Threadless, Reddit, and Other Social Veterans

It’s time to stock up on t-shirts, and also time for a sale at Threadless. The sale end is due to end at the end of tomorrow (Monday), and the design is “Larry the Fox Doesn’t Feel So Clever Anymore.”

I see that today is the 6th anniversary of my very first Threadless order. Back in 2005 I lived in Boston and had only one kid; now I’m in Bethesda, Maryland, have two kids, and have seen a lot of other changes in those years. So has Threadless, although still has its community rate the submitted shirt designs.

Another social media site so old it can remember when Web 2.0 was a trendy term is Reddit. I see that I’ve been a redditor for 6 years. Mu current favorite subreddit is Breaking Bad, to which members submit links relevant to the excellent TV show of the same name.

The image shows one of my favorite recent submissions. It turns out that the original was sold on Etsy, “the world’s homemade marketplace”, and another older-than-6 social site. By the way, I did search for Breaking Bad t-shirts, and there are some out there, but none of them edged out the shirts I liked at Threadless.

This very blog is currently hosted at WordPress.com, which is run by Automattic, another social web company that passes the rather arbitrary 6-year test. Congratulations to the four above-mentioned veteran firms, and to other who have been around that long: it’s been a long and interesting passage of time.

Google Music: Initially Underwhelmed, But…

Google Music launched to a rather lukewarm reception. Don’t Be Too Disappointed By Google Music’s Lackluster Debut was the advice from TechCrunch. Here’s How Google Music Plans to Compete So Late in the Game was the slightly-perkier reaction from RWW. GigaOm was rather more upbeat:

The service mirrors smilar offerings from Apple and Amazon, with a unique social twist: Users will be able to share their purchases on Google+, giving their friends and followers a chance to listen (one-time only) to singles and complete albums for free.

So essentially it’s a music locker linked to an MP3 store (i.e. Android Market). We can browse, sample, and purchase. The browsing works fine. The sampling, not so much, when I tried it on iPad: the browser-based player seemed to think it was playing, but there was no sound. Playing is fine on the Windows/Chrome setup I’m currently using. The Google Music/Android Market apps won’t work on my Android phone, but then, not many recent apps work on a G1…

I tried music purchasing in two ways. First, I compared Android Market MP3 prices with Amazon. Amazon was usually less expensive; for example, Laura Veirs’ Tumble Bee is $9.49 in the DroidMart, rather than $7.99 at Amazon.

But I did already make one purchase from Android Market: Los Campesinos!’ Hello Sadness for $5.99. I’ll get round to making a Google+ playlist including tracks from this, and other music I own, soon. Right now, I’m uploading a lot of music from disc, while barely making a dent in the 20,000-track Google Music allowance.

I feel rather overwhelmed, in a good way, by the options open to the web-based music listener. I’m not blown away by Google’s offering right now, but will keep on comparing it with Amazon’s – and with Apple’s, and Spotify’s, and with other – and plan to post as I compare. I’m interested in your comparisons also, so feel free to post them as comments here.

HTML5: Which nest(s) should it foul?

HTML5 kills the blog format! That’s the hope, if not quite the prediction, made by Scott Fulton at RWW. There’s a lot to like about the post. For example, Scott acknowledges that it’s strange to wish for the death of the very format you are using to express your wish.

But I’m not sure that Scott is aiming the HTML5 gun at the appropriate target. He detests “the fast food of today’s publishing society.” So do I, but blogs are, by today’s standards, leisurely and thoughtful repasts. His main complaint, though, concerns formatting.

The blog format relieves publishers from the tiresome duty of producing covers and front pages and things to make their content more attractive and make readers want it. In some cases, it enables publishers to surrender any responsibility for making content attractive in the first place.

This may have been true a couple of years ago. But it ignores the work done at WordPress, Tumblr, and other platforms to provide tools for the management of content – including the very aspects on which Scott focuses.

If Scott wants to aim to HTML5 gun at any platforms, for the reasons he states, then he has at least two targets more appropriate than blog/content management platforms. I refer to Facebook and Twitter. Each enables and hosts the production of vast amounts of fast food, in generic containers.

I expect to be blogging, probably using WordPress, for years after HTML5 makes its mark on the web. I’m less sure that I’ll be using Facebook and/pr Twitter that long. How about you?

Spotify Arrives – By Flying Pig?

I was among those who thought that flying pigs would arrive in the USA before Spotify did. Well, Spotify has arrived. The pigs probably did too, when I was too distracted by Google+ and SpotifyUSA to notice.

I’m using the free version right now, and liking it. The range of music is wide. The only thing I’ve been disappointed at not finding is the new Gillian Welch album.

I’m currently listening to Richard Thompson’s 1000 Years of Popular Music (which I really should have bought by now). The first thing I listened to was Traffic’s John Barleycorn Must Die (which I bought on iTunes, but promptly lost due to a computer accident and due to Apple’s ridiculous policy against re-downloading music one already owns).

Here’s what has most impressed me so far about Spotify. When this computer (old PC running Windows XP) lost its wireless connection, and I couldn’t get to my email, bank account, etc. in the browser, Spotify kept playing. It kept playing Radiohead’s Amnesiac (yet another album I should have bought by now).

So, I am impressed by free Spotify and am considering paying for one of the premium versions. I’m sorry to say that I have no invites to give out…

eBooks: Pottermore and More

While there seem to be some big splashes in online music services (see the previous post, about Spotify and Facebook), much of it is caused by treading water. Meanwhile, there’s significant movement in eBooks.

The current big story is Pottermore.com. JK Rowling’s new site will offer many things, including, at last, Harry Potter ebooks. Such is the e-book-business impact that the Wall Street Journal has been very Pottermore-y of late (example).

Sam Jordinson in the Guardian hailed Rowling’s marketing genius.

Pottermore.com has allowed Rowling to neatly sidestep the middle man (Amazon), maintain complete control over pricing, scoop up nearly all the profits from royalties, and keep all the sales information and the further marketing opportunities that offers to herself. She will also more than likely do all of that at a price and quality that will leave her customers almost as delighted as her publishers (who remain on board) and her accountants.

There has been some mockery of JKR’s conversion to ebooks, after years of refusing to allow (legal) Potter ebooks; now she can capture the retailer’s, as well as the author’s, share of the proceeds. I’m not inclined to join the mockery

Part of the reason is that I’ve only recently embarked on ebooks myself, having had thoughts and doubts about ebooks for some time. What’s changed is that I now have an ebook-friendly device: an iPad.

The first full-length ebook I bought was Ian McDonald’s The Dervish House. I bought it at Amazon, when it was on sale for a couple of bucks. So I am using the Kindle application on the iPad, and it’s going pretty well so far.

I can’t bring myself to pay as much for an ebook as for the corresponding physical book. That may well change with time, and would be different if the ebook had worthwhile extras.

I don’t expect to be among the many who buy ebooks at Pottermore, although I’m sure I expect I’ll give the site a try.

Music Spotlight Turns From Spotify to Facebook

Facebook’s music plans involve Spotify, others, revealed Om Malik, thus setting the tone for this week’s conversation about online music.

Last week’s conversation was more about Spotify itself, with $100M in new funding giving a bump to the long-running rumor that the US launch really is near. A deal with Facebook was often mentioned (although sometimes with a note that Facebook was probably not interested in teaming up).

I have more curiosity than enthusiasm about Spotify’s arrival, music on Facebook, and the intersection of the two. I miss Lala, which was acquired by Apple back in 2009, and haven’t enjoyed any other service nearly as much since. Amazon, Apple, and Google have of course each launched a music locker, each with different features above and beyond the basic locker. None of them gives me the control that Lala did.

I’ll try Spotify when it launches, but I fear that its US launch will come too late, and in the shadow of Facebook.

Groundswell Paperback

Three years ago, I received a review copy of Groundswell, the book about “social technologies” by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff. I was very impressed by it, as my review post shows.

I see from Charlene’s blog that a paperback edition is now available. There are a couple of new chapters. One is about “social maturity”, on which Josh posted recently.

The other new chapter is on Twitter, which has grown to be as big as a (fail) whale in the three years since the Groundswell hardback. In some ways, the addition of a chapter on a particular tool goes against a strength of the book. To quote myself: “the authors resist the temptation to provide a lot of detail about specific tools… the tools will change.”

Perhaps the addition of a Twitter chapter is an implicit prediction that Twitter is here to stay, at least for a few years. If so, then the absence of a chapter on Facebook is interesting…

ProjectSlice and Online Shopping

ProjectSlice aims to help you organize your online shopping by analyzing your inbox, as Leena at TechCrunch puts it. I’m on the waitlist for the beta.

I’ve started using the Yahoo mail app, which has found a recent purchase from Amazon and the recentish purchase of an iPad from Apple. I can’t think of anything recent that the Yahoo app has missed. I was surprised that its request for an OpenID was out in the open. I’m pleasantly surprised that it didn’t insist on a Facebook or Twitter id.

Some other purchases go through my ChangingWay email (andrew@). I’ll have to wait for the beta to see how well it integrates mailboxes. It’ll be interesting to see how it handles requests to sign up for ProjectSlice from people who are already using the Yahoo app. Seamlessly, I hope, but we’ll see.

ProjectSlice has received quite a lot of coverage already (e.g., GigaOm, RWW). That’s not surprising, given that those who blog about tech are likely to do a lot of their shopping online. The $9M in funding probably doesn’t hurt, either.