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Talking Culture, Money, and Music: Anti-GEMA Protests


The view from somewhere near the stage, back over Boxhagener Platz

Yesterday, there was yet another anti-GEMA demonstration held at Boxhagener Platz in Friedrichshain, just in front of the bar/club Stereo 33. There have been an ongoing series of these demonstrations in Berlin since at least late spring, but this event was interesting for how it mixed music and talk, as well as themes of culture and money.

For those of you who haven’t been living in Germany over the past year and haven’t been bombarded with (more…)

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Another Post-Bar25 Update


The crowd at the “open door” day for the launch of the Holzmarkt/Mörchenpark project.

Recently, there’s been some more news on the Holzmarkt/Mörchenpark project. The city has changed its plans for the property that’s up for sale, and this might benefit the bid and development proposal put forward by the Holzmart/Mörchenpark team. In a recent article in the Berliner Zeitung (from which I’m getting most of my information for this update), the author Karin Schmidl summarizes the changes thusly: “No high-rises, no office-building monolith, no hotel blocks.” Whose development proposal was already free of all these things? That’s right: Holzmarkt.

As you might recall  (more…)

MusicBoard Berlin: Government Interventions in Berlin’s Music Scenes


Some tile-work inside the Abgeordnetenhaus, where the city’s senate meets and does business.

Musicboard is a cultural policy and funding initiative created by Berlin’s municipal government, with the stated goals of supporting the city’s music industry, presumably in a way similar to Berlin’s Medienboard for film and media industries. According to its official website, the project is supposed to “make Berlin more attractive as a site for popular music.”  Starting in 2013, the city of Berlin will make 1 Million Euros available towards supporting these goals, but the debates have already started about how this money will be distributed, what the role of Musicboard should be, who should be running it, and even whether the project will improve or worsen the conditions of music-making in Berlin. (more…)

Mörchenpark Update


A stencil advertising the Mörchenpark open-house day. Taken (with thanks) from the Mörchenpark Facebook page.

Mörchenpark (including the Holzmarkt project) continues to develop. Already there’s a Facebook page, which seems to date from before the actual open-house event last week, based on the posts and the photos. Thanks to the wonders of tagging, you can actually find a lot of images of the event by looking through “Photos of Mörchenpark” on the Photos page. But also, this morning the Kater Holzig mailing list got this Sondermitteilung (Special Announcement):

(more…)

Mörchenpark and Holzmarkt: In the Ruins of Bar25


The junk-mountain with a carrousel in the foreground.

Back in the fall of 2010, Bar25—that infamous den of excess, escape, hipsterdom, confetti, and exclusiveness—finally closed its doors. The space lay fallow through 2011 as the city (through the public sanitation company, Berliner Stadtreinigung or BSR) prepared sell off the property. Now, the premises are going on the auction block, and the former management team of Bar25 is raising money to buy it back.

But they won’t be rebuilding Bar25 anytime soon. (more…)

This One Is Full of Keywords: SEO, RSS Aggregators, Dissertation Writing Services


Happy Noodle Boy, by Jhonen Vasquez and Slave Labor Graphics

Happy Noodle Boy is not pleased with you. (by Jhonen Vasquez of Slave Labor Graphics)

SEO spam is a cancer on the internet, and those who engage in it shouldn’t be trusted. People who use RSS aggregators to scrape topical content and repost it verbatim for their SEO spamming purposes are just the worst sort of people. And don’t get me started on dissertation writing services. If you’re reading this on a website other than LMGMBlog, report the site to Google as SEO spam, close the window, and notify me at my Gmail address (theluisgarcia).

See what I did there? According to Internet Wisdom, websites such as the one that copied an entire blog article of mine yesterday use underhanded SEO (Search Engine Optimization) methods to game the search-engine system and give them high page rankings. If they manage to appear on the first page of Google results for a topic like “dissertation writing services,” for example, they’ll get tons of traffic to their page, which will drive up the numbers of “eyeballs” and “clickthroughs” on their ads, while perhaps also allowing them to sell some snake oil to the more gullible visitors.

To build content and generate incoming links to the site, the administrators of these sites often use programs that aggregate RSS feeds (from blogs, newspapers, etc) and scan them for particular keywords and/or other characteristics. When the desired conditions are met, this program “scrapes” the entire post from the RSS feed and reproduces on their own site. They’ll often include a link (hidden at the bottom of the page) which points to the original article. This will usually create a “pingback” or “trackback” on the original blog, which creates a link from the original source to the copied article on the new spam site. Now, they’ve got many pages, a lot of content, and a growing set of both outgoing and incoming links. All of these are things that Google’s search engine measures when it creates its page rankings, and thus this mostly useless and ad-smeared website crawls up to the top of Google’s search results.

So, all of my first paragraph is going to appear in the RSS summary of this article, with several keywords that will hopefully trigger RSS aggregators for “SEO”, “RSS Aggregators,” and “Dissertation Writing Services.” My hope is that, since many of them seem to have automated content-scraping, this’ll result in a post that undermines some of their own purposes.

In any case, I’ve adjusted my RSS feed to only post summaries instead of full articles, and I’ll be back to writing about my dissertation soon!

That Blog Be Yankin’: Plagiarism-y Developments Halt Dissertation Series


UPDATE: See comments for details. Short version: the offending page is down, it seems.

Hey folks, just to let you know that this “dissertation writing service” (Google Cache of the page)website has reposted the entirety of my last post in the series that I have been writing on my dissertation. This looks to be a form of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) spam, and it’s a problem for a number of reasons: 1) I was never contacted to ask permission (and I certainly wouldn’t have given any to this site); 2) it quotes the entirety of the original work, which is in violation of “fair use” (US IP law) and most other legal guidelines for acceptable use of intellectual property without permission; and 3) since it’s a “dissertation writing service“ website, the framing of this post (me writing about the preparation of my dissertation) in this context gives the impression that either I paid for their services to prepare my dissertation or I’m trying to sell my dissertation to them—either interpretation could harm my future career as an academic and could thus be a form of libel.

In any case, this means I’m going to be putting a halt to the dissertation-in-blog-post series, until I can figure out what to do about this. In the meanwhile, I’ll add occasional updates in the comments below; sometime later, I might write a whole blog post on this experience. If you have any expertise or advice to share about this sort of situation, you’re welcome to contact me through the comments below or by e-mail. Sorry for the interruption, folks!