It’s been an emotional week for me and my fellow Delicious lovers. The hysteria began with a slide leaked from an internal presentation at Yahoo, Delicious’ corporate parent, saying the service was among the ones slated to be “sunsetted.”
After Techcrunch published the slide, the web lit up with the rumor that Delicious would be shut down. It took Yahoo a full twenty-four hours to respond, an eternity in internet time, and when their official statement did finally come, it didn’t exactly put anyone’s mind at ease. They’re keeping Delicious live for the time being, but they plan to… do what? Sell it? The language is vague.
I’ve loved Delicious since I started using it — here’s my full-length rhapsody on why it’s so valuable to me. Watching Yahoo neglect it has been painful, since there’s a lot of untapped potential. For example, two months before Twitter launched, Delicious rolled its Network feature, which lets you subscribe to other users’ bookmarks. It’s basically a more tightly curated and better annotated version of Twitter. I started going back through my bookmarks to see who else was saving them and following everyone who was coming up with interesting tags and notes. The result is my list of a hundred or so Delicious users who consistently post interesting, useful and entertaining links. I look at my Delicious network feed first thing in the morning, before any news site, or Twitter or anything, because its signal to noise ratio is superb. Yahoo had an opportunity to create a robust social network around the Network feature, and they blew it.
If anyone comes to me wanting a personal web site, I try to convince them they should have a blog, specifically, a WordPress blog. I’m doing several web sites for clients that use WordPress. The more I work with this platform, the more I come to love it. WordPress is free, hacker-friendly and supported by an enthusiastic community. It represents everything good about the web right now.
Sample-based music isn’t stealing. It’s valuable and important. It shows the way toward a future for recorded music that’s more in continuity with music’s past. Recordings are cool and everything, but they encourage passivity. If I buy a recording, I can listen to it or dance to it, both fine activities, but what if I want to go further? What if I want to engage with it, converse with it, customize it or adapt it to my own needs? According to the law, I can’t. This flies in the face of the uncountable centuries of music practice that predate the invention of recordings. Before recordings, if you wanted to hear music, someone needed to play or sing it. To learn how to play or sing, you have to learn and interpret a ton of music by other people. The normal method for passing music along for nearly all of human history was by oral tradition, and a lot of adaptation and reinterpretation was an inevitable part of this transmission process.
In the modern world, most of the music you encounter is in recorded form. Adapting or customizing music is going to continue as it has for uncountable centuries. To adapt or customize a recording usually requires sampling. As it stands, the law is in the way. We need open-source music like we need open-source software.