Above all things that are great about the Internet, the instant gratification of needs and desires is the one I love the most. Second to that is Google’s amazing ability to find the answer to just about anything, third is Wolfram Alpha’s fantastic website. But I digress. Actually, it’s probably the second best thing about the internet. Social Media is the best. I can be social from behind my screen and no-one would ever guess what an anti-social b’stard I can be. Unless I told them. Oh. Ah, well. On with the post…
Instant Gratification. It’s lovely! I’ve had an Android phone for over a year now and between the Kindle app and the Amazon music store I can get pretty much anything I want. Instantly. Well, I say “instantly”, it’s as instant as the broadband speeds up here allow for and that’s still faster than buying a book or a CD. If I upgrade the card in my phone from a 2Gb to a 16 or 32, I can ditch my old iPod completely!
Example a. The Detroit Social Club. Until a few weeks ago, I’d never heard of the band. Didn’t know they existed. Then this fantastic song, “God’s Gonna Cut You Down” was used in the soundtrack to an episode of Being Human. Song ID app on the phone told me who had done it, Amazon MP3 store provided a link. One click and 79p later a new band had entered my life. Superb. I haven’t bought their album yet, but I have listened to it a few times on Spotify at work. I’ll get it one of these days.
Example b. Spotify. Anyone who says that all the world’s music is on there can go fish. Colin Hay’s new album, Gathering Mercury, isn’t on there, nor was his last album. Be that as it may, a lot of the world’s music is on there. The violinist, David Garrett, appeared on ITV’s Dancing On Ice for the final. Yes, I watch DoI, but I’m heartily sick of the Bolero. Monday comes round and I’m writing some code, needing some music to listen to, and I end up on Spotify with a huge playlist of Garrett’s past albums. Classical Pop/Rock is a bit hit and miss, so there’s definitely some cherry-picking needed to get the good stuff. But you can do that! You can choose which tracks you want, which you don’t. Much, much better than buying a physical CD.
Example c. The Kindle. “Bugger,” thought I. “Train journey tomorrow and I haven’t a thing to read!” Along comes a blog post, a re-tweet via Twitter, IIRC, and suddenly I’ve a new author to follow and a techno-thriller to pass the hours between Edinburgh and York. Spot-onski. And it was how I discovered the excellent “Writing Therapy” by Tim Atkinson. (On the Amazon Kindle Store)
Example d. Random advertising tweets. You know how it goes on Twitter. You mention “marmalade” once and suddenly you’re followed by half-a-dozen marmalade-themed bots and the British Marmalade Lovers Society is re-tweeting your stuff. I made a comment to a friend, @RequestFriday, on Bute FM that he should get some more Prog Rock on his show, mentioning a couple of bands – Nightwish and Avantasia to be precise. A few hours later I receive a tweet from @SilentFall, a French Prog Rock band, promoting their new album. And it’s on Amazon for download. An hour later, I’m out for a run listening to this excellent album. If I hadn’t commented on Twitter, it could’ve been years before this band came on to my radar. But mostly these random tweets just get blocked and reported for spam.
But it’s not just the near-instantaneous nature of the gratification, it’s the finding new stuff. Thanks to Twitter, the Kindle, sites like Spotify which list related and similar artists, I now know of a whole host of new artists and writers to draw from. It’s enriching my musical and literary world. And there’s not many places you can say do that now!
If the internet were to shut down tonight, apart from wondering what to do with my HTML and PHP skills and how I’d fill the hours now that Twitter’s not there, I’d miss the exploration, the thrill of discovery, and the instant gratification of downloading a writer or musician’s entire back catalogue. The internet truly is a wonderful resource.
So in the past month, I’ve discovered several new authors and albums by bands I’d never even heard of. Without the Internet I would have lived in blissful ignorance of their existence. Don’t get me wrong, I love browsing book stores. I love the feel of a physical book in my hand, the smell of the paper, the very ambience of the store itself. And if you find a bookshop like Cogito in Hexham use them to the very limit of your wallet, they’re rare beasts indeed.
Over to you. What has the internet delivered to you this last month? Who or what have you discovered that you never knew you couldn’t live without before?