Friday Feb 23, 2007

I remember when I was in high school I bought the album 'Pictures at an Exhibition' - it was one of those life changing events for me. ELP was a bridge between the world of rock, (which I loved so much) and the world of classical music (that I played). Keith Emerson was known for slipping in a phrase or a few bars from a classical piece. 30 years later I am still surprised and amused when I hear an orchestra play a melody that i first heard Keith play on his Hammond organ. (check out this list of Keith Emerson Musical Quotes). 35 years after they first played Pictures, ELP is remembered as being pompous, bombastic - but I don't think you'll find too many performances that are as exciting as this.


All Media Guide (home of All Music) is partnering with Avoca to allow people to interact by voice with their music collections.  According to this article in the Ann Arbor Business Review  AMG will provide pronunciations, nicknames and 'other details' about the songs that will be used by the speech recognition engine to allow for navigation and control.  Anyone who has tried to pick a specific song or artist on a 10,000 song iPod while driving knows how important a hands-free, eyes-free interface is for a long and happy life.  

 This paper:  A Comparison Between Spoken Queries and Menu-based Interfaces for In-Car Digital Music Selection provides a comparison between spoken queries and an iPod like interface for controlling a music player while driving a car.

Thursday Feb 22, 2007

Matthew Ogle of spoke at Future of Web Apps. Luckily for us, Suw Charman took some notes and posted them on Strange Attractor 

Some interesting tidbits:

  • has 15 million unique visitors per month
  • Openness is a key to web platform.
  • Tag cloud moderation -  when tag clouds became visible people started waging hate campaigns against specific artists such as Paris Hilton. 
  • Future of

    More: growth, streamable music, ambient findability - discover blogs and events more organically and contextually, more personalisation/things you can do with your data, need to get the data out in interesting ways

    Less: fewer interfaces - need to streamline, reduce barriers to entry - cold start when you join where the service knows nothing about you so need to improve that, fewer gradient

Wednesday Feb 21, 2007

Getcha Info! is a new blog devoted to digital music.  Getcha Info promises to deliver a different take on the digital music world, with a focus on (and I'm quoting here):

  • Revolutionaries (and Evolutionaries): I’m going to try to do at least 1 interview every couple of weeks with an individual who is shaking up or refining the digital music landscape.
  • Wholesomeness: I’m going to pay attention to intentions. Music attracts many folks who have noble intentions of spreading art, enjoyment, and self expression. I’ll try to focus on their voices.
  • Respect: It’s easy to get caught up in demonizing the other side in a debate. Digital music discussions can quickly spin into to heated debates where one side becomes law breaking pirates and the other side becomes backwards evil corporations. Most of the people I’ve met at labels and on the tech side are music lovers doing a job they hope has a positive impact. I’ll try to find common ground without being too much of an idealist.
  • Business perspective: Like it or not, it takes money to run these businesses. I’ll always try to allocate a couple of moments to the business behind the concepts for the artist, the founders, the investors and/or the labels.

Getcha  Info! has just published its first interview with Anthony Volodkin, the creator of the Hype Machine.  Check it out, it is a good read!

A while back I commented on how only a few of the Music 2.0 companies seem to be based in Silicon Valley.  Perhaps there's a reason for that.   In this Wired News Article, founder Martin Stiksel says:

"If would have started in Silicon Valley, it would already be very derivative and bland like most of the projects coming from (that) part of the world," said Martin Stiksel, co-founder of the social music service. "It's great to be here."

Tuesday Feb 20, 2007

Tim, the curator of LibraryThing, has a mega-post about tagging.  Tim compares the tagging systems of Amazon and LibraryThing and postulates why LibraryThing users have applied ten times the number of tags that Amazon users have, even though the number of LibraryThing users is so much smaller than Amazon users. Tim goes on to offer advice as to how to make an eCommerce tagging work (with a hint that perhaps it is not too late for Amazon can catch up if they can scrape together about $5.76)

Tim talks about the problem with 'opinion tags' especially when tagging is light. Tim points to the difference in tags for Ann Coulter's book 'Terrorism' - Amazon has user  tags like "craptacular," "evil" and "brain dead while LibraryThing's has tags like 20th century(1) 21st c.(1) america 1975-present(1) American History(1) cold war(2) commentary(2) Conservatism- I find it interesting that none of the LibraryThing tags are opinion based, while almost all of Amazon's tags are.  I think this may point more to a cultural difference between LibraryThing and Amazon's users.  Amazon has  a long history of cultivating  a culture of critique.  Amazon users are accustomed to and encouraged to offer their opinions about everything they see on Amazon.  Amazon's customers write reviews, they rate products, they make lists of products that they recommend. With this culture of critique it is not surprising that Amazon's tags are opinion-centered. LibraryThing, on the other hand, is more oriented toward people who want to organize their book collections.  With this culture of organization, we see tags that are more subject-oriented.  Amazon's tags are essentially one word reviews, while LibraryThings are one word descriptions.

Tim talks about why people tag without using the word selfish.  I think the best tagging systems (, delicious, and LibraryThing come to mind) work well because the prime motivation for tagging is a selfish one - people tag to organize their personal stuff (whether it is music, the web, or books).   A  system like or LibraryThing aggregates these thousands of selfish behaviors for the good of all.

It's clear from Tim's post that Tim spends a lot of time thinking about tagging.  I'm guessing that it is Tim's passion for tagging that is at the heart of the success of LibraryThing.  Tim is asking a lot of interesting questions about tagging - and he has the luxury of being able to try out his theories about tagging on a site with hundreds of thousands of users and millions and millions of tags  - that is a luxury that very few people have.

Badger is pretty cool, it uses Yahoo! Pipes to create a  badge  from an RSS feed suitable for inserting  into a blog post.  Here's a badger badge for  Duke Listens!  Pretty neat.  (via Boing Boing)
Duke Listens!
    get this for your page

    Monday Feb 19, 2007

    My presentation proposal for JavaOne:  Search Inside the Music: Using Signal Processing, Machine Learning and 3-D Visualizations to Discover New Music  has been accepted by the JavaOne program committee.  The SITM presentation has even made it into the JavaOne Session Preview Brochure among some really cool projects like JRuby,  the Apache Harmony project and NASA's 3D Earth Visualization project called World Wind.  I'm quite excited about going to JavaOne.  But of course, this means there's LOTS to do between now and May 8th.  Time to get to work!

    Photo by yuichi.sakuraba


    I saw in a recent post by Roumen that there is now a vi plug-in for Netbeans.  I've installed  it and have given it the once over.  It is really a quite faithful implementation of vi edit mode.   I can now use all of the finger macros that I've trained over the last 20+ years of typing into vi. So far, I'm really pleased with how it integrates with netbeans.  All of the netbeans goodness such as code coloring, completion, and formatting still work just fine with the vi plugin.   With thi jVi plugin, my code editing productivity just went up by 15%.    Thanks and Congrats to the jVi team!

    Sunday Feb 18, 2007 has had a recent site update. They've added a bunch of new features such as playlists,  recommendation radio for all users (not just subscribers), image quilts and more.   My favorite new features  is that the flash player now updates a user's 'now playing' information. This means that you no longer have to play music with the client to use the version of Snapp Radio.  Now you can use the flash player along with Snapp Radio.  

    Saturday Feb 17, 2007

    Check out the new blog  by Jean-François Im.  Jean-François is blogging about what it's like to be an intern at Sun Labs.  So far he seems to be liking it.   If this sounds like your cup of tea, then check out the Sun Labs Intern program. (and see what it is like at some other companies too).

    Steve Jobs started the most recent DRM volley with his 'Thoughts on Music' letter.  Fred Amoroso, CEO of Macrovision, one of the leading creators of DRM for media, returned the serve with his 'To Steve Jobs and the Digital Entertainment Industry'.  However, it may be a bit hard for someone who's not closely following the DRM debate to understand it all. Thankfully, the Daring Fireball is offering a reader's guide to the debate.  First there's the 'Reading Between the Lines of Steve Job's "Thoughts on Music"'.   which is a thoughtful dissection of Steve's letter and it's likely impact on the media industry.   Then there's  Translation From PR-Speak to English of Selected Portions of Macrovision CEO Fred Amoroso’s Response to Steve Jobs’s ‘Thoughts on Music’. which provides a helpful translation for the PR verbiage in the Macrovision letter. Some  examples:

    Macrovision:  I believe that most piracy occurs because the technology available today has not yet been widely deployed to make DRM-protected legitimate content as easily accessible and convenient as unprotected illegitimate content is to consumers
    Translation:  I have, to date, succeeded in convincing the entertainment industry that DRM can stop piracy.

    Macrovision:  Well maintained and reasonably implemented DRM will increase the electronic distribution of content, not decrease it.
    Translation:  I am high as a kite.

     Macrovision: We offer to assist Apple in the issues and problems with DRM that you state in your letter. Should you desire, we would also assume responsibility for FairPlay as a part of our evolving DRM offering and enable it to interoperate across other DRMs, thus increasing consumer choice and driving commonality across devices
    Translation:  I realize Apple is never going to work with Macrovision, so I have decided to insult you and your company by insinuating that your “Thoughts on Music” open letter was an expression of frustration at technical hurdles Apple just can’t figure out on their own.

     Thanks to Doug for the tip.


    Friday Feb 16, 2007

    Here's a nifty mashup of Pandora and eMusic - while you listen to music from Pandora, you can see the Artist page from eMusic for the current song.  Unfortunately, the mashup didn't work for me ... the Pandora stream would play just fine, but the eMusic pages never loaded.   I'll try again later.  Also, it looks like eMusic will be rolling out a few more mashups, including one for  

     What would be really nice would be for eMusic to roll out a web api to allow other mashups to work easily with the eMusic collection.  What do you say eMusic?  Give us an API!  (via 17 dots).

    Wednesday Feb 14, 2007

    Tim over at LibraryThing has posted a video called 'Introducing the Book'  - definitely worth a viewing.

    Sunday Feb 11, 2007

    I've been experimenting with deriving hierarchies from folksonomies.   I've been using the wonderful tag data from along with the search engine developed in the labs here that does all sorts of nifty things with similarity and clustering.  Here's a sample of a small section of a genre hierarchy generated automatically from the social tags.  (click the image to see a larger version).

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