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A web of victims and preditors

Written by

Andrew Millar

Date

July 21, 2008

I’ll make a broad sweeping generalisation here. I’ll bet that schoolyard bullies have not changed their taunts since I was at school…. No, I’ll go even further…: since my father was at school.

I’ll bet they still attack their victims with cutting comments like ‘I have more friends than you’!”

Well, I’ve found there is a new schoolyard out there. A huge digital one called the Internet.

You see, with my venture back into the music world, I’ve been using the Internet for tabbed guitar music, guitars, advice and the most brilliant exchange of information by teachers to students.

Actually I have ended up with three teachers. One in Adelaide…, one in England,… and the adjunct Assistant Professor at the University of Southern California, Thornton School of Music: one Adam del Monte.

I was introduced to Adam through a series of shot videos posted on YouTube. Through them he describes the various forms of Flamenco and explains the different keys, signatures, ‘licks’ and timing of Solea, Tango and Buleria style Flamenco -… actually about 12 in total.

This was exactly what I was after so I followed him to a website called newlearningvision.com. Here were a collection of video Flamenco lessons from beginner to master class. And Adam seems very easy to learn from. Each video is well shot, his instructions are clear and precise. And I’m progressing slowly, thanks for asking.

But what I ventured into next was the scary bit….

I decided to find out more about del Monte, so I googled his name. And the first fact I was presented with was that Adam del Monte has over 1000 friends on Facebook! Now, I recall an article I read in New Scientist… I quote from Lee Siegel, a culture critic from The New Republic…:

“”Social network sites are creating new pressures. The number of ‘friends’ someone has is a prominent feature of their profile. If you have too many friends, you are a jerk, because you are showing off. If you don’t have enough, you’re a loser.””

He’s right. The traumas visited upon us in the school year have returned. Magnified.

There is a belief that these sites teach us to perform our privacy, so rather than just living and interacting with people we are asked to present a packaged, managed version of ourselves as the truth. And we are judged on this. Often harshly.

Most of the YouTube comments about Del Monte’s work are in Spanish. However there are a lot of ‘Ole’ everywhere so my guess is his music is appreciated.

My English guitar teacher on the other hand often receives a barrage of abuse for his work. Mike Herberts publishes short videos aimed at basic level guitar players. You can download one of his free videos, and in around 15 minutes, be playing a complete new song. Minimum skill, maximum result. He uses short cuts and works out alternate chords to avoid the big barre chords that beginners find so difficult. He admits it is simplistic stuff, but it is aimed at getting people through the early stages.

And boy, do the YouTube crowd get stuck into him at times.

Lee Siegel had a more severe problem. He was accused of being a paedophile at one stage. A brainless comment that his editor refused to remove. He struggles with the fact that the comment is out there on the Internet and one day when his son has grown, he will come across it.

In Siegel’s opinion, people on the internet are either victims or predators.”

I regard Adam del Monte as an acquaintance. At 1000 Friends, he’s a jerk by definition…. but hell, he plays brilliant guitar.

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