What Makes a Quality Playlist?

Earlier this evening I made a “Genius playlist” on my iPhone from White Town’s song “Your Woman” and it turned out surprisingly well, considering all the music was automatically selected by a computer algorithm in a matter of 1 or 2 seconds. Steph commented on how much she was enjoying it, and Caleb danced the whole time. I was impressed.

I suppose methods used to measure the quality of a playlist are a much-debated thing. We could get into deep aesthetic discussions about how one song can lead into the next and bring the listener through “arcs”, and there’s nothing wrong with seeing playlists that way. But to me, there’s a simple beauty in playing the hits, straight up, without any pretentiousness to it. We got pretty close to that here. I really love about 20 of these 25 songs, even if most of them hail from deep throwback territory.

  • White Town – “Your Woman”
  • Cake – “Never There”
  • The Cardigans – “Lovefool”
  • EMF – “Unbelievable”
  • Junior Senior – “Move Your Feet (Radio Edit)”
  • Beck – “Where It’s At”
  • U2 – “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me”
  • Thomas Dolby – “She Blinded Me With Science”
  • Cut Copy – “Lights & Music”
  • Cake – “Short Skirt/Long Jacket”
  • They Might Be Giants – “Birdhouse in Your Soul”
  • Simple Minds – “Don’t You Forget About Me”
  • Cold War Kids – “Hang Me Up to Dry”
  • Phoenix – “Everything Is Everything”
  • Shannon – “Let the Music Play (David Delano, Dirty Lou & Swedish Egil Remix)”
  • Hot Chip – “Over and Over”
  • Yello – “Oh Yeah”
  • Beck – “Devils Haircut”
  • Scissor Sisters – “Take Your Mama”
  • Madonna – “Beautiful Stranger (William Orbit Radio Edit Version)”
  • Radiohead – “Karma Police”
  • Gorillaz – “19-2000”
  • Cut Copy – “Hearts On Fire”
  • The White Stripes – “My Doorbell”
  • The B-52’s – “Rock Lobster”

Perhaps the perfect playlist would use the Genius feature as a starting point, and then take manual tweaking and editing to bring it to perfection.

Parenting Methods Contrasted

A conversation from earlier today highlighted the difference between my semi-paranoid approach to parenting and Steph’s more relaxed, “wing it” method.

Caleb, Steph and I were in Caleb’s room with the lights off, playing with one of Caleb’s baby toys we had just brought out from storage. Caleb laid under it as its lights flashed quickly to music. Then:

Josh: “Boy, I hope he’s not epileptic. This would be a bad toy in the dark.”
Steph: “Well, if he is, he’s already laying on the floor, so that’s good.”

For the record, I like Steph’s method better.

Desiring God Audiobook – Free!

I am still struggling to decide whether to say that this post is intended mostly for Christians.

I will say this: it is my personal opinion that the writing of John Piper may be considerably thicker than the writing to which many people are acclimated. Thicker theologically, thicker in structure, etc. Having said that, the reward of understanding this writing is easily worth the additional effort, even if you are not a “religious person.” Consider it seriously. His words have changed my life, and I want to share them with you whatever your religious background might be.

John Piper’s most widely recognized book is Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist. And to the end of sharing these precious words with you, I’m happy to pass on the information that christianaudio.com is offering the unabridged audiobook of Desiring God for free for the next two weeks! Just follow that link, set up your account on the site, use the coupon code shown on that page, and you’re done without paying a cent. No tricks.

Enjoy! Let me know what you think of the book. I’m about 80 minutes in right now, and really enjoying it so far.

Cthalloween Postmortem

Cthalloween officially ended tonight about 45 minutes ago, and it was a ton of fun! Many thanks to our organizers @jaybushman, @kriskowal, @segphault, and yours truly, @joshlewis.

A few stats:

  • We had over 1000 tweets during the event itself, not to mention several hundred before and after the official start and end times.
  • 133 people tweeted about Cthalloween in total.
  • Our top-volume tweeter was @JimGleeson with 255 tweets! What can I say? Wow. That’s 4.5 times more tweets than the #2 in volume.
  • The top five in volume after Jim were @Servantofproces, @officergleason, @falconesse, @theatermonkey, and @wordwill. Nice work, guys.
  • @arstechnica was kind enough to tweet about our game and give us a few more players.

If you had a favorite tweet, a good link, or an observation about the event, post it in the comments and enlighten us all!

Update: It is crucial to mention that our event’s fantastic, green-tentacled “Twitterthulhu” icon was created by none other than John Kovalic of Dork Tower fame, and sponsored by gameplaywright.net. Many thanks!

If you find yourself craving raw data (and c’mon, who doesn’t?) we have some good news for you! Download this zip file to get a raw SQLite and MySQL dump of every Cthalloween-related tweet. Pick your database flavor and have a swim in the data. Hooray!

Tomorrow! Twitter + Cthulhu = Cthalloween

Twitter + Cthulhu = Cthalloween

Last year, we orchestrated War of the Worlds 2.0 on Twitter. Many people had fun, and Wired wrote about it.

You didn’t think we’d stop there, did you? No, of course not. You’re a reasonable person.

I know many of you may be unfamiliar with the work of H.P. Lovecraft. That’s perfectly OK. In fact, here, let me help you.

This weird fiction author created many strange and frightening things. And amongst them, a horrible creature that has taken the world of sci-fi horror by storm. This creature’s name is Cthulhu. This Halloween, Cthulhu and his evil buddies are coming back, and you can play along at home. We’re calling this open-ended fiction game “Cthalloween.”

If you’d like to participate or follow along, you’ll find the Cthalloween wiki and @cthalloween on Twitter to be of great service in your endeavors.

Enjoy! And… do try to stay sane, OK?