Discord: Why Kanye West Turned To Chat App Users For Help | Technology


When Kanye West was putting the finishing touches on his new album Donda, he wasn’t content to rely solely on the ears of a few relatives for comment.

The rapper and producer hosted a series of listening events at stadiums across the United States, settling into the locker room at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Ga., To complete the album with producer Mike Dean, after performing it live for an audience of thousands. And then, when that wasn’t enough, Dean turned to another group of Kanye’s superfans: the collective minds of the WestServerEver Discord community.

Dean created an account on the service and released three early versions of the Hurricane track. Asking fans which version they preferred, the conclusion was almost unanimous, with almost 90% opting for a version with slight modifications to the original.

Despite its name, Discord has little to do with the music industry. Originally created as a tool for PC gamers to talk during multiplayer games, the service has evolved into a ghost social network for Gen Z, rivaling Twitter for users and marking culture and society.

For those not terminally online, Discord looks like a corporate chat app like Slack or Microsoft Teams if their user experience had been designed by an extremely overcaffeinated 17-year-old Counter-Strike gamer. Users can create and join servers, interest-based communities organized around a particular topic, and chat by voice or text with those around them.

The Discord app: perfect for people who want to indulge their weirdness. Photograph: Jaap Arriens / NurPhoto / Rex / Shutterstock

“So basically the way Discord seems to be working right now is that for every interest out there, there’s a Discord server,” says Ryan Broderick, Internet culture reporter and moderator of two Discord servers. around its Garbage Day newsletter.

“For example, I’m on the Hot Topic Discord server,” for the American clothing brand of the same name, “which is all about anime, which is weird. Mountain dew [a US soft drink] has an official Discord server which is actually quite good, I’m in that one too. At the height of the pandemic, I got very bored and joined several hyperpop Discords for kids who make techno music. Almost like 4chan was the mainstay of web culture, say 10 years ago, I see it as Discord now.

However, Discord’s interest-driven makeup makes it look completely different from previous online communities. Without the existence of a single, shared feed, nor the ability for the content to go “viral” in any way, it’s perfect for people who want the freedom to indulge their weirdness in any way. security. “I’ve noticed that the people who tend to use them are there because they’re fed up with what’s going on on sites like Twitter,” adds Broderick.

Without a centralized feed, Discord – like the Facebook groups or island subtitles on the social news site – can also be a haven for less palatable oddities. In 2018, the site purged a number of far-right communities from its servers, including Atomwaffen Division, Nordic Resistance Movement, and Iron March. But communities retreated, and last month, the Institute for Strategic Dialogue warned that “The discord could serve as an entry point for children to come into contact with extremist ideology.” Out of 24 far-right servers identified by the think tank, they found that the service “primarily acts as a hub for far-right socialization and community building.”

Discord, for its part, says its terms of service “specifically prohibit harassment, threat messages, or calls for violence” and that the company “investigates and takes immediate appropriate action against any reported TOS. [terms of service] violation by a server or user.

The company is gathering the necessary resources to take this type of action seriously. After surpassing 300 million registered users last year, it has pushed back acquisition attempts from Microsoft and Sony and instead raised $ 100 million at a valuation of up to $ 7 billion. “We are touched and honored by the growth we have seen among so many amazing and diverse communities that have made Discord their place to meet,” CEO Jason Citron said in a statement.

As for WestServerEver, Hurricane would become Donda’s first single and fifth track on the sprawling 27-song, 108-minute album – and Discord’s favorite version is the one that made it onto the album.


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