I think everyone is a composer, at the very least through endless spoken melodies
— Robert Davidson (@robcomposer) January 23, 2015
Rob’s tweet raises three profound questions in my mind. Continue reading
Here are some recommended people to follow on Twitter. Most of them have blogs of various kinds which you can access via their Twitter profiles.
For hip-hop, sampling and everything related:
For the highbrow and avant-garde:
This is a melancholy topic for me. There was a time when my Delicious network feed was the first site I looked at in the morning, my favorite source of news and serendipitous new knowledge, and the primary repository for my short-form writing. Now I barely ever use it.
I started out using Delicious for its intended purpose, bookmarking. Then I discovered that between the tags and the notes field, it was a spectacular notetaking tool. Over time, I built up a network of around a hundred other people. My Delicious use became 10% archiving and annotating links I planned to refer to later, and 90% social linkblogging. The experience became almost Quora-like.
Here’s an alarming Mark Zuckerberg quote from The Facebook Effect by David Kirpatrick:
You have one identity… The days of you having a different image for your work friends or co-workers and for the other people you know are probably coming to an end pretty quickly… Having two identities for yourself is an example of a lack of integrity.
How nice for Mark Zuckerberg that he doesn’t feel the need to keep any part of himself private. Zuckerberg doesn’t have an identity outside of his work, which is common enough in Silicon Valley startup culture but is neither possible nor desirable for most of us. When family members have illnesses, or friends are feeling down, or I’m thinking or feeling something that doesn’t reflect well on me in that moment, how is that any of my coworkers’ business? Zuckerberg understands human psychology very well within the context of college and startup culture, but Facebook is an increasingly poor fit for the complexities of my social life.
As part of New York Social Media Week, I attended a panel entitled “The Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy of Social Media as Music’s Savior.” It was first thing in the morning, which really asks a lot from the music hipsters. I would normally have just live-tweeted this thing, but the wi-fi in the place was too weak, and besides, I figured it deserved a blog post. So here’s the more coherent, edited version of what I planned to post on Twitter. Since the event was dominated by Kanye West from the title on down, I’ll be featuring Twitter-centric pictures of him.
After a few years of honing and balancing my various social media profiles and blogs, here’s how I have the information flowing. This doesn’t represent every last thing I put on the web, but it does cover the tools I use regularly. Continue reading
If you want to get your web page noticed but don’t want to spend a lot of money on advertising, your best bet is search engine optimization, or SEO. As of this writing, that mostly means understanding how Google ranks search hits, and adapting your web presence accordingly.
Historically, search engine results were ranked based on the frequency and proximity of keywords in the page text. But as the web grows, there are tons and tons of pages out there with the same or similar keywords. Any Google search on any remotely mainstream topic is going to return thousands and thousands of hits, most of which are useless to you. Another problem is that the keyword system is easy to game. Unscrupulous web designers can load up a page with invisible keywords repeated over and over, by putting them in the same color as the background off to the side of the page.
To make its results more useful, Google tries to rank its keyword-based search results in the order of their relevance. They do this using a complex proprietary algorithm called PageRank, the real heart of their search engine. One of PageRank’s most heavily weighted factors is the number of links pointing to a page. If more people link to your site, presumably that’s because it’s more useful or authoritative. PageRank also recursively factors in the number of links going into those pages that link to you.
So the key to a higher Google rank is getting other pages to link to you. The question is, how do you get those precious inbound links?
One night, Anna was watching me Twitter over my shoulder. After a while, she announced: “I get it. It’s a video game where you compete for attention from strangers on the internet.” She’s completely correct. Having a web presence is effectively a real-world immersive internet game. The scoreboard is your stats page or follower list. Like any good iPhone game, Twitter even has a built-in global leaderboard.
Blogging scratches the same itch in me as SimCity or Civilization, except instead of building a virtual terrarium I’m building social connections.
This is not to knock SimCity and Civilization at all. They’re a ton of fun, and they’re brilliant teaching tools for computer science and the concept of emergence. Blogging is a better real-time strategy game, though, because it brings me non-hypothetical real-world benefits.
I’ve been making sample maps, diagrams showing what songs include samples of what other songs. I’m a big sample geek. I like knowing where my music comes from the same way I like knowing where my food comes from. This map shows many, probably not nearly all, of the songs that sample Michael Jackson’s solo work. Click to see it bigger.
MJ is in the middle, with his songs in the first ring out. The next ring shows songs that sampled MJ. The outer ring shows the artist who did the sampling. Most of the information comes from the Rap Sample FAQ and wikipedia. I included MJ quoting “Soul Makossa” and Björk quoting “Wanna Be Startin’ Something” even they aren’t technically samples, but I figured, musically and legally it’s the same thing. Continue reading