the listenerd

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Category: twitter

On duplication, recommendation and Cool Bands Made Uncool

Last week, an amusing, music-related meme popped up on Twitter. The nugget of the idea – “Cool Bands Made Uncool” – was to take a band name and add something to it to give it nerd flair. Fleetwood Mac becomes Fleetwood PC (many times over); Megadeth becomes Megabeth. You get the picture; it’s easy to get – and that’s sort of the point.

Below is a sampling of some of the Cool Bands Made Uncool that appeared on Favrd (plus a couple more):
-The Whom
-Memetallica
-50 Centrum
-Hug
-Sigur Ray
-Steppenwalrus
-REO Stationwagon
-Nine Inch Toenails
-Ham Radiohead
-Bacterial Culture Club

Although the meme seemed to have peaked sometime on Tuesday, new ideas continue to roll in. (I, for the record, made one very brief foray into the genre.)

The two things I find interesting about this and other mini-memes centers around the scalability of ideas and the potential to use this platform to figure out what one might want to think about next.

Viral ideas that are Gutenbait – tumblrs that seem almost as if they’re optimized to garner book deals – usually aren’t very deep. They’re easily graspable, one-trick ponies – to wit: This Is Why You’re Fat – that happen to scale well; in this case, in a specific direction beyond tumblr (and toward traditional publishing). Even smaller amusements, like twitter memes, also demonstrate a scalability of concept; one that’s become increasingly easy to watch play out from start to finish, and one that might also hold some significant potential beyond fleeting entertainment.

As one watches Cool Bands Made Uncool spread, it’s immediately apparent that duplication – purposeful and accidental – quickly piles up as the crowdsourcing around this type of little ideas surges. The Dead Kennedys take a thousand different zags off the same zig – The Alive Kennedys, The Remaining Kennedys, The Alive-And-Kicking Kennedys. REO Speedwagon becomes R.E.M. Speedwagon, REO Stationwagon (multiple times). The Who becomes The Whom to one person and then to a dozen more, replicating through creativity or mimickry, whichever.

One can watch the memes morph, as well. Instead of changing band names, smart asses take up different tacks. Cool bands made uncool? Try U2. Or simply “You like them.

Other twitterers stay on track, following the idea to places of delicious absurdity. Kernel Panic at the Disco. A Letter Writing Campaign Against the Machine. And my favorite; quirky, stupid and fantastic: Echo and the Furcon Attendees. From some dude from Portland. Whom I didn’t even follow. And probably won’t ever. And probably will never cross paths with again.

The thing that I’ve found compelling about twitter for the past couple years – the core of this post that I’ve barely even brushed up on (because I can’t yet adequately explain it) – is that the platform feels like the start of a recommendation engine for ideas. One can see it easiest in these little memes – where the action is sped up. Just as Last.fm can monitor one’s musical decisions and recommend “neighbors” whose tastes greatly overlap, twitter – though the tools are still dull at this point – can align users with their own “neighbors,” based purely on ideas.

There’s much more to say about this; so more to come. I guess.

Boring and local: Minneapolis and St. Paul Twitter users

Local: After very little deliberation, I’ve decided to embark on a HIGHLY UNSCIENTIFIC examination of the content quality of Twin Cities Twitter users. I’ve checked out the Twitterholic lists of Minneapolis users, the Twitter Grader things, The Deets‘ F/U formula and all the commentary around them, Minneapolis’ tag on WeFollow and poked around on LocalTweeps. All kinda interesting; some drier than others.

The bottom line is: a qualitative assessment seems in order. The usual caveats apply, of course – to a painfully boring degree.

“There’s no one way to use twitter.” (There are people out there, believe it or not, who believe in “retweeting.” WHAT THE EFFING EFF??)

“There’s no one way to describe twitter.”

“Taste is subjective.”

But REALLY. There is such a thing as smart and slacking, as interesting and boring, as funny and tired. And it seems the sheer volume of the former, the former and the former can overwhelm.

Additionally: I am normally nonplussed by “the local.” The oh-so-holy local. And that’s being charitable. If there’s one “next” frontier of the internet that’s been jammed down my throat like an entire canister of taste-free Saltines, it’s the nebulous and oh-so-effing-righteous idea of the “local” and its incredible power. I swear it’s a conspiracy to get me to read much more really boring shit than I want to, or else to feel guilty when I’m not reading it. Because I should be reading it. Because it’s local.

NONETHELESS: I get, of course, that there’s some inherent value baked into listening to and exchanging ideas with those who share your space and can share your experiences. And, in fact, I follow (and usually, frankly, work with) some Twin Citizens who are brilliant, witty, wise and worth giving some small portion of my media attention to. And hence this thing.

A few ground rules:
-I am operating under the assumption that there is such a thing as good.
-Anyone who mentions Ruby on Rails goes back to start and must work very hard to become interesting again.
-I don’t like James Lileks, but I’m trying to keep an open mind here. You never know.
-I find bacon, coffee and punk to be tired. Hobos are on the edge; tread lightly.
-My opinion should mean very little to anyone.

Anyway, if I find anyone who is any good, I’ll report the results.

I have created a Fake Sam Beam Twitter account

In an attempt to prepare myself for recording a highly comedic podcast with bearded singer-songwriter Sam Beam, of Iron and Wine, I have created a FakeSamBeam twitter account. It will consist mostly of crying. And singing. And open weeping.

Links for 9.14.07: Ringtone hate, Wal-mart hate, Prince hate, FotC LOLz + more

*Band of Horses licenses songs to Wal-Mart and Ford.

Ben Bridwell: “My personal stance is that once that music is recorded and released to the world then I don’t really care where it goes. “The Funeral” has been licensed to death (ha, wretch) at this point and if somebody wants to throw down some duckets for it, then feel free. It also beats the hell out of stealing batteries from Wal-Mart to sell them back for 8 bucks.” Also, what a BEARD on that dude.

*Both David Pogue and Daring Fireball continue the Apple ringtone (and ringtone in general) hate.

*Social, mobile music company Mercora has become Social.FM. [Crave]

*CubeVoice: Twitter for stuff that’s even more boring than the stuff you write on Twitter. [Mashable]

*Flight of the Conchords brings the LOLz to its advertising campaign.

*The Last.fm start-up story. The verdict: ff you’re a music company, hire a music-obsessed team. [GigaOm]

*Prince is suing YouTube.

*Eleven reasons why Manu Chao is global pop’s most important star. 1) My 7-month-old loves “Bongo Bong.” The other 10 are here. [Largehearted Boy]

*Queens of the Stone Age (clad in Christmas sweaters) will be appearing on an upcoming Anthony Bourdain special. Bourdain’s the speaker at a thing the day job has going next month. [Peefork]

Links for 9.13.07: VMA tweets, Amazon music store, the games biz explosion + more

*The Wall Street Journal ponders the question of if tech-limited sound quality is holding the music biz back. (No.)

*The new Amazon music download store is now apparently only waiting on Bezos. (Bezos: “Needs more orange!”) [Mashable]

*The $4B online games business is projected to triple over the next five years. [mediaeater]

*Shots Ring Out does a kick-ass analysis of MTV’s attempt to Twitter the VMAs. Yuuuaa! [notes]

*Attention: September 23 is Celebrate Bisexuality Day in Second Life. Insert quip here.

*A Honolulu orchestra will be performing the music from the television show Lost on September 22, one day before Second Life Celebrate Bisexuality Day. [Pop Candy]

*Craig Finn (who you may know from the Hold Steady) will be teaching Boston College students how to rock at a “Master Class” on September 25, just two days after Second Life Celebrate Bisexuality Day.

*Million Dollar Pubes – pay $200 for one hair’s-worth of lazer treatement (plus an ad on her page) for a young lady in need. Not very tasteful! [Shiny Shiny]

Words that go nowhere: observations (sans hyperlinks!)

*I messed with the design theme of this site, and did some crazy stuff with the feeds. I hope it all works out.
*Words that go nowhere is a brand-new content type for this blog. It will be used sparingly and be forgotten quickly. And it will, I promise you, NEVER INCLUDE A HYPERLINK.
*Ownership is the new DRM. The costs in time and hassle of buying, finding, managing and storing files will in the not too distant future make music ownership more of a pain in the ass than subscription payment models are.
*Due to a twittervention of sorts, I have seen the light when it comes to the optimal content for presence-casting, and will now only be transmitting my made-up words to the ethosphere via this medium. (P.S. Twittervention is a made-up word.)

Tech / tunes links 8.31.07 – Out like a ham

*NBC Universal is done with iTunes. The two parties couldn’t agree on packaging and pricing, among other things. NBC was the #1 seller of video via Apple’s store, but soon they’ll have Hulu. In other iNews, iTunes will start selling ringtones soon, and they have a big announcement slated for next week.
*Sony Connect, the company’s digital music store, bids adieu.
*The videogame industry will be twice the size of the music industry by 2011, says Ars Technica.
*Former Skid Row frontman Sebastian Bach will appear on MTV’s “Celebrity Rap Superstar,” which starts tonight. And which will be awesome.
*Bowie to Bowie: Bowie will NOT be in Doctor Who after all. Huh. Seems like the guy is trying to play it both ways.
*The L.A. Times shines a light on a bunch of “indie-rock actresses,” including Scarlett Johansson, Parker Posey, and Jena Malone (whose band is called Jena Malone and her Bloodstains). [Pop Candy]
*The new Nokia N81 music-playing phone has its own single and video. Cheeseball, but amusing. [SlashPhone]
*Twitter visualization: Explore (which may not even be rolling at the time you click) will enable more off-twitter interactions (I know that sounds foggy) and Twitter Blocks will apparently allow users to navigate the Twitterverse using an entirely different visual metaphor. [TechCrunch]

Tech / tunes links 8.25.07 – Nervous tension. Nervvvvvous tension.

*Chuck Klosterman does a Trapped in the Closet roundup for the Guardian. [via]
*Twitterment answers the question: What are we twittering? The app allows the curious and the bored to examine the subject matter trends of Twitter users. Looks like mentions of dogs and cats are about even in the mornings, but dogs start to pull away in the afternoons. Wheeeee!!!!!
*I hadn’t noticed Mashable Invites before, which allows Web 2.0 junkies to sign up, and stand in line to receive invites for 2.0 applications in beta (or sometimes alpha, I guess) mode.
*A long TechCrunch post on how to find DRM-free music online.
*Digital Audio Insider on using Last.fm as a tool to measure fan devotion. Includes a massive chart!!! [via]
*A Virtual World Radio Network launches in Second Life, and it sounds like they want to be the BBC of the metaverse everybody now loves to hate. [via]

Tech / tunes links 8.22.07 – Deeper in debt

*Some more info on the MTV-RealNetworks deal. $230M from MTV. And an analysis this morning by the NYTimes.
*Previously, I mused on whether many musicians were using twitter for marketing / relationships (Coulton does, but it was pretty much only comedians on twitter there for a while). Looks like they’ve begun. One, Alison Sudol, gets pimped in the most recent Twit newsblast. (I hope newsletter placement isn’t Twitter’s plan to make revenue.) That said, if Pownce gain enough users, it seems like that social network, with its filesharing capabilities, would be the more logical musician’s marketing choice.
*YouTube has started running ads. Called InVideo Ads, they show up over the bottom 20% of some videos, as they roll. Here’s what YouTube itself has to say about them. [via]
*Music makes kids happy! [via]
*Using Last.fm to sell books. A fictional detective from an Ian Rankin book lists his favorite tracks using Last.fm, as does the author. [via] I’m not sure if there are any Fakesters on Last.fm or not, but I love the idea of setting up a few playlists solely for the purpose of scrobbling a fictional character’s music.
*Sales for Mentos were up 20% last year, the biggest spike ever. Due to viral video. [via]
*The L.A. Times does a deep reading of the “Chocolate Rain” phenomenon. Their take: the song is about racism. But it’s funny. The article eventually led me to the YouTube’s Top 100 in the music section, which amazed me. An Avril Lavigne video leads the pack with 50M+ views, and the top 20 is littered with the likes of My Chemical Romance. For all the talk of ugc, it’s still the pros who get crazy exposure. Also, 50M views. Wow. That’s a lot of 14-year-old users.

Tech / tunes links 8.6.07 – Look, but don’t make your eyes strain

*Amazon leads a round of funding for Amie Street, a variable-price digital music distributor who, based on anecdotal evidence, sends out a LOT of e-mails. [via]
*The New York Times busts Daniel Lyons, a senior editor at Forbes (the magazine who said the iPhone sucks!) as Fake Steve Jobs, the author of The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs. He has a novel forthcoming, so he wasn’t too mad about getting caught.
*Nerdcore (rhyming on the subject of mathematics, calculators and Weird Al) takes the spotlight once again in the Times.
*The Guardian reports on Daring Fireball‘s pithy translations of PRspeak, pro-Appleness. Water wet.
*Entertainment Weekly‘s take on the top 25 love songs. Sam Cooke, Beach Boys, the hated U2, Elvis and Guns ‘N’ Roses all make the list. No BEP’s “My Humps”?
*Have worked with (and am friends with on Twitter) this dude. I was a little too weirded out to follow the tweets closely when his wife was in labor, though…
*Recommendation engine goodness: An analysis of progress toward the Netflix $1M prize.
*Rock is dead again. This time it’s being killed by people over 30 taking their kids to concerts. Couldn’t that just be an indication that audiences are getting so young they need chaperones – who push strollers?

Social media companies’ workspaces

Office Snapshots offers inside looks at all sorts of Web 2.0 offices, including Joost, Digg, Craigslist, Mozilla, and Twitter.

Also, if you want to take a look around the offices of:
*Bebo
*Last.fm
*Pandora
*Facebook (mostly just some murals)

Tech / Tunes links 8.1.07 – In like a lion

*AC/DC hates Apple, signs with Verizon. Eminem hates Apple, sues them. iTweet loves Apple, launches twitter app for iPhone. I love Apple, so I pass on this rumor: new Nano next week. (Yes, it’s a day of dichotomies. Checks and balances. You know.)
*UK celly users download as many handset games as they do ringtones, music tracks and videos combined. (Really, ringtones, too?) [via]
Top downloads for users of Orange:
Videos: The Simpsons trailer
Music: Snow Patrol’s “Chasing Cars”
Games: Sonic the Hedgehog, part one
Pic/wallpaper: WWE Girls…

*Somebody on Mahalo put together a big thing about how to download music for free online. Mashable pitches in a “download everything” post. All with the caveat “don’t steal!,” of course.
*According to the Village Voice, Dancepunk 2.0 is the new Hair Metal 2.0. And even though I often write about Music 2.0 stuff, have I mentioned how much I don’t like 2.0s?
*VIP Band Manager is trying to rope in 50,000 people to manage a band. Taking the American Idol concept one step further, managers who sign on will be able to pick the members of the band, etc. – making all decisions via a little process we call democracy. I have signed up, and will be advocating with great vigor for forging a band in the image of the Black Eyed Peas. [via]
*Musick in the Head notes that Facebook has recently gotten skittish about potentially copyright-infringing MP3s floating around.

Working on the night shift: S’more links (some not that musical)

*Twitter has taken venture capital funding from Union Square Ventures (the same peoples who invested in del.icio.us back in the day). And they don’t know the business model yet! (I’m sort of a big twitter fan, much to the chagrin of 99% of the people I know.) [via]
*The Hold Steady is crowdsourcing the cover art for its latest single, asking for photo booth pics of fans. [via] Also, Craig Finn will be playing FOR FREE at some broke-ass New York Barnes & Nobles [sic!] on September 13th. [via]
*My bitterness: I was totally excited about a service called AllPeers when TechCrunch covered them a verrrrrry long time ago. (Their promise was that they’d make it super-easy to create trusted networks of people within which it would be super-easy to share files. Like music files! That you own the copyright to. Yeah.) Then AP did a super-slow rollout with a bunch of bogus announcements, dragging things out, and eventually turning me off completely. The Long Alpha – it was excruciating. Mashable says they’re all Torrented up now, but it would take a miracle for me to even try it again at this point.
*Yahoo! Music launched a bunch of video-ish stuff, including the ability to compile video playlists. I don’t know anyone who compiles video playlists.

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