Summer Jamz

How Users Self-Categorize on Turntable.fm

ttfm How Users Self Categorize on Turntable.fm

No, not that kind of bear.

Now that Turntable.fm courts celebrities as investors, it’s fair game for the likes of The Hollywood Reporter, which had an interesting interview with co-founder Seth Goldstein over the weekend. In it, Mr. Goldstein discusses monetization (with engaged users it’ll come naturally) and how DCMA-compliant listening makes for a passive experience (“it’s primarily read-only”).

As an early investor in the taxonomic trailblazers behind Delicious, Mr. Goldstein also had some telling observations about how TTFM users have scrapped traditional genres for a different approach to categorization.

We also noticed that the conventional notion of [genres] is a relic of a bygone day. The most interesting rooms on Turntable.fm is the mashup room, where the only theme that ties people together is the fact that people have to mash up two songs. There’s things like ocean rooms, where you can play anything you want so long that it has something to do with an ocean. There was a Hurricane Irene room where one guy played “Hurricane” by Bob Dylan, and another girl played “Here Comes The Rain Again.” One of my favorites is there’s an “orange bear indie room” where the only caveat is that you have to wear the avatar of the orange bear. It’s interesting to see how people categorize things themselves and create communities around their own categorization schemes. I was one of the original investors in a company called Del.i.cious, and the whole point was that peole would tag things however they wanted to. Whereas Yahoo would call it “sports” website, the user would tag it a baseball website or a Red Sox website. So I think we’re seeing how powerful it is when users are given the opportunity to organize their own music.

We hope new Delicious owners, YouTube’s Steve Chen and Chad Hurley, are taking note. But as the failure for #occupywallst (or #occupywallstreet or #ows) to crack Twitter’s trending topics has shown, too many tags isn’t always a good thing.

Follow Nitasha Tiku on Twitter or via RSS. ntiku@observer.com