Saturday, July 29, 2006

The Internet is Just a Great Big Pencil Case

You may have noticed that I've added a badge to this blog and if you haven't it's the thing on the right-hand side underneath the heading "I'm listening to" that lists which musical tracks I've been listening to lately.

I deliberated over whether to add it or not - do I really want people seeing my eclectic - at times immature, others pensionable - musical tastes? Not sure, but I thought personalising my blog in this way would be a good thing to do - at work we're always trying to think of the next big thing, so I need to make sure I'm at least in step with the kinds of things the kids have been up to for quite some time now.

My annoyance that it's not updating regularly aside, it's another level of self revelation that you can take or leave, but I'm putting it out there in the same spirit that I'm publishing my random thoughts. It might prompt a connection between us, maybe indirectly by encouraging you to sign up to and find me there, or directly by a laugh or look of disgust (some of my taste really is that bad).

I've been thinking about what a brilliant time to be a teenager this is. In the past, the only way to make a connection with like-minded teens was to wear a badge on your lapel, or scrawl something on your pencil case in the hope that the sixth former in the art room might notice that you had cool taste and you could be worth talking to. He never did.

But now, as your fragile sense of self develops, as your tastes develop, there are thousands of others out there that you can find interested in the same things as you at the click of a badge or a feed or a button. Surely with some careful management this could have a positive effect on teenagers' mental health, letting them know that they're ok even if they feel like they don't fit in with the other kids at school? I shudder to think quite how whey faced I would be if a teenager nowadays, I'd never get away from the screen, but I really think I'd be having a lot of fun.

Even now, with a relatively robust sense of self, I have benefited from a connection. It turns out one of my "neighbours" is a 21 year old Finnish man who has a similar love of classic soul anthems, slightly obscure rap and indie tunes who has introduced me to some new classics through his well-tagged tracks. In this case, due to the non-intrusive nature of some of's features, I haven't had to force myself upon this chap like a cyberspace Mrs Robinson, I can just rifle through his recently played tracks and I'm the only one who's any wiser. Which still makes me feel a little grubby, but I'll get over it.

You'll find me by clicking on the list to the right. I'll be the one listening to the Gnarls Barkley and Thom Yorke albums - both excellent. And a couple of tracks by Jedi Mind Tricks, courtesy of the Finn.

No comments: