A few years ago, George Packer wondered why many of the latest tech “advances” were almost invisible to large parts of the population who fell outside of their target demographic. “It suddenly occurred to me,” he wrote in the New Yorker, “that the hottest tech start-ups are solving all the problems of being twenty years old, with cash on hand, because that’s who thinks them up.”
Packer’s piece was about Silicon Valley and San Francisco in particular, but San Francisco is now everywhere, almost every urban city is San Francisco, just like how every city was Brooklyn before they evolved into San Francisco. The “city of the future” that Packer described in 2013 is pretty much indistinguishable from anywhere.
“San Francisco is a place where we can go downstairs and get in an Uber and go to dinner at a place that I got a restaurant reservation for halfway there,” Dave Morin told Packer. “And, if not, we could go to my place, and on the way there I could order takeout food from my favorite restaurants on Postmates, and a bike messenger will go and pick it up for me. We’ll watch it happen on the phone. These things are crazy ideas.”
Here’s one more crazy idea, born from the same impulse to solve the problems of being 20 years old with cash and an almost sociopathic divergence from society and culture. PSLY is an app developed in the kinder, friendlier San Francisco called “Toronto.” It’s an app designed to streamline requests from clubgoers to DJs.
This is not a joke. Someone was sitting in a club and actually decided that being a mere prick wasn’t bad enough: they needed to harness the power of the smartphone and 50 people with an app in order to become a bigger one.
blogTO has a lead that is so antithetical to club culture it almost reads of a parody. Imagine the level of estrangement from what DJ culture means that you could write this:
We apparently failed these people. Badly.
With PSLY, this “problem” is “solved” by voting. The DJ – paid primarily to read a crowd, mind you – is now transformed by app culture into a literal jukebox.
Ryan Middleton at Magnetic has a pretty thorough rundown on how this misses the mark.
I can’t even mount a sense of outrage, though. It’s too funny. Even the tagline for the app – “Curate the Experience” – sounds like it was shit out of a Silicon Valley “creative retreat” attended by five guys with MBAs. Some people walked into a club and felt like they needed the power of crowdsourcing to tell the DJ what to play. When the DJ ignored them, they created an app to “make their voice heard.” That happened.
It’s not an app – it’s a comedy sketch. It misses the mark of what DJ culture is about by ten miles. It’s nowhere in the building. This shouldn’t be either, but then I live in San Francisco. This is what we wanted.