Kid is an Adult.zip

Just got a pri­vate mes­sage on Last.fm from intu­itionor­phan, sub­ject “I hope this makes sense to you,” body “I have an earnest desire to change the world,” with a Medi­aFire link to a file named “Kid is an Adult.zip.” I’m cer­tain the file con­tains some­thing bad, but I’m curi­ous about which or what kind of bad thing it is. None of those phras­es turns up any rel­e­vant results on Google.

Alphabetization: Part II

First, some good news: Song­bird is now in pub­lic beta! It’s amaz­ing how sta­ble things have got­ten just over the last six months. And, sig­nif­i­cant­ly, it now fea­tures a Play­back His­to­ry API, which by the looks of things allows devel­op­ers access to the entire play his­to­ry of any song in a library, some­thing that is cru­cial to the kind of deep library scav­eng­ing I’ve been pin­ing for.

Since I last wrote, every­thing I see or read seems to inspire my half-baked ideas about the bet­ter ways we can browse our unman­age­ably large music libraries. After telling a friend about these ideas, he said:

Yeah, it’s actu­al­ly real­ly frus­trat­ing. I inten­tion­al­ly keep the num­ber of artists on my iPod small so I don’t have to sort to find things I’m cur­rent­ly into.

Me too.

Then there are the peo­ple who are doing a lot of (real) work towards nov­el inter­faces like the (hypo­thet­i­cal) ones I’m describ­ing; Last.fm’s “Islands of Music” (explained here) demon­strates the kind of artist-sim­i­lar­i­ty topol­o­gy that would make brows­ing your library a more pleas­ant expe­ri­ence; Lee Byron explains in more detail how he devel­oped that Last Graph info­vis; nec­i­mal releas­es a Music Rec­om­men­da­tions exten­sion for Song­bird that promis­es to use Last.fm’s data to find with­in your library artists sim­i­lar to the one play­ing; and the Auro­ra project, part of the Mozil­la Labs con­cept brows­er series, depicts a rad­i­cal three-dimen­sion­al view of files and data with auto-clus­ter­ing, which, if applied to a music library, would be noth­ing short of incred­i­ble.

I’ve also thrown togeth­er a piti­ful lit­tle mock-up of what Song­bird might look like when you start it up with the kind(s) of exten­sions I’m hop­ing for:

The two core com­po­nents depict­ed are the Start Page and the Time­line View. The Start Page I feel would be seri­ous­ly valu­able, one of the ideas behind all these blath­er­ings of course being that one doesn’t always have a des­ti­na­tion in mind when open­ing their music library. The Start Page would offer a num­ber of con­ve­nient “jump­ing-off” points, pulling you into your library to explore it fur­ther — by artist sim­i­lar­i­ty, maybe, or by play his­to­ry prox­im­i­ty, after just a cou­ple clicks.

The Time­line View is a zoomable time­line, shown here zoomed to a dai­ly view. Zoom­ing out could show you albums played with­in recent weeks; then months, quar­ters, etc. These albums might be sort­ed by Peri­od­i­cal Impact, some­thing I explained in depth here; essen­tial­ly they would be sort­ed not by the raw num­ber of times they were played with­in any giv­en peri­od, but by how dis­tinct they were to that peri­od.

Even these mea­ger ideas are leagues ahead of what’s avail­able, and I’m not even a data ana­lyst. Just imag­ine how a library’s play his­to­ry data could be exploit­ed by some­body trained in these things.

Last.fm Seasonal Impact Indices

Everyone’s expe­ri­enced that thing where you’re lis­ten­ing to some­thing, and you think to your­self, “Holy shit does this remind me of fall 2004.” How strong­ly cer­tain music is cor­re­lat­ed with cer­tain peri­ods of your life depends on many things, includ­ing but prob­a­bly not lim­it­ed to when you first heard it, when you first liked it, and when your lis­ten­ing to it was most high­ly con­cen­trat­ed. So, for instance, in my case, most Destroy­er albums will recall times and places that are vague at best, and that depend most­ly upon first expo­sure rather than con­cen­tra­tion — this as a result of the fact that I lis­ten to every Destroy­er album all the time, approx­i­mate­ly.

Blueboy’s Uni­sex, on the oth­er hand, will prob­a­bly always remind me of the win­ter of 2006–7, as I lis­tened to it for the first time that sea­son, nine addi­tion­al times with­in that sea­son (rack­ing up about 150 tracks lis­tened, accord­ing to Last.fm), and vir­tu­al­ly nev­er again once spring hit.

Ever since I began sub­mit­ting lis­ten­ing data to Last.fm in Novem­ber of 2004, I’ve won­dered whether I’d ever enjoy direct access to all those num­bers. Then came Last.fm Extra Stats, mer­ci­ful­ly col­lect­ing all my lis­ten­ing data for me in a tab-sep­a­rat­ed file that can be pulled into Excel and manip­u­lat­ed to my heart’s con­tent. Here, as a small exam­ple of the data, are my top ten artists (by tracks lis­tened) from win­ter 2006–7, along with total lis­tens for each artist (since Novem­ber 2004) (now that I’m final­ly get­ting around to pub­lish­ing this post, all the fol­low­ing data is very old):

Win­ter 2006–7
Artist Win­ter (S) ↓ Total (T)
Trans Am 163 163
Blue­boy 148 163
The Luck­smiths 69 105
Ratatat 50 126
The Moldy Peach­es 49 51
White Flight 36 41
Tele­vi­sion Per­son­al­i­ties 35 35
Beach House 35 64
Revolv­ing Paint Dream 32 58
RJD2 31 52

Now for some method­ol­o­gy. Con­tin­ue →

Alphabetization Is Not Fit for Music Libraries

Wikipedia’s arti­cle on alpha­bet­i­za­tion explains:

Advan­tages of sort­ed lists include:

  • one can eas­i­ly find the first n ele­ments (e.g. the 5 small­est coun­tries) and the last n ele­ments (e.g. the 3 largest coun­tries)
  • one can eas­i­ly find the ele­ments in a giv­en range (e.g. coun­tries with an area between .. and .. square km)
  • one can eas­i­ly search for an ele­ment, and con­clude whether it is in the list

The first two advan­tages are things you almost nev­er need to do with music libraries. And the third has been sup­plant­ed by now-ubiq­ui­tous search box­es: if you know what you’re look­ing for, you search; and if you don’t, an alpha­bet­ized list is not the way to find it.

Web vision­ary Ted Nel­son (<mst3k>Dr. Ted Nelson?</mst3k>) has been para­phrased as point­ing out that “elec­tron­ic doc­u­ments have been designed to mim­ic their paper antecedents,” and that “this is where every­thing went wrong: elec­tron­ic doc­u­ments could and should behave entire­ly dif­fer­ent­ly from paper ones.” If the fold­er metaphor is inad­e­quate for dig­i­tal doc­u­ments, no won­der it’s so piti­ful at han­dling music. The prox­im­i­ty between pieces of music in a library should least of all be based on the first let­ter in a band’s name – it’s as arbi­trary as sort­ing them by the vocalist’s month of birth – yet this is how it’s uni­ver­sal­ly done.

Music library orga­ni­za­tion needs to be re-thought from the ground up. We need to con­sid­er how it is that peo­ple used to lis­ten to music before it was all on their iTunes. How are your CDs orga­nized (or dis­or­ga­nized) on your shelf? How are they orga­nized in your head? What is it that prompts you to lis­ten to what you lis­ten to when you lis­ten to it? And how can we use com­put­ers to adopt and enhance these ways of think­ing, rather than forc­ing us to think like com­put­ers? Con­tin­ue →

Template Feed/Archive URL Structures for Various Blogging Platforms (Updating)

Being still very inter­est­ed in web feeds, both prac­ti­cal­ly and philo­soph­i­cal­ly, I sub­scribe to them often. Occa­sion­al­ly I’ll find a site that seems as though it should have a feed, but con­tains no link to one with­in a meta dec­la­ra­tion or with­in the body of the site. Still, most con­tent gen­er­a­tors gen­er­ate feeds, regard­less of whether their users make the feed URLs pub­lic. In cas­es like this, it’s fun to poke around and see if I can’t guess the cor­rect URL.

The same goes for archives; cer­tain Blog­ger users, for exam­ple, appar­ent­ly turn archive links off, so all that’s eas­i­ly vis­i­ble are the last ten posts or so on the front page. But, of course, as is espe­cial­ly the case with some­thing as pre­fab as Blog­ger, the archives are acces­si­ble through a very pre­dictable URL schema.

And what about com­ment feeds? These are even more scarce­ly linked to, but in many cas­es do exist.

Here are the ones I know so far. I plan to update this post as I dis­cov­er more. This is as much for my ref­er­ence as it is for yours. So, book­mark it, and, y’know, sub­scribe to the com­ments. If you know of any oth­er schema­ta, please com­ment. And if you’d like to cre­ate your own feeds from any site, give Feed43 a shot. It’s a bit tough to learn, but I’ve suc­cess­ful­ly made sev­er­al use­ful feeds with it.

MySpace

  • All blog posts: http://blog.myspace.com/blog/rss.cfm?friendID=[frien­dID]

Con­tin­ue →

Weekly Top Album Art

Wow, I can’t believe I was able to do this.

http://www.kilobitspersecond.com/topalbumart.php?user=

Just tack your last.fm user­name onto the end of that url to gen­er­ate the cov­er art for your most lis­tened-to album of last week. Pret­ty cool.

Bands and albums with amper­sands don’t work at the moment. urlen­code() doesn’t seem to do the trick. Any the­o­ries?

last.fm Weekly Album Chart Feeds

For a long time, last.fm has linked to a pur­port­ed week­ly album chart feed on their web ser­vices page. Because I find this much more inter­est­ing than the week­ly artist and track charts, I was hap­py to find today that these feeds have final­ly become active. Just replace “top­down­jim­my” with your user­name in this url:

http://ws.audioscrobbler.com/1.0/user/topdownjimmy/weeklyalbumchart.xml

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, this won’t reflect your lis­ten­ing accu­rate­ly if you’re in the habit of lis­ten­ing to leaked albums. For what are cer­tain­ly legal issues, last.fm plays dumb that these albums even exist, fail­ing to report them in charts even though the track and artist counts are updat­ed accord­ing­ly.

My next step is to use the url embed­ded in the feed to scrape the Ama­zon­ian cov­er art from each album’s last.fm page. This would be cool to do even for the recent track feed, come to think of it.