Categories
photography

Spouting music into The Void

This tweet by Ron S. of Anode Records encapsulates well how it often feels to share your music online. For me it’s borderline embarrassing to announce to the world your own creative work. And the way it goes is that you build it up… and spend days (sometimes weeks) fussing over details and over-listening until you have pretty much no idea if it’s any good or not any more.

So after all that, and even though you primarily make music for your own enjoyment, it would seem a shame to just leave it on your own hard drive forever, never to be heard by anyone else. And if you’re me (which I am) then you know full well that it’s amateur dad-techno which probably has niche appeal to a handful of your also-40+ cohorts. But… well maybe those people would like to hear it. It would be great to get a bit of feedback too. Is it any good? Do you like some bits? Does this have any merit at all? So you send it privately to ten or so friends and family. Be honest, tell me if it sucks. Anything!

But you don’t hear back for a few days so whatever… out goes the Tweet and a Facebook post. May as well throw it out there.

But then still nothing. No interactions or responses. Awkward.

So you then worry that everyone thinks it’s so terrible that they don’t know what to say. So you look at the stats and, no, that seems not to be the case because because, well, twitter gives you tweet analytics:

  • Impressions: 179
  • Likes: 1 (thanks bro)
  • Retweets: 1 (my other account)
  • Link clicks: 1

And Facebook:

  • 3 people reached
  • 0 engagements

So one person clicked through and listened to the track on SoundCloud. In 36 hours. The tweet is now well buried.

The reality seems to be that it’s pretty difficult to get people to hear what you’ve recorded. Is nobody interested in this sort of music any more? Or are they just busy? (probably this) Is it because there’s a zillion hours of free music uploaded every minute? Or is it the algorithm making it essentially hidden? (could be) Is social media just a bad way of sharing music unless you’re Calvin Harris with 12.6M followers?

If the problem was just that the music is crap I would expect a lot of clicks but no likes. But there are near zero clicks. Nobody is hearing it to begin with.

This, in part, led me to giving up for 18 months. What’s the point? But then I missed doing it and got quite low because I wasn’t doing anything creative in my life (work is mostly technical these days).

So it’s 2020 and I’m starting up again. And it’s not at the standard I would like yet. So the answer is to make more and more stuff. But then to be more selective. Fail lots and get better. I’ll continue to share it because why not. But like Ron, above, I won’t expect any of these tweets to blow up anytime soon.

p.s. Ron S’s Planet Z tracks are pretty great. And thanks to anyone who did spare a few minutes to listen to my new tracks (thanks Tom, Ben + Daniel!) And thanks Dad for buying a copy on Bandcamp 🙂

Categories
tech web

The trouble with Twitter

The Problem with Facebook is well explained in this video by science communicator Derek Muller. Basically they algorithmically filter your news feed in such a way that you probably won’t see most of what your friends post. This is contrary to what users expect to happen, but they are none the wiser because they don’t know about what they don’t see.

Of course it’s all about this button, the heart of Facebook’s business model:

boost_post

Once you give them cash they’ll show your post to all your friends / followers and of course a load of other people who don’t know you too. Fine: they have to make money. I just happen to hate it because it feels dishonest to actively hide things like that.

Facebook would argue that they’re trying to make my new feed “relevant” and “manageable”, something which Twitter does not do.

I’ve always greatly preferred Twitter’s follow model to Facebook’s friend model because I’m not socially obliged to follow my friends and family. I might be related to you but I’m not necessarily interested in your town’s local politics, or whatever. On Twitter it is left up to me to curate my feed by following the accounts I find interesting.

However, it’s changed. I joined Twitter early when it felt like a close-knit little network. For ages I followed about 40 people, most of whom I knew personally (early adopter web industry-types) plus a handful of other interesting people. Posting a Tweet was like putting something up on the village noticeboard. Most if not all of your followers would see it. And I would see all of my followers’ posts; in fact at first I received an SMS message whenever one of them tweeted. My feed was a mix of industry stuff and <= 140 character witticisms.However—grumble grumble—Stephen Fry joined and got stuck in a lift then it went mainstream. Soon those 'brand' things got in on the action and it became a marketing and news platform, all about driving clicks to websites.This has driven real human users away. I'd say 80% of the people I used to connect with on Twitter no longer use it. Or if they do they're completely silent and passive. "Last tweet: July".The trouble is that now when I post a tweet it feels like I'm standing at Oxford Circus during the morning rush hour. And most of the people surrounding me in the crowd are announcing things through megaphones. If I'm lucky perhaps I'll glimpse a familiar face but – to continue the urbanisation analogy – most of my friends don't come this way any more because they find it unpleasantly busy and they've moved out to the country.Evidence of this data overload symptom is the regular appearance now of ICYMI tweets. Often re-posting something a few hours later I’ll get a number of people commenting on it that I would have hoped to have seen it the first time but it’s now a mile down their timeline.

Solutions do exist: Using Twitter lists or TweetDeck, and the act of curating your following list by unfollowing non-human accounts. Sadly what’s left when you take away the noise is a bit of a ghost town.

For me Twitter was most interesting as a system for connecting human minds in real-time, not unlike Conjoiner technology in Alastair Reynolds’ fictional universe. That was genuinely exciting. Sadly, real-time is only usable up to a certain tweets-per-hour threshold. I don’t want to be connected in real-time to machines.

Here are two hypothetical experiments (that of course would be completely at odds with Twitter’s business model) that would make it very different but to me more interesting:

  1. Limiting the number of people you anyone can follow to 100
  2. Not allowing any links or media in tweets*.

A third experiment would be the option of following things that ONLY appear in a list and / or making a list your default timeline view, which would have the same effect.

But maybe it’s too late for all that. Or maybe I’m just being a sentimental Old Web guy.

*Yes, I tweeted a link to this blog post.