Category Archives: Tech

The near-miss of New MySpace

Screen Shot 2012-12-19 at 21.58.46New MySpace. Twelve months ago I would have snorted in derision at the mere mention of the idea; it seemed a little too ridiculous given the way Old MySpace had gone.

Over time though, with Facebook increasingly battling negative press around Pages, reach, privacy and a host of other problems, MySpace’s purchase and promised rejuvenation courtesy of Justin Timberlake and Specific Media actually started looking viable. Through the same period, a few friends of mine had been asking the same question: “Are we due a dedicated music social network?”. After all, Facebook has never been that well equipped for musicians (ever tried listening to music on an artists page of late?) and coupled with the aforementioned frustrations, it felt like a gap was opening that was ripe for the taking.

Enter MySpace. (Again.)

I was invited to preview the service in the summer. I have to say, based on the demo video I saw (the same one that has since been made public in the first round of PR), I was really impressed. New MySpace looked fantastic. There was a clear focus on design there, and conceptually it felt very much like it could indeed be the dedicated music social network that people had been pining for. Believe me, I was a naysayer previous to this meeting, but based on the video and my conversations with the team there, I was sold.

Having played around with the service for a while now, sadly now I’m not so sure.

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Latest Digital Music Trends podcast now up

I’ve guested on a few episodes of Andrea Leonelli‘s excellent Digital Music Trends podcast this year, and each time I find myself having great fun but also coming away with food for thought, based on things my fellow guests have said. This latest installment though was fantastic in that respect: Andrea, Eliot from Evolver.fm and Steve Knopper (fanboy note: I’m a HUGE fan of his book “Appetite For Self-Destruction” and recommend you all read it!) all posited some really interesting ideas and between us it felt like some great conversation was happening.

The podcast is available both on Soundcloud and YouTube, so if you can, park an hour of your time and take a listen/watch. Honestly, I came away buzzing with thoughts and ideas and I hope you will too.

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Google, Ingress and the genius of their big data collection

A couple of weeks ago, Google launched Ingress, a new augmented-reality game for Android devices. The idea of the game is that you explore local areas in a bid to find items. If I’m understanding it properly, its almost like an AR geocaching game of sorts.

Like a good many, I found myself initially reading this and thinking “Why would Google bother with what seems like a complete departure from their general market positioning and service offerings?” They’re not a games company after all. I’d missed something here though, and it took one keen-thinker over at Reddit of all places to spell it out – namely, how Google has become astonishingly good at creating services that get the public creating huge datasets for them; datasets which can then be developed into new, more relevant things that become part of Google’s bigger gameplan.

Don’t believe me? Then read this:

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Airplay, Bluetooth and how we’ll be listening to music in future

Since I switched to an iPhone a few years ago, I’ve bought a few iPod docks which are dotted about my house. This means that if I’m in the kitchen for example, I can just dock my phone and play music through the app of my choosing. Of late however, two of the three have broken, with the connector docks no longer working. Ironically both packed up at the same time, which happened to be when the iPhone 5 – with its new, smaller Lightning connector – was released.

The new connector was something of a dealbreaker for me. I now had two dock connectors that didn’t work, and hence was using the Aux input and a lead with both to play music. The notion of upgrading at some point to Apple’s latest proprietary connector was far from appealing – especially if they might prove as unreliable as my current hardware.

The docks themselves still work – and, I might add, sound great too. It is only the connector part that is broken; other than that they’re fine. So, rather than throw them out I looked for a means to still be able to use them, preferably wirelessly. So, I picked up a Logitech Bluetooth Receiver for the very reasonable sum of £23 and gave that a shot.

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A followup (and conclusion?) to the whole Facebook Promoted Posts saga

Since I last posted about Facebook and Promoted Posts, there’s been some very interesting discussions going on, not to mention some interesting articles and at least one notable development on Facebook’s side.

The first post that caught my eye was Erin Griffith’s piece on Pando: “Enough with the entitled whining — Facebook isn’t running an advertising charity“. This took quite a similar stance to my own piece, with a few choice quotes – this being one:

Facebook has do to this because it needs to make money and, more importantly, because it can only clog newsfeeds with a limited number of brand messages. Facebook has three constituencies right now. Users, shareholders, and advertisers. They exist in a sort of symbiotic recycle-reuse-reduce triangle: Facebook needs users to make advertisers happy, it needs advertisers (aka revenue) to make shareholders happy, and it needs shareholders in order to stay in business continue making the people Zuckerberg cares most about — the users — happy.

So Facebook must tread very delicately with each constituent. It can’t go overboard on ads to the point where it turns off users, and they move on to another social network. That’s what Myspace did, and look how well that worked out. And that is the specific reason Zuckerberg provided when asked about the latest Edgerank tweak: The feed’s quality is crucial in order to not turn off users, he said on Facebook’s second quarter earnings call.

Something that also came out of the whole discussion around Richard Metzger’s original post on this subject and my own response to that was that for content creators – ie people running websites relying on maybe 10+ posts per day – the challenge differed greatly to the likes of bands, where maybe one post per day is made at best. I stand by my point in my last article about the strategy for content creators being wrong, but where this got interested was when Sean Adams of Drowned In Sound started a discussion around the whole topic on his Facebook page. Now, if I were to pull every interesting comment on this thread I’d be reposting the entire thing, so all I can do is urge you to head over there and read it in full. A few of my peers contribute, and overall I’d say it was one of the most interesting discussions I’ve seen around this whole topic.

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