Spotify – The Enlightened Music Data Despot

In the age of ubiquitous cloud computing, the rise of streaming services feels like old news. Of course we love streaming! For consumers, prices are lowers, libraries bigger, and services suddenly bespoke. What could be better?

While services like Facebook have received the brunt-end of public outrage for their use of consumer data, Spotify has managed to stay under-the-radar despite its aggressive data collection practices – which are commonplace across the “app” industry.

How has Spotify managed this? By giving users just enough value for their data in return. Features like custom playlists, API tools, and social/UI features shift public perception of Spotify from a looming corporate data farmer to an enlightened data despot.

Yet upon further inspection, I believe Spotify could be doing more for both its common consumers/users and less-common developers and amateur artists folk like me.

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Human obsession with order & classification

Inventions such as animal husbandry, irrigation, writing and mathematics are  viewed as the hallmarks of early civilization. These advancements separated us from other earth species by taking advantage of our ability to self-organize and further ensure our survival.

Yet these advancements – and the many that followed – required humanity to develop a deep bias and obsession with order and classification.

Note: this post was written based on reading from Mycelium Running (Paul Stamets), A Thousand Plateaus (Deleuze, Gilles & Guattari), and Unruly Edges  (Anna Tsing).

It is also inspired by the lessons learned while playing Sid Meier’s Civilization.

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