, group, or concept that is treated as insignificant or peripheral.)

At the beginning of this episode, Krukowski asserts, “the marginal – the rejected-the repressed is whatever the powerful have decided is of no use at the moment.” He is telling us that the powerful ones, the music that are trending, suppresses those that are not trending on digital platforms. Since people are only exposed to songs that are trending, unless and until we look for a particular song, we don’t come across a variety of songs. Also, with the algorithm created by the digital music companies we only get exposed to the kind of songs we tend to listen to. In this process, all other music is marginalized, rejected and repressed inadvertently for the consumers. He goes on to ask, “But might it not be the key to alternate approaches to art, to society, to power itself?  Krukowski is suggesting that if listeners are exposed to these marginalized and repressed group of music as much as the powerful ones, it can generate an element of surprise in the listeners and our musical experience will be diversified eventually.

2.How are the music listening experiences enabled by Forced Exposure different from those that Paul Lamere is working on with platforms like Spotify?

The music experiences enabled by Forced Exposure is different from those that Paul Lamere is working on with platforms like Spotify because Forced Exposure doesn’t create an algorithm like Spotify does. It exposes us to all different kinds of music and enables us to explore them. With Forced exposure, there is a chance that we can bump into a kind of music that we never thought we would like, but Spotify only allows us to listen to the kind of music that we like. Krukowski asserts, “Online, it is becoming more and more difficult to escape the influence of those corporations and their algorithms that shape the subset of information we each see. They’re replacing the freedom and chaos of the internet at large with the control and predictability of their programs, but subverting that system is easy offline.” Music is catered to our own liking and if choices are not made consciously, we end up listening to the same kind of music over time.

3. What distinctions does Krukowski draw between being “surprised” by music and “discovering” music? What are the differences between these experiences and according to Krukowski, why are they important?

Krukowski says, “Surprise is not the same as discovery to a huge digital corporation eager to change every one of us and as much of our time as possible with their product”. He compares it with Google and Facebook, how they provide us with the answer we are looking for. We don’t like it when they provide us unrelated and surprising answers to our searches. Similarly, recommendations on Spotify are designed to our liking which doesn’t surprise us, and we keep listening to them. However, discovering music is a totally different experience. It is coming across a different kind of music we have not heard before and then end up liking it. Krukowski shares his own experience of discovering the first ghost album through Forced Exposure. He liked it so much that he and his wife collaborated with them. 

Episode 6 

1. According to Krukowski, what is noise? What is signal? Why are these distinctions important?

According to Krukowski, noise is something that we are not paying attention to when we are trying to listen. Signal is the voice we are paying attention to and that we want to listen to. These distinctions are important because until we decide the distinction between signal and noise, we won’t know what we are listening to.

2. What central idea about noise does this episode convey? Why is it significant?

The central idea about this episode is that noise is a part of sound and that noise and signal is relative. Noise is not literally a noise. It is beautifully used in the recordings of the analog days. In today’s digital generation, noise can be eliminated during recordings, but it is not more than a noise when it is played loudly. It is significant because if we reduce noise, we are eliminating the choice as well. According to Krukowski, “When you choose as a listener to focus on what is buried deep in the layers of a recording, instead of what has been placed up front to catch your attention. You have changed what is signal and what is noise”.

3. How does this episode relate to other episodes? 

This episode relates to other episodes in a way how all other episodes distinguish between signal and noise. Digital time is considered the signal in episode 1 because it gains our attention and it is similar to the signal we pay attention to when we listen to something. Similarly, urban noise is allowed to control with the signal you want to pay attention in the concert halls. We learnt that musical quality of voice was missing when cellphones were invented, but it did not affect the transmission of the words. So, we can say that missing quality of voice is considered noise because they did not pay attention to it. Likewise, when internet music sharing entered the market, people did not buy cds or cassettes. The market got rid of the physical forms of music like a noise, they only wanted to listen to the signal – the song. Also, the online music platform encouraged the marginalization of music that is not powerful or trending like the noise we don’t pay attention to.