I’m a lyrics guy. Sure, I love a catchy beat and a good hook, but I don’t really love music unless the lyrics grab me too. These days, when I find a song I like, the first thing I do is look up the lyrics on RapGenius to hear what they really mean.
For example, I’ve loved Sia’s music for years, and she just released a new single, Chandelier. Here’s the music video.
Incredibly catchy, and at first I thought the chorus was “1,2,3 1,2, 3, 3.” (I do love Sia, but sometimes she slurs her words.) So off I went to the Chandelier lyrics on RapGenius, and it turns out that they’re “1, 2, 3 1, 2, 3 drink.”
And the more I read of the lyrics, the more hooked I get on the song. It’s a catchy, dark song about drowning your crappy life in booze, pretending that things are awesome for now. People are going to be dancing to it all over the world, and they’re not even going to catch the dark undertones about what life is really like.
Over at RapGenius, click on any of the lyrics and you’ll read interpretations of the lyrics. It’s kinda like Wikipedia, but just for annotations of documents. People can write up their own suggestions of what the lyrics mean, other people can improve them, and the highest rated ones end up surfacing for everyone to see.
And it gets even better – they support verified annotations from the musicians! Sia herself annotated some of the lyrics:
On the left are the song lyrics, and the highlighted phrase is the one I’ve clicked on. At the top right, you see Sia’s annotation, and below that, the start of the highest rated community annotation. They often include additional fun stuff like animated gifs.
RapGenius’s UI is wildly addictive, and it brings you closer to the artists and their music.
That’s exactly what we need for tech documentation.
Imagine a Microsoft SQL Server Books Online that supported community annotations, voting, and agility.
Sure, BOL has included a “Community Additions” footer for a while, but it’s not much more than a comments section, and comments just aren’t a good way of surfacing data. There’s no voting, no editing, and no pruning, so you end up with spaced-out illegible garbage like this:
We’re not going to get RapGenius for IT Documents overnight, and RapGenius may not be the company that brings it. RapGenius has had plenty of moral challenges and business struggles, and their business model itself has copyright problems. There’s probably no way they could instantly absorb Books Online content without getting into a legal battle. But eventually, just as Microsoft has already adopted “Community Additions” in BOL, we’ll end up with a vibrant, living documentation ecosystem where users share knowledge faster.
I love living in the age of Wikipedia – especially being old enough to remember pre-Wikipedia, and seeing the difference afterwards.