"It is true, and thus the question of whether it is sad or happy has no meaning whatever."
Bernhard Schlink

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Monday, January 09, 2006

Music Matching 

When you buy a CD on Amazon or almost anywhere else, you get the system's recommendations of other CDs you might like, based on how what you bought is categorized. Those categories are now based on sales statistics (55% of people who bought Kylie's latest also bought Madonna's, etc.), but new technologies are attempting to match songs based semantic descriptions of the actual musical content - timbre, tempo, etc. While this sounds like a brilliant scheme - and potentially good for exposing lesser-known artists in the process - I worry that it will lead to people digging themselves further into 'genre ghettos.'

I listen to an extremely wide range of music. I keep my X5 on all-folders shuffle at all times, looping through pop, punk, jazz, metal, hip-hop, funk, gogo, electronica and more. I do use Pandora sometimes, but the playlists get too repetitive for me. Not that it's playing the same songs over and over, but that everything sounds like everything else.

I wonder if there's a way to do the opposite of what Pandora and SIMAC are doing - that is, challenge people's tastes, not so shockingly as to suggest Pantera after the user selects Enya, but to push in that direction. "You've never heard of this band, or even this genre of music, but we think you should give it a go." That would be cool.

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