Ayn Rand Would Hate the New Spotify Video Feed
In the opening chapter of Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead, protagonist Howard Roark tries to explain to the flummoxed dean, who’s kicking him out of college for his heterodox views on architecture, why the Parthenon is a badly designed building.
In short, the Greeks didn’t appreciate the novel qualities of the new building materials they were working with. And that original sin of architecture was committed again and again.
“Your Greeks took marble and they made copies of their wooden structures out of it, because others had done it that way. Then your masters of the Renaissance came along and made copies in plaster of copies in marble of copies in wood. Now here we are, making copies in steel and concrete of copies in plaster of copies in marble of copies in wood,” Roark says.
This broadside against architecture’s slavish devotion to convention didn’t end up moving the dean. Roark’s monologue would have also been lost on today’s executives of social media and streaming companies, who are all racing to sacrifice the distinctiveness of their platforms for a chance to be an even more successful TikTok clone.
This past week, music streaming service Spotify announced at an industry conference that they’d be revamping their app to include a new vertical video feed that would show users brief, seconds-long snippets of new, algorithmically selected songs and podcasts that they can save for later listening. Spotify executives have explicitly framed the move as an effort to compete with TikTok’s vertical feed of short, seconds-long videos, reports The Wall Street Journal.
So now, instead of searching for songs on your own, or maybe listening to a curated playlist, you can flip through 5-second snippets of sound played over truncated video. The ultimate listening experience.
It’s the latest, most baffling episode of the “TikTokification” trend sweeping social media. Every company wants to be the lowest common denominator of the attention economy, regardless of how ill-suited the change might be for the media their platform cut its teeth on.
Meta-owned Facebook now prominently features algorithmically selected “Reels” no user opted to see. One’s Instagram feed, also a Meta product, has become dominated by suggested video shorts too.
Snapchat—once largely a platform for users to direct message pictures to known acquaintances—has had its Spotlight feature for a few years now. YouTube has had its “Shorts” feed of vertical video since 2019.
To be sure, competitors copying each other in the hopes of
Article from Reason.com