Dec 6th, 2011 @ 10:02 pm

Cause and Effect: Twitter + Radio?

I’m a critic. I critique things to expose their weak points, to examine how strong ideas are at their joints, at their connecting places. That’s where ideas always fall apart. I tried to explain this concept to a friend of mine who came up with a terrible idea for a Twitter account: Tweet the Radio.

Basically, as she explained it, she found it annoying that she would tune to a local radio station only to listen to the tail end of one of her favorite songs and if she had only known about that song she could have listened to it. Thus the idea was formed to “Tweet the Radio.” Now, there are a million options for listening to your favorite songs pretty much anytime you want to — My God, we’ve got Spotify, Google Music, iCloud and Pandora just to name a few.

The Social Radio makes a radio station out of your Twitter feed.

After all, at least part of the experience of radio these days is the spontaneity behind not having control over what you’re listening too. Tweeting the radio would give people more control over what they were listening, which I still argue is a bad idea because it misses the whole point. And thus two good ideas separably, Twitter and Radio, become melded together into a horrible, twisted Frankenstein of an idea that would crash and burn immediately after take off.

The Social Radio has a few other options for lists and trends, but it isn't much to write about.

Contrast this idea with an interesting new app called The Social Radio, which blends the idea of Radio and Twitter together in an interesting and unique way. Again, I’m a critic and on its face The Social Radio sounds like a dumb idea — an app that turns your Twitter stream into a radio station of sorts. Even as you start to use this app, you’ll find yourself feeling skeptical and saying “Why wouldn’t I simply look at my Twitter feed?” But The Social Radio is meant to be a passive activity — something you listen too when you’re working or doing another rote activity.

Not everyone will want to use The Social Radio, but you might.

The Social Radio does its best to simulate a faux radio station created just for your Twitter account. The app fills in dead air with generic, but realistic, radio station transition music in between the app broadcasting to you all the goings on of your Twitter-verse. Don’t expect professional voice overs, while the female voice, to me, sounds especially good the male voice at times sound exactly like the built in text-to-speech voice in Windows, which gives everything a robotic impersonal sound.

Surprisingly though, the app often correctly announces user names and the subjects of tweets (although I didn’t like that it reads every pointless hash tag). The Social Radio should, in theory, integrate with an existing music collection but the app really just has shortcut to whatever app you use as a music player. The result is that your music plays over top of The Social Radio, which becomes annoying and hard to control.

Not everyone is going to love this app, and I’m certainly not going to be using it all the time. But The Social Radio adds just enough of something new and enjoyable to Twitter to make it at least worth a download.

Free: The Social Radio

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