The Rabbit

Miike Snow
“The Rabbit”

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Happy Up Here

“Happy Up Here”

Yes, I realize this is about a year old. I had not seen the video until two days ago!

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Two Door Cinema Club

Two Door Cinema Club

Something Good Can Work for You

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The XX “Crystalised”

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DJ Mehdi

Dj Mehdi “Signatune”

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Passion Pit – Sleepyhead

Passion Pit “Sleepyhead”

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The End of Twitter – Why Facebook with Supersede Twitter’s Usefulness

I’ve been using Twitter for close to three years now. At first, I didn’t see it’s usefulness.  I’m frequently bored by what I’m doing, why would anyone else care to know I’m editing PowerPoints at the office or want to hear me complain about the bad television I’m watching?

But then usage of Twitter evolved. Adding hash tags to my thoughts gave my tweets context. I could see what other people thought of debates between Obama and McCain (#debate08), episodes of #Heroes became an interactive Mystery Science Theater 3000 as I tweeted my thoughts on what would happen next and laughed about some of the silly props with other viewers, and I came to enjoy the Tweetup at both concerts and networking events.

But the excitement and interest on the social web shifts like the desert sands. Things seem to be changing once again.  Facebook has over 200 million users and many of them update their status regularly. Although I cannot find stats on the volume of wallposts versus tweets , I would guess that Facebook users are more inclined to update their status than Twitter users because Facebook users (all 200 million of them) spend an average of 4 hours and 39 minutes on the site every month, and Twitter users (25 million) spend and average of five. And let’s not forget that Twitter has an 80 percent abandonment rate and that 10 percent of Twitter users create 90 percent of all tweets.

Now before you go on saying how I’m bashing Twitter – I’m not.  I think it’s great. I just think it is a niche network that is reaching its saturation point and that a more mainstream site, like Facebook, is going to take take microblogging to the next level.

What I see happening to Twitter

As advertisers, spammers and public figures hop on Twitter, the site becomes more about promoting oneself or one’s agenda. The site is less and less about conversation between individuals and more a channel for advertisers to hock their wares. I’m exaggerating a bit – it’s not traveling salesmen selling snake oil; it’s thought leaders and people with influence talking to the masses to try to convince others of their point. Even people providing entertainment aren’t likely doing it altruistically, but to gain some notoriety. So for all intents and purposes, Twitter is becoming a commercial channel to sell your brand (brand = ideas, yourself, tangible products, etc).

As more commercial Twitter feeds are launched (this includes all the types of accounts for self-promotion mentioned above), the less everyday folk will tweet – that is to say professional users will drown out amateur tweets.  This seems to happen in all mediums of communication. (I’d even argue that YouTube now has its own celebrities that people regularly follow, making the whole community less amateur and more commercial.) The radio didn’t originally have ads, nor did the Internet – but marketers will eventually take over and sully an otherwise pure channel. I’d say most people don’t want to be advertised to based on their TiVo habits.

And this is happening with Twitter. Most of my followers are vacant accounts with a baited link that will infect my computer with some nasty STD, internet cam whores, or marketers hoping I will follow them because they follow me (not going to happen). Why are these people following me? Because they all think they can get my attention in some manner.

And to some degree Twitter is encouraging this type of behavior. It’s going to launch commercial accounts in the near future that will put companies in touch with interested users. I doubt this very much. Unless I’m very interested in the product (at the moment I’m following @Diablo in hopes of learning more about the Diablo 3 video game. In the three days I’ve followed it, it’s been entirely worthless. @Marvel, however, does a wonderful job).

What’s going to happen next?

People are still going to use Twitter, but it will mostly be for real-time information gathering – like metro delays, traffic reports, sports scores and to follow their favorite celebrities. It’s going to be a message dissemination channel. Sure you’re always going to have your die-hard users – but it’s not going to gain any more traction with the plebs (I use this term in jest – I simply mean non-techies).

As Twitter becomes more like QVC, people will turn to other sites to post their status updates – the most likely candidate, by sheer user volume, is Facebook. And, as I posited above, people likely doing this now. And Facebook is going to make it easy for people to broadcast their status updates across all networks.

One recent, immediate step is the Facebook app that allows you to send you status update to Twitter. This is just the start.

With Facebook’s recent acquisition of Friendfeed, a site that collects all of your web activity into one feed as well as allows you the ability to post new content to several sites, it is trying to position itself as aggregate source for all social media activity across the net. This will content aggregation will likely be integrated into Facebook very soon.With new widgets, applications and other software, Facebook will be the one site you’ll log in to update all of your social network accounts – making Twitter entirely moot for 99% of its users.

And finally, I would guess that almost all Twitter users also have Facebook accounts. And when people eventually pull down some of the privacy walls they’ve built up on Facebook, we’ll see mircoblogging reinvented.

I’m giving Twitter three more years – then Facebook becomes the mircoblogging hub of the Internet.

So, what do you think?

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3 Years Later

Come August 1, I will have lived in my current DC apartment for three years. I can’t really complain about the experience. The building supers have been great, the building manager is accomodating (like when I went out of town for three weeks he tossed my mail under the door), and the neighbors are friendly and quiet.

But having lived here three years, I still get the previous tenant’s mail. We’re not talking about junk mail, I’m talking about hand-addressed letters.

I’ve taken it upon myself to inform the senders of these personal letters that the intended recipient of their message no longer lives at this address.  I cross out the address, write RTS (mail slang for Return to Sender), followed by, “Nancy hasn’t lived at this address, for three years. If you do not know this by now, you aren’t friends.”

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Internet Sharing and Community – Part II

Marx and Engels start the Communist Manifesto with a warning: the people in power are scared of the coming changes. This warning can be adapted for our times:

A spectre is haunting the Internet – the spectre of file sharing networks. All the powers of old media have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this spectre: the RIAA, the MPAA, the corporate lawyers and government police-spies of the FCC.

After reading Lessig’s book Remix, I realized the war waged on file sharing could be made into a Marxist argument.

Current intellectual property laws give rights to the copyright holders. In most cases, this is not the artist. For musicians that sign a contract with a record label, the record label retains exclusive rights to the artists’ songs. Over time, the length of a copyright has been increased dramatically. Originally, the rights to an idea, song or movie were held for 20 years. But now it has been increased to the life of the artist plus 99 years. Since the artist doesn’t own the rights to the songs, the record label stands to gain much from this arrangement.

After years of abuse, the musicians are fed-up with the poor treatment received at the hands of their tormentors. Music sales have also declined. The price of media has continued to rise, but there has been little reason for the cost hike. Online distribution eliminates the need for manufacturing and physical distribution, so it should reduce the cost to consumers.

Marx argues that when the working class rises up to fight the unfair and oppressive ruling class, it will then redistribute the wealth so that everyone shares ownership of property. After this revolution, anything created by an individual   can be used by anyone without having to ask permission. Comparing this to communism, the file sharing networks take property in the form of mp3s from the RIAA or ripped movies from the MPAA (the bourgeoisie in this instance) and redistributes it to the masses (the proletariat).  Most people do not view intangible electronic files as something that one can possess due to the lack of a physical presence.

It seems the time for revolution is now.

Artists such as Nine Inch Nails and, to a lesser extent, Radiohead, are releasing their music for free.  File sharing networks are most of the traffic on the Internet. The MPAA and RIAA are trying to put the kibosh on any extra curricular activity.

The Internet is the great equalizer Marx envisioned. With the Internet, any one individual has as much power as the next.  If the entire Internet community united against the media companies, nothing could be done to stop it.

So, do I feel sympathy for the record companies? Not really. I do feel bad for struggling artists. If I enjoy their music, I should support them in some fashion. If I don’t buy their albums, then I should at least make an attempt to see them live or purchase a t-shirt from their website. As one of my friends told me, “albums are loss leaders for tours.” The music is the advertising used to pull in more revenue.

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Internet Sharing and Community – part I

I’ve been ready Lessig’s Remix:Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy. In his book, Lessig mentions several open-source projects and how they are made better by the community. For example, volunteers improve Wikipedia entries on their own time without compensation (other than the satisfaction knowing they are helping others). A similar attitude can be found in the open-source software community; people update and improve lines of  code, usually to meet a specific need, but provide these enhancements for free to the entire community.

This type of sharing can be found on the Internet as a whole, especially with file sharing. Metcalfe’s Law suggests that the more people in a social network, the more value it has. With Bit torrent, the more people sharing the better the network. But there is also an element of comraderie. People sharing files do so because they want to help other people. It isn’t a giant “Fuck you” to the RIAA and MPAA (although it turned into that). No one dislikes the artists of the music or movies they are “distributing.” They are fans who want other fans to have the material.

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