A Collaborative Bootleg Database

Dylanbase is an “unofficial Bob Dylan Bootleg Database.” Not unlike a wiki for Dylan fans, there’s a user-constructed database of Dylan’s concert history that can be searched by song, location, and so on. Registered users have their own pages on the site and anyone can add to and edit the database. The site is run by an American in Copenhagen who describes the page’s purpose this way:

The basic idea of the site is to build a structure so that Dylan fans can get a handle on this mountain of information, and create a giant bubbling information center full of setlists, reviews, comments, trading lists, quotes, ticket info, etc. The site is dependent on people logging in and doing just that. In the first two years of the site, people have submitted 11000 track listings, 1400 reviews, and almost 800 albums.. Thanks! As I’ve expanded Dylanbase, I have tried to balance the needs for user privacy with a way to structure the information. So to provide information to the site, you now need to be registered. I know this is kind of annoying, but basically it’s the only way I don’t have to constantly police the content.

Another thing- If you are looking to buy Dylan bootlegs; sorry, I can’t help! Try looking on the newsgroup Rec.Music.Dylan. I am not a bootleg dealer, and won’t be able to point you to one.

You’ll notice that there are no ads or anything on this site. This may change someday, as there are significant costs in hosting the site, and a hefty weekend time investment! If you want to support the site, knicknacks in the mail are very much appreciated! :)

I can’t even imagine how complex it must be to even get Dylan’s history straight if you weren’t there all along, let alone try to sort through the varying versions of Dylan songs to be found out there. This seems like a great resource and a great example of how fans will build collective intelligence resources that go so far beyond what any individual or even small group of fans could do on their own, and how they will do it as labors of love.

100,000 Fans Can’t Be Wrong

When you think “fans” you may not think “Yacht Racing!” but like NASCAR, international yacht racing has a scene all its own. The BMW ORACLE racing team has a team blog where they can keep fans, friends, and family near. The blog recently celebrated the 100,000th visitor writing:

We really have something to celebrate — in less than two years, and with just two months to the start of the Louis Vuitton Cup, the BMW ORACLE Racing Team has passed another milestone: the 100,000th visitor to the Team Blog. But it’s not just this figure that really puts a smile on our faces, it’s the incredible amount of positive feedback which we have received since the Blog was launched on 14th June 2005.

The huge wave of comments and reactions received over the last 18 months suggest that this special insider view helps to explain the popularity of the Blog. That’s what the comments have said about our unique online offer, frequently alongside the wish that there were more websites out there devoted to the America’s Cup. I am especially delighted to hear that kind of feedback as it shows we were right to go down this new road of online communications.

With the official Team Website and the Team Blog, we have been able to provide a much broader spectrum of information and enabled fans to really get up close and personal with the team.

Another good example of how centers of attention can connect with fans on a more personal level and enhance the fans’ sense of connection and (in this case) the team’s sense of fan support.

Book Fans Get A Widget of Their Own

Here’s an interesting effort to make books — you know those things with covers and pages inside and no bits or bytes included? — sexy to social networking kids. HarperCollins had announced:

an innovative campaign to promote titles online through its digital warehouse. The Browse Inside widget enables fans and authors to embed sample pages of their favorite books directly onto social networking sites and blogs, marking the first time a syndicated reader for books has been available online.

“The Browse Inside widget is the most recent marketing tool we have developed using the capabilities of our digital warehouse to market our titles to the MySpace generation online,” said Brian Murray, Group President, HarperCollins. “We are extending our reach beyond the HarperCollins site to where many potential book buyers visit – on social communities, blogs or author sites.”

The widget provides simple code that can be copied and placed on a profile or blog. Currently, the standard browsable sample pages that are available include the covers, front matter, back matter and first three pages of chapters one and two.

“The Browse Inside widget – when spread through online communities – is today’s equivalent of picking up a book off of a friend’s coffee table and glancing through it,” said Josh Kilmer-Purcell, New York Times bestselling author of I Am Not Myself These Days (Harper Perennial). “It’s my electronic calling card to online communities.”

To harken back to the Robinson study about time use I mentioned the other day, it does seem that internet users in general do read more than people who don’t use the internet, but whether the “MySpace generation” is yearning for a book widget, I don’t know, but I bet enough are to make it at least interesting. With the HUGE exception of fans writing fan fiction based on books (Harry Who?), and the odd blogger blogging books, it has always seemed to me that print publishing has not made good inroads into the online communities of internet users. The basic principles of going where the buyers are rather than waiting for them to come to you and giving the people already into what you do the tools to tell others about it in engaging ways is certainly right on, but whether this will be the viral electronic calling card they hope for or just a cute gizmo for a few die-hards remains to be seen.

Make Your Own Lost Pantry

A nice example of fans appropriating pop culture on the net: Over on the blog Insanely Great News, Lost fans have created PDF labels that replicate the food containers from the show and put them up to share with other Lost fans. As they say, while preparing for a Lost party:

… we realized that normal food wasn’t gonna cut it tonight. We wanted to eat like Hurley and drink like Desmond, and thus was born the Lost Label Project – an effort to make our pantry look way more like this.

And because the best part of making something cool is sharing it, we created a downloadable Label-Maker kit. Just grab this PDF, print it out, tape it to some beer bottles, and drink to your hearts content. Change the words and turn everything you own into a Dharma ration!

The comments expressing gratitude, telling how they used the labels, and critiquing their choice of barcode, are a succinct demonstration of how fans use pop culture materials to serve one another and as material for play.

A Brief Interlude of Fandom

Today I ran across a quote someone was using in her Last.fm ‘about me’ profile from Nick Hornby’s 31 Songs:

Songs are what I listen to, almost to the exclusion of everything else. I don’t listen to classical music or jazz very often, and when people ask me what music I like, I find it very difficult to reply, because they usually want names of people, and I can only give them song titles. And mostly all I have to say about these songs is that I love them, and want to sing along to them, and force other people to listen to them, and get cross when these other people don’t like them as much as I do…

… which really struck me because right now I am in the midst of a mad passionate sonic love affair with the eclectic collection of songs that is Radiola by The Fine Arts Showcase (aka Gustaf Kjellvander) and I just want to force you all to listen to those songs until you feel what I feel when you hear them. I will refer you to their Malmö, Sweden-based record label’s page for them, where you can stream their songs in glorious Last.fm stereo streams and admire the newly unveiled web design work of Slivka while you’re at it.

In an effort to have some content other than personifying this blog’s topic by using the internet to gush effusively about how you All Need To Hear This Record Now, I will point out my irritation that their own website is totally lame — it has very little information or content, calls a “guestbook” a “forum” and, worst of all, refers you to a MySpace page, where there’s more content and a b-side can be streamed (ok, but why not let us stream it on your own site?). At least the official site gives his email address (would he write back?). I understand the need to have a MySpace presence, but it shouldn’t be any musician’s primary internet presence. The site under your own domain name should have at least as much to offer. Gustaf, I’m yours, don’t send me to MySpace.