The line to try Mailbox, the new iPhone app for managing your inbox, is long. Really, really long.
I signed up the day it went live in the App Store, on February 7, and finally made it to the front of the line this morning after two weeks of patient line-waiting.
While I was waiting, I’d occasionally open the app to see my place in the queue, and think — what if the line was real?
Imagine an ever-growing line of weary people fiddling with their phones, sprawling off into the distance. How long would the line be?
If you signed up right now, you’d find yourself at the end of a line with 807,896 people ahead of you.
They’re letting people in at a near-constant rate of 800 per hour, or just over 13 people per minute.
Let’s assume that people standing in line take up an average of two feet of space, from back to back with room for personal space.
The line stretches over 300 miles into the distance. To put it in perspective, that’s further than London to the outskirts of Paris. It’s 30 miles longer than Hollywood to Las Vegas. It spans from the Bronx to Portland, Maine.
But it’s moving! Slowly. At about 0.3 miles per hour. You’re shuffling along at just over five inches per second.
At the current rate, you’ll make it to the front of the line in about 42 days.
I hope you brought a charger.
After four weeks topping the Billboard Hot 100, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’s “Thrift Shop” was replaced this week by Baauer’s “Harlem Shake,” the song that inspired the Internet meme.
As I wrote last month, Macklemore is only the second unsigned artist in Billboard history to reach the #1 slot, the first in two decades.
And now, with a new #1, another record’s broken: Baauer’s “Harlem Shake” is the first song from a largely unknown artist to debut at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Since 1958, only 21 songs have ever debuted at #1. Of those 21 songs, only four were from artists appearing on the Hot 100 for the first time, all from artists with extensive mainstream media exposure — three American Idol contestants (Clay Aiken, Fantasia and Carrie Underwood) and a popular artist going solo (Lauryn Hill). Source: Billboard.
I’d wager this is another first: “Harlem Shake” is the only song to ever debut at #1 on the Hot 100 without significant radio or TV airplay. This is solely an Internet phenomenon, gone deeply mainstream.
This is in no small part because of major changes incorporating YouTube views into the Billboard Hot 100 formula, introduced this week in response to the viral success of “Gangnam Style.”
This week, a report surfaced that Nielsen will start tracking YouTube and other digital plays too.
Billboard and Nielsen are just acknowledging a long-overdue reality. Radio and cable aren’t the future, and if you’re focused on tracking them, you’re looking at an ever-shrinking window of behavior.
But seriously, who cares what Billboard and Nielsen think anyway? Aren’t the charts irrelevant? For most purposes, probably.
But like winning an award, chart success is a symbol of reputation. Recognition from a reputable source tracking sales or viewership opens doors for artists, especially important if you’re independent.
It’s one thing for Amanda Palmer to raise a million dollars from Kickstarter, but having her album debut in the Billboard top ten shows that there’s demand beyond her most hardcore early supporters. This gives her team the power to negotiate everything from distributors to concert venue contracts.
And when other artists see that indie artists can find legitimate mainstream success on their own, others will follow. This is already happening on a small scale, but it’s only going to get accelerate.
A couple weeks ago, I went to see Ben Folds Five’s reunion tour here in Portland:
Just saw an unsigned indie trio from North Carolina that crowdfunded their new album. These boys are going places! twitter.com/waxpancake/sta…
— Andy Baio (@waxpancake) February 6, 2013
I joked about it on Twitter, but I’m not sure many knew I was serious. The reformed Ben Folds Five is unsigned.
After releasing their first three albums on Sony, Ben Folds Five decided to fund their album on Pledge Music and release it independently.
They easily could’ve released it through a label — Ben Folds is still signed to Sony/Epic for his solo work and Darren Jesse through Bar/None. Why do it all on their own?
But I was starting to feel guilty about ignoring it, so I added some new tools for exploring the archive of 650+ games, sketches, and silly experiments.
This surfaced a whole bunch of interesting games I hadn’t seen, so I freshened up the featured section with some new picks.
Playfic was always intended to be an experiment, yet another tool of creative expression and a quick way for people to experiment with Inform 7. I really wasn’t expecting much out of it, but I’ve been happy to see people slowly discover the community and find new uses for it.
Update: Releasing any platform for creative expression often comes with unintended consequences. For Playfic, one of the biggest surprises was seeing it used by educators, something I never intended.
Most recently, I just discovered this high school teacher using Playfic to teach interactive fiction in the classroom. I was a little stunned to see a room full of high school students playing interactive fiction for the first time on iPads, starting with Cooper’s first game:
Games being created by high-school students and played by high-school students. How awesome is that?