McFLY 2015 has an official site

I’m a little late in reporting this. Ok, way late, but those of you yearning for the futuristic sneakers worn by Marty McFly in Back To The Future 2 will be pleased to hear that there’s an official website to help you get your wish.

mcfly site

As you may recall, this project previously included an official petition (which has been shut down) and an ad for the petition on YouTube. Now you can ‘preorder’ the size you want in anticipation of its release. A more concrete way to get word to Nike that these are potential real consumers they’re talking about.

Update: I’ve been pointed to the brand new official McFly 2015 Video.

When I first covered this story I naïvely thought I was touching on an obscure little corner of fandom, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned from looking at what search terms and referring sites lead people to this one since I wrote about this project, it’s that sneaker fandom is HUGE.

Check out the ISS Forums to see what I mean:

Our users have posted a total of 1639342 articles
We have 73129 registered users

And in related news… Joy Division sneakers: Myth or Reality?

joy div sneakers

Really now, WHITE? What are they thinking?

File under Reefer Madness

Donny the Downloader

… and we’re supposed to take these people seriously?

See here for context.

Gushes beat leaks

Musicians and fans are so far ahead of the labels on “piracy” and DRM that increasingly one wonders whether ultimately either will have much use for labels at all. The Register has a short story up about Blur drummer Dave Rowntree, who argues that the labels should have known they’d lost the battle in 1997:

“If you turn back the clock when all this stuff was still on the horizon, the key realisation to have made was that we had lost the war already,” Rowntree told OUT-LAW Radio, the weekly technology law podcast. “That’s what I was going round telling everybody 10 years ago, saying ‘the horse has bolted, there’s no way of undoing what has been done already, the only thing you can do is to try and turn your business around so that you turn this into a plus rather than a minus’.”

Rowntree advises digital rights advocacy group the Open Rights Group and has been a vocal opponent of the mainstream record industry’s policies of chasing individual file sharers. When told that the last Blur album was leaked on to the internet he reportedly said “I’d rather it gushed”.

Rowntree said that the major labels’ policies of putting digital rights management (DRM) technology on music CDs to attempt to stop them being copied and shared backfired spectacularly.

“I’d rather it gushed.” I love it! He’s got some other points characterizing the people who “pirate” that are worth reading. The RIAA and its cohorts can sue until hiring lawyers eats every bit of gross income they’ve got and people are still going to rip and exchange music. Some things can’t go backwards.

I am not sure I like this whole idea gaining increasing currency that the new business model for music has to be advertising. I’m not clear on where these ads are supposed to be, but I’m pretty sure I’d rather pay money than have my music packaged with ads.

I’d like to see a model where somehow the fans channeled money right to the musicians, who could pay labels for any services they needed. Reverse the hierarchy so the labels work for the bands instead of the bands being horses in the label’s stables.

The Internet Has No Opinions

New York Magazine has a quick little article up about online fans’ divided reactions to the just-leaked Ryan Adams record. It’s a short piece with a 3 part set up that goes like this:

The Internet loves it! (excerpt of a positive blog review follows)

The Internet hates it! (excerpt of a negative blog review follows)

We think: (their own minireview follows)

Maybe tongue is in cheek, but if they could hear us talk about music over the phone would they write “The Telephone loves it!” ?

Would they write “The Television loves it!” ?

How about “the Telephone loves it, but the Television hates it!” ?

It’s this kind of acting as though the internet* were a unified creature capable of intentionality that leads to goofy irrational claims that lead to goofy irrational policies. Wikipedia? The Internet can’t be trusted, so we must ban it from education! MySpace? The Internet is dangerous so we must never let our children use it! Our Teaching Assistants pull their hair out when students in public speaking say things like “According to the Internet…”

And, word to the writers at New York magazine — YOU’RE “THE INTERNET” TOO!

* I prefer lower case “i” — and if you wonder why, just look at how strange capitalization looks on the words “Telephone” and “Television” in the sentences above.

Why not all friends are the same

In commenting on the enhanced value iLike can offer its users through the Facebook platform rather than the platform, CEO Ali Partovi said:

The #1 way people discover music is through friends, and iLike’s mission is to facilitate that. Facebook enhances this in two key ways: 1) instant personalization. On our dot-com site, each new user needs to tell us their music tastes, invite their friends, and get those friends to tell us their tastes. Whereas on our Facebook site, we already know your tastes, your friends, and their tastes, so we can offer you a personalized experience automatically. 2) Not another social network. People don’t wanna go somewhere separate just for music — they want music to enhance their existing online social life. For example: where would you rather see a notification that your buddies are going to see Snow Patrol: on a separate music website, or in the Facebook news feed that you’re already checking five times a day?

This last comment was picked up by Matthew Ingram of the Toronto Globe and Mail, who said “not a bad point.”

But I think it’s a point with some real problems. One of the great shortcomings of social network sites as they currently exist is that almost all of them offer you only one kind of friend. It’s binary — you’re a friend or you aren’t. Now there are some shades of grey on some sites: Flickr lets you call people friends, family or contacts and restrict content shared accordingly; Facebook lets you limit what some friends see and limit how much you see about some friends. But no social network site offers anywhere near the shades of gray that characterize real life friendship.

So let’s think for a minute about music and friendship. Once upon a time, back in the carefree days of youth before career and family came to shape my life above all other forces, my friendship group and my pop culture taste group were one and the same. My friends were my friends because they listened to the same bands I did, or at least their interests were close enough. If there had been Facebook back then, I’d be with Partovi all the way — yeah, combine them, why keep it separate?

But it’s not that way anymore. My Facebook friends are almost all people I know face-to-face as well. The few that aren’t are those who are either friends of friends (in a get together off line and have fun sense of the term) or people with common career interests to my own that I’ve had interesting interactions with. Am I interested in their musical taste? Well, as a matter of curiosity, but I have no reason to think there’s going to be any overlap in tastes, and no real compelling reason to care if a friend who I love hanging out with at conferences is going to see Snow Patrol. I certainly don’t want these people to serve as a primary source of music recommendations and I may be delighted when they listen to my radio stream and like it, but I certainly don’t expect them to care about my musical tastes. Yes, it’s cool in those moments when I discover, for example, that Jason Mittell not only has overlapping intellectual curiousities, but a lot of overlapping musical taste too, but that’s the exception.

In contrast, I have met very few of my friends. Most of them I imagine I’d have very little to say to if we were to meet. On the other hand, I can have rewarding interactions with them about music, and in many cases, their musical tastes are of great interest to me.

I would be happy to have my Facebook friends as part of my friendship network, but I would never want my friends subsumed within my Facebook network.

The short point here is that as long as we are limited to a friend vs not friend way of categorizing people, there are tremendous benefits to keeping “friends” separate on separate sites. I agree people don’t want multiple social networking sites, but until we are given meaningful ways to categorize friends within social networking sites, those of us who have online ‘friends’ of very different sorts need them.

There’s a lot of research out there about the many dynamics of relationship grouped together within the broad concept of friendship, and people developing social network sites would be wise to familiarize themselves with it and offer richer relational categorizing choices. But so long as a social network ‘friend’ is an either/or relationship, banking on the convergence of all such sites is profoundly limiting.

In particular, I suspect it is limiting the happy user base to teenagers and other young people who are most likely to have one sort of identity around which their friendships revolve (though it’s still important not to oversimplify teenage friendships). But those of us who, for better or worse, have come to have more bifurcated selves with different friendships that accompany each, and very few that span them all, are important too. There are many more of us, and all those teens are going to turn into us. Right now social network sites are used primarily by teens, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to stay that way. Older folks need music social networking sites much more than teens do for this very reason — we are much less likely have peers who we can rely on to turn us on to new music. And we’re the ones with tons o’ cash to drop on music purchases.