Small World Music?

When Tim and I were doing our futurist thing at HHCL, one of our predictions was of flash trends. We imagined that global connectedness would lead, especially in music, to emergent conjunctions of global microinfluences — some weird arabic/japanese/techhop track at the top of dance charts? Blame it on the Net.

But it (so far) hasn’t really happened, which still suprises me — in the global music community, surely more people should be doing their listening and mixing from more eclectic sources?

We had asumed that music communities worldwide would follow a ‘small world’ topology, but it seems not. Obviously, there are a number of limiting factors at work, including the global stranglehold of the music majors, and the insularity of specific music communities. Possibly there is simply an insufficient number of eclectic ‘connectors’ bridging local clusters of interest, preventing any particular admixture of ideas to reach a wildfire threshold and crossover into the global networked consciousness.

Which leads me to thinking: weblogs and community sites work well to augment tight-knit communities of interest, to surface and develop new ideas, and to build and acknowledge reputation within the community. But for small-world dynamics to kick in, these clusters need long-haul interconnections. Possibly, emerging standards for digital syndication and aggregation can augment the function of the human connectors who do the joining-up in social networks. I’m interested to see what happens when syndication technology percolates out into online music communities — what will happen when there are more channels for local knowledge and enthusiasm to be spread automagically into other communities worldwide?

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