“Slow social media” - This is my jam

Martin Belam by Martin Belam, 30 January 2012

At the Guardian, most days we have a five minute talk about something digital during morning conference. Often it is our own products and services we showcase, but sometimes we talk about something outside the building that has caught our eye digitally. Last week I was talking about This Is My Jam.

This Is My Jam is a social music sharing and discovery service. So what, you might think - we’ve got last.fm and Spotify, and the Ping thing in iTunes that nobody uses. But This Is My Jam is quite different. It invites you to share just one song at any given time, and that becomes your “jam” for up to seven days. When you visit the service, you see a list of your friends “jams”, and hitting play on one of them starts playing them in sequence.

It is like internet radio where the playlist is determined by your friends and their choice of “jam”.

(I should, at this point, apologise for being my age and saying things like “jam” in public in the context of music - if it helps, imagine I am saying “hey pop-pickers, that is a groovy 45” instead.)

If you don’t know the service, you can find out more about it and sign up for the beta here. Or find a friend on Twitter who is using it, and they can invite you in.

I think the service is interesting for three reasons.

Slow social media

This Is My Jam is the very opposite of Spotify’s Facebook integration or last.fm’s scrobbling. It isn’t about all the things you’ve listened to. It is about carefully choosing and curating one song at a time to represent you in a social digital space. Slow social media.

It also introduces an interesting phenomena - social media stage fright. It is like DJing slowly, one track at a time, and once you’ve posted something that has attracted likes and followers, you feel desperate to avoid clearing the virtual dancefloor by picking a clanger.

Lean build

If you think of the full scope of the service, you might consider building a registration system, a way of hosting lots of different music formats, and employing an army of music industry lawyers to clear the rights and sort out the royalty arrangements. Then you’d need to build the player, and the way of connecting together people.

Actually This Is My Jam dispenses with a lot of the hard work. Registration is handled by integration with Twitter and Facebook, and although there is scope to upload your own mp3s, the main way of sharing music is by embedding videos from YouTube. That shifts the burden of hosting and legal obligation onto Google, and allows This Is My Jam to concentrate on the bits of the service that are unique to them. It is a lean way to get up to a minimal viable product quickly.

Great use of notifications

The team have made great use of notifications. When you post your “jam”, you get regular emails telling you that people have “liked” it.

Assuming they do, of course.

It means even if you don’t revisit the service during the seven days your track is available, you get a background feeling about whether your track has gone down well. The service then sends you an email when your track is about to expire, reminding you to pick a new one. It is a gentle way of driving people back to the site to engage with it.

You can find me at thisismyjam.com/currybet. At the time of writing, my jam was “Witches” by Low.

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