Collectivism

Huffduffer was launched thirteen months ago. I almost missed the one year anniversary but for an astute huffduffer who pointed it out.

It’s been quite a year. Just over 2000 people signed up and huffduffed over five and a half thousand audio files. I’ve been tweaking the site fairly regularly—and blogging about it here—fiddling with forms, machine tags and sparklines.

Today I launched the biggest update to the site so far. I’ve added a type of social networking …kind of …not really.

Let me explain.

Right from the start, I was pretty sure that Huffduffer didn’t need to be Yet Another Social Network. The site was all about finding and listening to audio. If you wanted to listen to everything huffduffed by a particular person, you simply subscribed to their podcast. Simple.

I did offer a kind of low-level recommendation feature using tags. If you tag a file with for:username, it will show up as recommendation in the sidebar of that user’s profile. The for: syntax was something I shamelessly ripped off from Delicious.

When Brian was over to visit a while back, I was showing him that feature. He then went on to show it to Mike who, next time I saw him, said I get Huffduffer now; it’s a way for friends to put things into iTunes for me.

That really struck a chord with me. I realised that I needed to do more to allow for that kind of sharing on Huffduffer.

There are two problems with subscribing to individual podcasts from people on Huffduffer:

  1. If you subscribe to the podcasts of three different people and they all huffduff the same file, you will get that file three times.
  2. If you subscribe to the podcast of somebody else and they huffduff something that you have also huffduffed, you get an unnecessary duplication.

So, as of today, you can now subscribe to a podcast created by a collection of people. There won’t be any duplicates and the list won’t include anything that you have already huffduffed.

This is collective huffduffing.

To add someone to your collective, just click the + button on their profile. Subsequently clicking the - button, as you would expect, removes them from your collective.

You can take a look at everything huffduffed by my collective—and here’s the list of the people in my collective.

That’s pretty much it. You can create a collective and either subscribe to the resulting podcast or you can treat it as a pool of potential material for you to huffduff.

You can also drill down by tag. Here’s the tagcloud of my collective and here’s everything tagged with “psychology” in my collective.

Programming this (sort of) social functionality wasn’t too tricky. But once the code was written, I spent quite a while trying to figure out what to call it. I definitely wanted to avoid the inaccurate label “friends”.

Initially I chose the word “network”. But that sounds like it implies a degree of reciprocity. So I trawled through the thesaurus, trying to find a good word for the output of a group of huffduffers; a circle, a clique, a club, a clump, a cluster, a congregation, a coterie, a crowd, an ensemble, a flock, a gang, a league, a mass, a posse, a society.

I could have left it to the wisdom of all-sorts but I ended up settling on the word “collective”. That’s because it’s a good word for describing the people (the collective) and the (collective) output. It works as a noun and an adjective. Also, it has a nice mid twentieth century socialist ring to it.

If you’re already on Huffduffer, try creating your own collective—the link to “similar people” on your profile page is a good place to start. If you aren’t already on Huffduffer, you’ll need to sign up to start enjoying the benefits of collectivisation.

As always, your feedack is welcome.

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