Wednesday, May 20, 2009

I Deleted My Widget

For a couple of years, I've had a "widget" (over to The Journal's starboard) from an online music thing called Last.fm. Ostensibly, the "widget" shows the music that one has been listening to, either online or, through an aplication called "scrobbler," on one's personal listening device. Last.fm does a lot of other things, since it is one of those marketing and "social" networking sites that all of your local bars, shops, and restaurants have usurped from the individuals who used to use them just to stay in touch with friends, take insipid movie quizzes, and publish embarrassing pictures of each other.
Many of my friends are ready to log off permanently because they are "damned sick of facebook" asking ("suggesting") that they be "friends" or "fans" of local drinkeries that they would never visit on a dare. I'm also a little creeped out by a downtown New Bedford business group that is presenting itself as the actual downtown -- and of course, who wouldn't want to be friends with Downtown New Bedford? And they're following me on Twitter. And they're probably watching me write this right now!
(140 characters? Twitter is another story altogether. Regular readers of This Journal will understand that my verbosity is sometimes a dra )
For me, the Last.fm widget became an exercise in exhibitionism that referred directly to my former incarnation as a disc jockey. Show business is show business, and I did my best behind the turntables to devise aurally-interesting rinse-outs. Or whatever you kids are calling it these days.
When I was a club deejay, I actually counted beats and faded pitch to keep the dancefloor full. Unfortunately, it was at the time of people in parachute pants, popping and locking. Two turntables plus a board that allowed limited effects like echo and distortion.
It was fun.
A radio studio was even better because I had dozens of noise-making tape machines, CD players, turntables, reel-to-reels, plus a library of sound effects and movie dialogue drop-ins.
The Last.fm widget is a less interesting medium. And that was frustrating for me. It would simply list the songs as iTunes shuffled and played them as I listened online. Or, three days later from my scrobbled iPod. My music collection swings in wide genre arcs, so it's often a challenging mix, but the challenge keeps my imagination on our toes as The Partridge Family's "I Think I Love You" plays into Angelo Badalamenti's "Theme to Twin Peaks" which segues into XTC's "Snowman" and I realize that Andy Partridge did the theme to Wonderfalls.
Sometimes, when I would be especially clever, I would actually "program" a music set that would exhibit a particular theme or attitude. It was the closest that this Journal ever got to being a music blog. I often found myself sweetening the mix by purposefully playing songs that went together well thematically and musically. As though I were still in the studio. And I thought that somebody was noticing the clever.
Nobody was.
I grew tired of everyone knowing that at 2:15 one morning, I was playing Tavares. That I was listening to my reggae mix while a friend was doing her jazz show on the radio. That I listen to prog.
Oh. Wait...
I was also getting very strange Last.fm friend requests. VERY strange. And, there was that e-mail from the guy who just had to inform me that Winston Rodney "is a well-documented racist." (He said that he had seen Burning Spear on my Last.fm page.)
Why shouldn't I leave this? Besides my old college chum, the famous singer-songwriter Dare Dukes. Whom I befriended on Last.fm readily because I could download his very excellent music. From his mySpace. Bitterandrew and Dr. Momentum know that I am daily in their thrall, whether at their sites or through my new best friend, the Google Reader.
I know that I could just remove the widget from the starboard rail. But the Last.fm scrobbler would still insist, to an unknown constituency, that I was listening to three different musicians and musical groups: Elvis Costello and Elvis Costello & The Attractions as well as Elvis Costello and the Attractions.
And I don't want that on my conscience.

2 comments:

Andrew Weiss said...

I can dig it. I forget Last.fm exists for weeks at a time, especially since learning the hard way that listening to my vanity "radio" station will fill my cache to crashing after a dozen songs.

ThirdMate said...

I'd forgotten about the "radio" thing when I realized that (for all of its own vagaries) my iPod actually is cleverer.