Dj Hackday: Jan 14/15th 2017 in Manchester


Remixing a part of who we are - Doug Belshaw

In my last mega blog post about Futurefest, I talked about millennials thinking.

Millennials charactistics include

  • Multiple things going on
  • More likely to do things they are passionate about
  • Blur work and play and enjoy it

This very much applies to something I’ve been trying to get off the ground for a long time (5 years!).

DJ Hackday, is a hackday for not only for DJs but for remix culture.

Remix culture, sometimes read-write culture, is a society that allows and encourages derivative works by combining or editing existing materials to produce a new product. A remix culture would be, by default, permissive of efforts to improve upon, change, integrate, or otherwise remix the work of copyright holder

My personal thoughts are, DJ culture was new exciting and things were moving and changing all the time. We had vinyl, record players and mixers. But people were innovating and doing new things on top of that. Then the technology changed from spinning discs (Vinyl, CDs heck even Minidisc if you must) to Solid State/Digital. There was a lot of push back and there still is… But you can’t stop the future.

However we adopted the digital methods to do exactly the same thing. You can see this in the vast amount of digital dj tools, 2 decks and a mixer. Skeuomorphism hell! And it needs to die! Because a good 20 years after the first Mp3 dj software (virtual turntables by Carrot innovations). The interface, method and general approch is exactly the same.

2 decks and a mixer (kinda) – 1996
2 decks and a mixer with extras – 2016

That’s more than half my life time! That has to be some kind of a joke!

Ok under the hood things have changed but not far enough and wheres the distruptive changes? The DJ world still seems to be stressing out about auto BPM? Its happened get over it. For a whole culture built on innovation and creativity, it seems highly ironic?

5 years ago at Mozilla Festival I convince the lovely Michelle Thorne of this and I was able to run a prototype of DJ hackday during the festival. Out of it came a DJ first multitrack stem/format called 8trk.

But this was just scratching the surface of a much larger problem with DJ/Remix culture. I put together some slides which horrible to read back through as they are 5 years old, but its been super useful when talking to people and companies about what DJ hackday could be about. It was due an update and thankfully I can finally tick this off my list.

While talking to many people and companies over the years, some of got it and some have asked why isn’t it part of Music Hackday?

I have spoken to the Music hackday people about DJ hackday and made a very clear distinction between what they are doing and what I’m trying to to.

My estimations is the internet 1% rule applies here.

The 1% rule is a rule of thumb pertaining to participation in an internet community, stating that only 1% of the users of a website actively create new content, while the other 99% of the participants only lurk. Variants include the 1-9-90 rule (sometimes 90–9–1 principle or the 89:10:1 ratio), which states that in a collaborative website such as a wiki, 90% of the participants of a community only view content, 9% of the participants edit content, and 1% of the participants actively create new content.


In the case of DJ hackday; out of 100 people…

  • 90 will be consumer (lurkers/watchers)
  • 1% will be makers (creators)
  • 9% will be remixers (editors)

Music hackday cators for the 1% and of course moving remixers and consumers into makers. DJ hackday is moving consumers and makers into remixers. Its a very viable area with plenty of people doing interesting great things already. Everyone we have spoke over the last 5 years have gotten the concept and really want to see it become a real things now.

Myself and Simon have started a Lanyrd page to start building support and getting more people interest. Its also one of Mozilla Festival’s Fridge events, which is fantastic as it shows the progession from its small prototype to a full blown event and Mozilla are always a supporter of remix cultures.

Capitalising on the recent interest in the Get Down on Netflix, which sums up a bit of why DJ/Remix culture is important. I created some simple teaser posters. Expect a proper poster in near future but right now, its about getting the word out. And we’re really targetting those who never thought of themselves as DJs or participating in remix culture. People like you!

As the year counts down towards Winter, I’ll be looking for people to help and other companies to join the DJ Hack. We already have some great names (tbc) and starting to sort out venues for the night events. Of course we already have the MMU Shed for the main hack which is a great space for a hackday. The actual hack dates are Saturday 14th and Sunday 15th January, with a social event on the Friday 13th January and post hackday party on Sunday evening somewhere we can try out some of the hacks.

If you are interested in helping out on the day, know a great venue, like to support in some way, set a challenge or want to come help organise it. Get in touch…

Feel free to ping myself a tweet or drop a message via email, my contact form, comment, etc… I’m quite easy to get hold of.

Author: cubicgarden

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.

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