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Spotify & Facebook Bring the Noise

Posted in Insights — October 7, 2011

Noise is unavoidable. If you spend a significant portion of your day not in a yurt or up a tree, you’re going to be faced with varying degrees of it. If you work on a computer all day, it’s likely that the degree of potential noise is extremely high. The trick is to process, to minimize, to separate the useful from the useless. Typically, it’s not that difficult, because typically, software engineers and application developers are trying to provide more than just noise.

So explain to me how the Spotify feed in the already noisy new Facebook ticker is more than just noise.

I get why Spotify would interface with Facebook. Why wouldn’t you, if you could? I actually like that I can share playlists with Facebook friends. That’s a cool, useful feature. Good job on that.

The ticker itself is a usability faux pas. Is my sort of friend commenting on something someone I never met posted about football? Right now? I don’t care; I can’t possibly care. Also, the more friends/fans you have, the more useless it is, as though Facebook is punishing you for being successful on Facebook. How are you supposed to interact with a feature that consists essentially of a blur that occupies a significant portion of your screen? Where’s the benefit there?

Wait, OK, let’s make it worse. OK, all your friends with Spotify accounts? Who use Spotify on a regular basis, maybe all day for background music? Well, what if you could have the equivalent of them calling you and announcing what song they’re listening to, while they’re listening to it? ALL DAY LONG?

I’ve done it too – we all have. You get cloistered (which is not a euphemism for “drunk”) in a meeting room, start throwing ideas around, get carried away, lose perspective. Typically, though, there’s someone there to rein it in, and an idea that seemed revolutionary bears no scrutiny, is almost embarrassing when exposed to the light of reason. Didn’t someone at Spotify, when this plan was getting tossed around, say “but who would care?” Someone must have said something, because they do include a feature that allows you to turn the stream off, but, considering 99.99% of potential users are likely to do that, why develop the streaming function at all?

But they did, and there it is. More useless noise. Sure, you can say, “so don’t use it.” But, as much as I complain about it, I like Facebook. I like Spotify. They are great tools that have been offered to me to use, for free, and I’m thankful. They also benefit from my using them. My personal information is regularly stripmined and sold to numerous advertisers and, likely, authority figures. I’m helping them stay in business, albeit in a tiny way. So, quid pro quo on that one.

It’s obviously not the end of the world. Actually, it’s not big deal at all. Actually, I should be damn glad to have this “problem.” “Waaaah, my free thing that I use on my computer does this thing with another free thing on my computer that is somewhat bothersome if you’re looking at that thing right then! I’m going to go cry about it over a glass of tap water from which I won’t get cholera!” Ridiculous. Regardless, I use software all day. I notice things. Other people do too, for what that’s worth. If asked, I’d have said no Facebook and Spotify: let’s not abuse feed relevance like that.

And that’s enough of my noise.


  1. Another interesting note: Because Spotify marches to the drum of Major Labels – there’s a lot of music you won’t find on Spotify. These days most musicians (even big ones) like to leak a track or two before an album is released – some have even abandoned the album format – none of that is on Spotify. Do most users care that their missing the the newest, hottest music? No, and that’s fine – but for those of us cut out of Facebook Music – it’s kind of a drag…

    Posted by DJ Invisiboy, October 7, 2011 | Reply

    • That’s a great point. Spotify definitely plays to the mainstream.

      Posted by Admin, October 10, 2011 | Reply

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