Technology has revolutionized the world. Its no surprise that people who vowed to never use a cell phone now can't manage to live without one. I am amazed when I can create a musical composition and then within minutes of its creation, I can upload it to one site, http://www.soundcloud.com/winterman, to get immediate feedback on the composition from friends in my music community. With that same one post, my SoundCloud page updates the music player on my own web site, and is also linked to my Twitter Account and Facebook page, < a href="http://www.facebook.com/ruffandtuff">ht ... uffandtuff, to provide status updates letting my community of friends and listeners know about the new tune.
I know that all sounds great, but on the other hand, I often find myself "spread thin" with Social Media sites. Upon posting a successful song that I have created [for example], I get response and review emails from a network of people on several different sites similar to getting 10,000 people calling you on the phone at the same time on 4 different phones. The result of 10,000 people calling you at the same time is that [if the technology works properly] 1 person actually gets through to you, and the other 9,999 callers get voice mail, or are put on hold. An unfortunate downside to 9,999 people getting your voice mail, is that some begin to develop the idea that you don't care enough to "make yourself available" to them any more. This consequence happens for each of us that uses technology. This concept involves people who were your closest friends and family, as well as people who have continually monitored your work faithfully for months, and possibly years. Without taking an enormous amount of your valuable time to create separate user/group accounts on social network sites for each group of friends you have, prioritizing becomes key. Managing your work/life equation has added a new dimension, and humans, as resilient as we are, will need to adjust accordingly to this new world.
Now me, I'm figuratively a "beach bum", I could do without a cell phone altogether in some other far away "alternate reality". If I lived in a different type of community where I wasn't a web designer, or where I didn't make digital music, or love watching new movies, or playing video games, and chatting with friends on those other continents, things in that alternate place would be just fine. Therein lies the contradiction, and at the core of it all lies tough decisions. The decision of how to create a more simple life for myself by simplifying my technological needs and creating personal time away from technology.
I've spent a good amount of time in the past 3-100 years on social networking sites, having a cell phone that enabled me to check those sites made it a bit easier, but created even more "attentive engagement" to, and dependence on, those social networking sites. By creating my own site[s] with complete control over the information I want to share; now no one knows what "color of boxers I just bought at Macy's!" or who I've just added as "a friend" [or wife], because I am the only one who controls my "post processes".
We have to constantly be reminded of the failures in "social community sites" because they are often owned by companies that both need to and seek to maximize their profits. Social network sites often put [stopping user-to-user] spam on the bottom of their priority list because users spamming each other keeps those same users online longer, while they have to delete each of those spam messages one by one. We all know about the current state of MySpace, and the glory from which it fell, and spam lead to its demise as the most common complaint from users. I haven't logged on in months and I fear what my in-box looks like. But better yet, looking back on the overall experience, I don't miss it. Why are we so hooked on Facebook when its becoming the exact same experience more and more each day? Because we don't have our own web sites.
Functions that seemed "so useful" to you when you first signed up or started a profile on modern social networking sites disappear once you are hooked, and social community sites eventually become "cattle farms" for spam, ads, and everyone being "ignored". These social networking sites start out with the intentions of wanting to be your "friend" and then change to wanting to grab the attention of your "friends" away from you towards their marketing. In the process of then scrambling to find a way to generate money on a failing idea, company owned social network sites make desperate attempts to woo back their users by integrating new user features, but by that point, its too late. Some social networking sites betray the trust or privacy of their users as well, leading to their demise, for example, if you post pictures of yourself, friends, or family members and your house on a social network now, in 20 years if you become someone notable these pictures can come back to haunt you, not only because your friends may have saved them, but because the social network sites you were on back then detailed in your user agreements that they also "had rights to anything you upload".
A great social networking site right now for musicians, is SoundCloud.Com. I enjoy SoundCloud immensely right now, I upload my music there and see waveforms directly on the screen for each song. I integrate the players into my own web site and on facebook so that I can still check my SoundCloud page without having to actually "go there". By making music the focal point of their site, and allowing their content to be share freely on other sites, SoundCloud.Com is growing rapidly towards being the number one social networking site for independent online music promotion. YouTube for a long time now has followed a similar model of open-sourced/shared hosting to great success, while many other video providers that did not use the model failed miserably. Youtube has more recently begun to add commercials and overlaid advertisements to some videos, and they now disabled embedding [placing videos on non-YouTube sites] to the disapproval of many.
The future for music online has always been in developing a marketing presence and brand that one can control, but "sharing" with others to add viral cross-promotion is always a winner on the web. Even an empty Coca-Cola bottle, laying on the street [though of course you shouldn't litter], is still promoting Coca-Cola! Lets learn from our mistakes by starting and supporting new social networking sites that work for people [without taking advantage of cheap tactics] and lets not forget that the supporters and audiences are the key to site longevity in every point as our sites grow!
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