Twitter’s music app is beautiful, in that now-tiresome way apps from VC-backed companies are required to be, sacrificing utility for aesthetics and looking dated as soon as it hits your neighborhood app store. That’s fine, they’ve got plenty of designers to restyle it every 18 months.
Mechanically, it works quite well, exactly what you’d expect a music app on an iPhone today to be, down to properly responding to the standard library of earbud remote shortcuts. As of 1.0.3, it’s plenty stable, less buggy than you might expect given the general unreliableness of networks and streaming media. Linking an Rdio or Spotify account is seamless, and a clever runaround of what would surely be a thorny negotiation with the music biz, to boot.
The Popular pane is useless to anyone over the age of 17. Emerging seems to simply be the inverse of Popular and is therefore equally hopeless. Swipe over to Suggested and we’re finally getting somewhere, save for the fact that the secret sauce of what makes an artist “suggested” is completely opaque. I have no idea1 what I should do to improve the algorithmic guidance or what the fuck @beth_orton is doing in there.
Tellingly, you can’t get to a musician’s tweets from within the app to decide whether you want to follow them based on the content of their stream, you’re just supposed to follow all of your favorite musicians and be in awe of their celebrity, I guess.
The #NowPlaying pane gets to the heart of what’s really wrong with the app and, may I suggest, Twitter circa 2013. In order for this 25% of the app to be useful, the people I trust and follow must also auto-tweet what they’re listening to, complete with hashtag detritus (or trolls). Perhaps I’m just too far past what Twitter considers cool, but a stream littered with #NowPlaying refuse (or Vines or Foursqure check-ins, for that matter) is a sign that I need to spend some quality time with the unfollow button. Twitter has built an app that requires users to abuse their timelines and followers with machine tags without any meaningful way of tuning out that noise.
Worse still, a recommendations engine built on top of who I follow on Twitter is not solving the problem of introducing me to new music, it’s reminding me how many of my friends have terrible taste (relative to my obviously awesome library, natch). Context matters, it’s why the intersection of my sets of Rdio and Twitter friends is actually pretty small and that’s ok. Again, maybe it matters to tweens that your best friends are also totally into @OneDirection or whatever but that’s no way for anyone past puberty to live.
Sadly, the music app also says plenty about where Twitter is going. They long ago gave up any pretense of subverting the mainstream, cozying up to the likes of MTV and NBC, and are now fully focused on being yet another megaphone for the world’s already over-exposed. Let us welcome our new new media overlords, same as the old overlords, it seems.
You can see how this plays out: more hashtagged “verticals” for #tv #movies #celebrities #gossip #news2 #food #etc, more courting verified b-list celebs, further metastasizing our streams. If you were wondering how Twitter was planning on paying back the more than $1 billion in venture capital they’ve stacked up, while also minting another generation of Silicon Valley [b|m]illionaires, here’s a clue.
Of course, it’s their prerogative3 to be an adjunct to and tool of the mainstream media. Let’s just not confuse the story of what Twitter is today with something that continues to be interesting.
It seems like the suggestions algorithm is keyed to the musicians you follow on Twitter, since that’s pretty much the only meaningful metric Twitter has bothered to tap into. I only follow two musicians: Aimee Mann, because I think she’s hilarious and she likes my polititweets; and John Roderick, a pal from Seattle who for some dumb reason doesn’t merit the proper “musician” badge. ↩
The events of last week and how poorly they were covered on Twitter (and the tired old dogs like CNN being wagged by Twitter’s tail) should disabuse anyone of the notion that a Twitter news app is anything resembling a good idea. ↩
There’s a temptation when tragedy hits–especially violent tragedy–to use it to prove a worldview right as people take to Twitter to transform dead and mangled bodies into scaffolding under a preexisting belief. It’s execrable. Whether it’s a rush to assign blame, a speculation regarding motive, or an I-told-you-so matters little. That kind of stuff can play badly enough in a next day op-ed, but in an unedited 140 character tweet issued shortly after some terrible thing has just gone down, it’s pure poison.Mat Honan makes a strong case for how the best response to a tragedy, on Twitter or elsewhere, is to shut up.
Just like the major Schedule A deductions, most of the thousands of other tweaks to the tax code reflect the influence of special interests—whether they be rich people, the Metropolitan Museum, or the National Association of Homebuilders—rather than rational economic or social policymaking. And it has created one other group that benefits from a miserable tax day—the army of attorneys, tax preparers, and tax software creators who hunt for deductions and exemptions on our behalf. These people create a strong lobby against efforts to simplify the tax code and the tax filing system—including the idea of the IRS preparing a draft return that you could simply accept or amend as necessary.A rather compelling case against tax deductions. Don’t forget, the reason taxes are so unnecessarily complicated is because Grover Norquist and Intuit spend millions of dollars lobbying to keep it that way.
Remove all the deductions and exemptions, and you’d be able to reduce top tax rates, reverse the impact of the sequester, or draw down the deficit—all at once. You’d also considerably reduce the angst of tax day for millions of Americans and even allow for a downsizing of the IRS and the tax industry itself. On April 15, surely that should be an idea with immense political appeal.
Overall, the reaction to political events on Twitter reflects a combination of the unique profile of active Twitter users and the extent to which events engage different communities and draw the comments of active users. While this provides an interesting look into how communities of interest respond to different circumstances, it does not reliably correlate with the overall reaction of adults nationwide.Pew says reaction to events on Twitter is doesn’t necessarily jibe with broad public opinion.
Let’s get some perspective here: Summly wasn’t reading Ulysses by James Joyce and extracting the fact that the three-masted ship Leopold Bloom sees on the horizon is a metaphor for the Holy Trinity and therefore represents the Catholic Church. It wasn’t reading a 12 page article in Harper’s and extracting the cleverest puns and pop culture send-offs lovingly embedded by a writer who is good at his craft and earning below his potential. And it wasn’t taking my blog posts and somehow conveying the nuanced ennui I harbor for bolt-on engineering.
It was summarizing news. Articles that are already written with a TL;DR in the first paragraph.
E. Gün Sirer on one of several things that are actually wrong with Yahoo’s purchase of Summly.
Don’t miss the wonderful mini-rant on TL;DR culture.
Allyson Bird’s poignant and pointed story on why she left her job at a newspaper.
I can’t imagine anyone outside of an affluent family pursuing a career with so little room for financial growth. And I wonder: Would that well-to-do reporter shake hands with the homeless person she interviews? Would she walk into a ghetto and knock on a door to speak with the mother of a shooting victim? Or would she just post some really profound tweets with fantastic hash tags?
Maybe that’s what people – editors and readers – put at a premium now. Maybe a newsroom full of fresh-from-the-dorm reporters who stay at their desks, rehashing press releases and working on Storify instead of actual stories, is what will keep newspapers relevant.
But I doubt it.
While having money doesn’t necessarily make anybody anything, the rich are way more likely to prioritize their own self-interests above the interests of other people. [They are] more likely to exhibit characteristics that we would stereotypically associate with, say, assholes.UC Berkeley psychologist Paul Piff trying to explain why the rich don’t give to charity.
you have a lot of young, hopeful, unrich people, and a lot of older, less hopeful, but orders-of-magnitude wealthier people who want to invest in the young, hopeful people, often in the same way an older man with a videocamera wants to invest in a porn starlet.Goddammit, I love Paul Ford.