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One Fan, the Internet, and 24 Hours

Last week, the xx, a British indie pop band, released an online stream of their new album to just one fan. There was no news release, no facebook post, no website update – the only knowledge of this new album was in the hands of one loyal fan. After supposedly an hour of “hogging” the album, that fan shared his/her knowledge with a few friends online. What followed was something magical and unique to the digital age that we are now living in. Within hours, people on multiple continents knew about the album and were continuing to spread the music themselves. A network began to grow from that one person and his/her friends, and the repeated sharing of this new album. 24 hours later the site with the album crashed due to the heavy traffic. Millions of people were streaming the xx’s music, thanks to 1 fan, the internet, and 24 hours.

On the album’s website there is a visualization of how the album spread across the world, and it is fascinating to look at. It shows you connections between people who have shared the album and how far this album has spread in just over one week. The visualization shows you the web of sharing that this album went through. It is one little piece of the global friendship network, and just this piece is extremely extensive and powerful. Starting with just one person, this network extended across dozens of countries and multiple continents, simply through sharing on the internet.

Thanks to the internet and the digital age that we live in, all types of news, culture, and ideas can spread from one single person to the rest of the world in a matter of just a few seconds. The internet connects people to one another, and it also connects larger social groups together. Tweets can inform someone what has happened in just the time it takes to type out a sentence. The “share” button on Facebook or Twitter starts a journey through the massive network that the internet allows. This network is just a piece of the global friendship network, but it has enormous power for everyone using it. When a group like the xx is able to take advantage of that global network, it is amazing to see how powerful it can be.

The Visualizer:


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