Performance and interaction on Soundcloud: Social remix and the fundamental techniques of conversation

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This paper applies the analytic practices of conversation analysis (CA) to the visible activities on the music sharing site Soundcloud. Rather than ask whether Soundcloud interaction is like talk, it is understood to be premised upon the combination of different ‘fundamental techniques’ (Manovich, 2007) of technology use and of conversational structuring practice. Audio presentation and textual comment are skilfully combined in the interface to form meaningful interaction through what Goffman (1974) terms layerings or laminations. A parallel is drawn between these ‘asynchronous’ activities and the practices of musical remix, or what is called social remix. In the case of Soundcloud, one fundamental technique is the technology-afforded creation of textual comments, which function in the interface as temporally and spatially positioned, sequentially relevant, next turns in relation to the musical performance. Here the working methods of naturalistic conversational interaction are transferred into the domain of online practices in a knowing way. Social remix speaks to opportunities for mundane, or lay, analytics afforded by playback control and repeated listening, and the knowing production and strategic deployment of conversational methods of sense-making for all practical purposes (Garfinkel, 1967). The analysis shows textual turns that function indexically as ‘single word assessments’, situated within the Soundcloud visualisation and act as immediate and spontaneous responses to the music, and ‘second assessments’ in which a second textual comment is sequentially linked to an earlier one without the need for temporal proximity. The ‘sequential integrity’ (Reed, 2001) of these textual activities are actively achieved. Both ‘techniques’ are used to show up the skilled production of meaningful layered action and interaction. In addition, these activities rest on the technological affordances of the Soundcloud application which allow for play, replay, and the layering of textual comments. Layering is one more ‘fundamental technique’; this time of remix practice, and hence this amounts to an additional transference of ‘fundamental techniques’ to online interaction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)82-98
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Pragmatics
Early online date18 Mar 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2017

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© 2017, Elsevier B.V. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy.

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