Sometimes we just want to get a simple overview of the types of things people are saying. In the case of our SoundCloud analysis, we want to know what people are saying about each other’s tracks.
We’ve made use of http://www.wordle.net/ word clouds to get an overview: what words are people typically using in comments on SoundCloud? Are they positive? descriptive? critical? irrelevant?
This word cloud shows the most commonly used words (once like ‘the’, ‘and’ etc are removed). The size of the word relates to how often the word appeared in a comment on a user’s track. We can see in full technicolour the generally positive nature of the comments. Words like ‘great’, ‘like’, ‘nice’, ‘good’ and ‘love’ all appear very prominently.
This cloud does only show individual words, not phrases, so in places it can be a bit misleading. This means we have needed to do more sophisticated analysis as well, which we’ll report separately. For example, the word ‘shit’ in the word cloud could mean negative comments, but mostly we see it in the comments as ‘good shit’ or something similarly positive. Taking this as a starting point, though, what we have is a snapshot of the typical words being used in SoundCloud comments.
Fascinating! You know, the first thing that struck me about this was how friendly all the vocabulary was – I hate to think what a wordcloud of YouTube comments would look like by comparison. And I’m wondering whether this goes back to SoundCloud’s origins as a site for musicians to use when collaborating. The sort of aggression that we see all the time on YouTube would have no place in a jam session, so maybe it has no place on SoundCloud either.
On the other hand, something that’s bothering me more and more as I look at that picture is how masculine the terms of address are: ‘man’, ‘bro’, ‘mate’, and ‘dude’ are all pretty prominent. Which reminds me of the panel discussion at the public engagement event we did: Slackk said that two of the most highly regarded producers in his scene are women, and that the crowd at the clubnight he organises is usually about 40% female, but that everyone who interacts with him on SoundCloud seems to be male.
So SoundCloud is definitely friendly, but it’s not necessarily a kind of friendliness that includes everyone all of the time. Maybe that too goes back to its roots, and to cultural assumptions about who musicians are and how they ideally interact with one anther.