The ‘Stuff I Care About’

As I’m sitting here with my morning coffee I am perusing the latest news, but not the kind you get on a massive wad of thin recycled paper, I mean the digital kind. For some reason I know more about the world and this includes the politics, obituaries, film releases and social updates that I never cared to know about in such detail before. But how is this different to a traditional newspaper?

Before getting Pulse News app on my iPad, I really despised the news. I hated the horrible way that people I knew would say ‘oh I really must watch the news’ and ‘i need to know what’s going on’ and ‘why don’t you read the newspaper, you ignorant &£@!?*. Yes, I am constantly surrounded by people who are convinced that reading a newspaper, and i’m talking about obnoxious class-A Broadsheet morons, is a necessity.

It’s not.

Or perhaps that’s a little too harsh. True, complete ignorance can end you up in trouble if you miss the announcement that your country is going to war, or that hurricane Tom, Dick and Windy is coming your way. But why assume that someone who isn’t reading this or that ‘Times’ knows less about the world than you?

Because a collectively understood ‘Stuff You Should Care About’ makes people feel comforted. No one likes to feel guilty about the world tragedies that they’re doing nothing to fix, so why not read about it? Why not brag to your friends that you’re also ‘in the know’ about what the news told you to care about today? Well, if you can humbly admit to yourself that maybe some or any of this applies to you, you needn’t feel guilty about it any longer because a solution is finally showing itself, and it’s called social news.

Through the magical idea of subscription to specific people, topics, trends and articles, we can finally be rid of the moaning culture that permeates our little British Island. Sure i’m still subscribed to the rss feeds of the BBC and the Guardian, protectors of the content that people would love access to, but alongside their feeds I have technology updates, web feeds for Anime and Japanese pop culture, updates from blogs by graphic artists that I can learn from. And now with the Flipboard app, i’m embedding twitter feeds and Facebook updates too. Someone I hardly know shared a link to a small web article which I found inspiring for my own work. He’s not my ‘friend’ in that I’ve actually never met him, but through my sister I’ve spoken to him once and can now read the stories he suggests to his own friends.

But the main motivation for blogging this is the the troubling and fascinating phrase used to advertise the Flipboard app, ‘Stuff I Care About’. To be fair, I suspect that most people, especially serial news readers, don’t even know what they care about. When they’re first presented with the idea it is not only bewildering but probably quite terrifying! Indeed, that’s why I still have the BBC news feed in my Pulse News app. But this phrase also completely exposes us for what we’ve become in the information age. Content hogs, and dangerously of the self-centred kind. Watch, as we individually become more and more like those insular geniuses that think only about topics which matter to them and in so doing simultaneously become both masters of their chosen art and oddities within the society that surround them.

It’s that age old problem that, especially in England, we confuse ‘moaning’ for ‘complaining’. Many, it would seem in my experience, prefer to read concert listings that never show the pieces they’re interested in and complain that ‘nobody cares about contemporary music’ rather than to join the various Facebook groups set up for monthly gigs such a Gabriel Prokofiev’s Non-Classical label and the Kammer Klang series at London’s Cafe Oto. Would we rather read what someone else tells us to, and then moan about it? Or would our lives be any better if we got up and did something about it? I’d say that if you found yourself frustrated by a lack of alternatives for news that today we suddenly have too much choice! Where will I see footage of the earthquake first? BBC news 24 or from a camera phone picture posted on twitter and retweeted thousands of times before the news team has even heard about it?

I conclude by posing the question, are you reading only the stuff you care about? And if so, do you even know what that is? The future of news as selective tragedy-as-entertainment may be coming to an end and in it’s place, wider access to pure, unabridged statistics. But is a society that thinks for itself, and worryingly about itself, something we are ready for? Perhaps you are, and perhaps you aren’t, but more importantly, is this subject really even the stuff you care about?



Macbook Pro auto graphic switching issues!

First of all… apparently this blog will continue to live as a more informal counterpart to and because I need a place to post these less music related-stories.


But this article is more for people with Macbook Pro laptops that are suffering from nvidia always-on-itis.  This is the terrible condition where your “up to 8-9 hours” battery life proves to be absolutely nowhere near true despite being a brand new laptop!

Most people won’t suffer from this problem but my new Apple laptop was regularly performing under-whelmingly in the battery department and I discovered that this is due to the auto-graphics switching not functioning correctly.  Or rather, it functions correctly, but I have a driver on my machine that allows me to use my canon scanner (a Canon n124u) and I only discovered what it was by using Cody’s gFx manager which he gives away for free/donation.

As you can see, the offending application calls itself ‘LaunchCFMApp’ and I think it has something to do with OS X using ‘Rosetta’ to run old PPC applications.

Just ‘Quit Process on that nasty PowerPC app and huzzah!  Macbook Pro will switch the nVidia card off!

I hope that helps to save at least one poor soul out there who doesn’t fancy wasting hours figuring out why their shiny Macbook Pro’s battery sucks for no reason.


This Blog is being superceded

Did i spell superceded correctly?

Anyhow, is sadly coming to an end but only because a better one is now available!  Huzzah!

Direct your chosen phone/browser/spiderbot/embedded-in-sirikata-chrome-window over to

and you may just find something interesting…

RCM Laptop Orchestra

This year is my 2nd and final year of the MMus in Composition & Composition for Screen at the Royal College of Music.  I’ve recently set up a group for the purposes of teaching and encouraging improvisation through experimentation and interactive graphic scores for performance on Laptop.  The RCM Laptop Orchestra has now had two meetings, 1 rehearsal and is off to a great start!  Keep up with our progress here at


Silent Disco – For Ossian Ensemble

What is it that I find so satisfying about scores that have disappearing staves?  Admittedly i never write scores like this, but on this occasion i’m going to make an exception.  In true Christopher Chong style, this score has absolutely nothing to do with the piece in that it merely shows the performers a notated example of what to expect sonically…

Clip of Silent Disco

Clip of Silent Disco

The piece actually features most of the musical instructions being transmitted through headphones attached to an iPod touch receiving audio wirelessly using Max/MSP and aka.speech, and Airfoil.  The piece form part of a suite comprising a sort of twisted carnival of the animals.  Unsurprisingly, i’ve been given the ‘lab rat’, hehe.  Expect shouting, screaming and plenty of other LOUD NOISES.

The Ossian Ensemble

The Ossian Ensemble

Gig is July 8th, 2009 at the Royal College of Music. The Ossian ensemble is currently resident at the RCM as Junior Fellows.  For more details check out the news posts at

Sirikata – Virtual world ‘swallows the web’

At first i thought it seems a bit pointless to go into a virtual world only to confront another web browser…but after i heard the idea of Sirikata ‘swallowing’ the web it all started to make more sense.  Key features of sirikata, according to Pauline Oliveros who introduced me to it, include migration of existing virtual spaces and now it appears to include pretty much the whole www.

une bonne idee n’est-ce pas? Check this link out…

And this awesome video! –

Second Life Update!

First of all

Apologies!!!  I have neglected updates to my blog recently as I’ve moved house back to London, currently living quite close to South Kensington where I study composition with Howard Davidson and David Burnand at the Royal College of Music, London.

Secondly! – SECOND LIFE

Expect activity regarding the use of Second Life for Music/Theatre performance in the next few months as from May 8th-15th I will be working with Franziska Schroeder and Pauline Oliveros in a project exploring virtual world improvisatory performance.  I will be there as a Second Life specialist providing platform-specific support to help run the session.  I expect also to be making videos and photos from the session.

For more information regarding the project ‘Improvisation for Two Crowds’, see

More to come…