Nic Harcourt and Elvis Costello contemplate the last flick of the dinosaur's tail

Along with driving, hiking, and jogging, snow shoveling is an activity that benefits from time-shifted audio content. Here in New England we've had plenty of opportunities lately to indulge in that least favorite of winter sports. A couple of storms ago I had a chance to catch up with Kent Beck's excellent keynote at the Developer Testing Forum. Yesterday I wasn't planning to absorb ideas, just music. But my selection -- this week's Sounds Eclectic from KCRW's Nic Harcourt -- brought ideas to my headphones as well as Elvis Costello's hour-long studio performance.

This was a departure from the usual format. Normally the studio performances run only about twenty minutes, interrupted by a short interview with the band that, to be honest, I usually skip. But this week Harcourt and Costello let their hair down, talking at length and with complete candor about the new realities of the music business. "It's over, it's done," Costello says at one point. "We're seeing the last flicking of the dinosaur's tail."

The conversation wasn't just about the technology and culture of remixing. It wandered around a lot. Ironically and appropriately, remixing is what enables me to focus on that theme in the conversation and share it with you. Here's a Real playlist that splices five segments into a 4.5-minute collage. And here's an MP3 version of the same thing.

Let's take a look at that playlist file:

rtsp:// ... sc050123Elvis_Costello__The_.rm?start=24:26&end=24:35
rtsp:// ... sc050123Elvis_Costello__The_.rm?start=21:45&end=22:21
rtsp:// ... sc050123Elvis_Costello__The_.rm?start=30:14&end=31:46
rtsp:// ... sc050123Elvis_Costello__The_.rm?start=32:48&end=33:47
rtsp:// ... sc050123Elvis_Costello__The_.rm?start=40:37&end=41:51
It's just a list of URLs. The only tricky thing here -- and it certainly is an obstacle that needs to be overcome -- is the ease with which the ins and outs can be specified.

My shareable remixed version of the conversation is just another URL:

It's amazing that this is possible. It's even more amazing that, although a streaming server facilitates this kind of in-situ editing, you can do the same thing with static content. As more and more interviews and conference sessions produce online audio content, remixing will help us compress time and focus attention.

Former URL: