The Last.FM geeky white boy hit parade

noah and the whaleWhen I was at dConstruct earlier this year (and as I write this I realise that I never published the post I wrote in my papery notebook, which is probably just as well as I wasn’t entirely positive), I was struck by how white it was: there were very few black, asian or ‘other’ (as those crass ethnicity tracking surveys phrase it) faces in the crowd. This seemed much more surprising than the attendees being male, youthful, and speccy. (I really did expect geeks to be more heterogeneous and less stereotypical and was rather disappointed to discover that the caricatures are quite accurate.)

At dConstruct I reflected that this community of people reawakened my hunch that diversity is vital rather than just preferable: otherwise you end up with ‘group think’ where no one’s questioning why we ‘twitter’, blog, fiddle endlessly with iPhones or buy Moo cards.

One fault I think we geeks/internetists/dotcommers or whatever you want to call us have as a group (and it’s one of my favourite riffs and certainly deserving of a post to itself) is that it’s assumed that the mass-market (that is usually essential to commercial success) is exactly like us, doing what we do. And as anyone who has spent time teaching their parents to use Skype or observed a usability test will know, it’s simply not true. But that’s a discussion for another day.

So when I saw the Last.FM charts a few weeks back, I immediately thought: ‘It’s the dConstruct charts.’ And then on closer inspection it dawned that I was listening to most of this stuff. Cripes. This is the geeky white boy hit parade. (Although, I must say at this point that I don’t do Coldplay.)

It’s all good fun. Check it out. But it did rather make me wonder why I use Last.FM. I like it. But all it does for me is make me worry what people will think about what I listen to. Which reminds me: I must delete Will Young. I can’t have listened to him 36 times. And I reckon everyone’s deleting Will Young and only leaving the cool stuff.

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