the further adventures of

Mike Pirnat

a leaf on the wind

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Turntable.fm Spins Me Right Round

Awesomed

Let's be honest--I have a problem, and its name is Turntable.fm.

In case you haven't discovered it yet, Turntable is a social music discovery service that takes the form of a DJ party. You log in, join or create a room, pick some songs you like, then hop up on stage and, when it's your turn, impress everyone with your superlative musical taste. Every "awesome" vote gives you a point, which converts immediately into ego-boosting gratification and eventually into fancier choices of little cartoon avatar; too many "lame" votes and your song ends immediately and the spotlight moves to the next guy in the line. And down in the corner is a chat window, so that everyone in the room can interact, discuss, be silly, or help keep the room running smoothly.

Sometimes rooms have a permanent, genre-based theme; sometimes they do theme nights ("Death or Cake" is still one of my favorites); sometimes they're totally freeform. I really enjoy either doing themes or just riffing on whatever got played before me--the creative constraints can be demanding but ultimately very rewarding.

I first started hanging out in some small rooms with friends and coworkers, but soon discovered that Neil Gaiman would occasionally visit and thus I started gravitating to some of his rooms, which had collected a nice group of smart, open-minded, and polite folks. Neil doesn't seem to be on quite as often any more, and his rooms have died down, but core chunks of refugees seem to have banded together to start other rooms that are just as much fun. I've found myself quickly making new online friends that I look forward to "seeing" and spinning with regularly--much the same kind of bonds that I remember forming with the random strangers I'd meet when playing MUDs long, long ago.

Turntable is still in beta as I write this--you need to be Facebook friends with someone who already has an account in order to play. If you do choose to check it out, I'm on as "ExileJedi (@mpirnat)"; in the evenings, I'm usually in Scarytrousers' Laundry Service, and by workday I'm occasionally in AGI The Cave with coworkers. Now and then I'll start up ExileJedi's Epic Win, whose main rule is no songs under seven minutes. There are a few other dynamics I want to experiment with--a "Thunderdome" room with a two-DJ max for intense back-and-forth action, and probably a room capped at three DJs, as I've discovered that three players yields a surprising amount of joyful chaos.

This is a powerfully addictive and very fun service, and it stirs a particular feeling that I haven't felt since my glory days as DJ on WRUW--that pure, joyous rush of finding just the right thing to play is so, so gratifying. The immediacy of the feedback makes it all the more potent. It's eaten many of my waking hours, and frankly, most of my sleeping hours as well.

And, yes, when your favorite author gives you an awesome vote, it feels great.

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