Storyboard for final Interactive project…

1 05 2008

Ok. Bear with me here for a sec. The storyboard you’re about to see isn’t great in terms of imagery. I just whipped it up to help explain the path people will take in my anti-interactive interactive installation. The final one will be much much better. But before you take a look at it, let me explain my thought process and how this will all go down…

So I’ve got all the technical things working in Flash…motion detection that will not allow users to move through the scene unless they’re standing still…and a sound frequency listener (a la Max/MSP through FlashServer) that will allow people to interact with elements within the scene by fluctuating their voices at different pitches and volumes…I haven’t posted my earlier prototypes on this blog because they’re very simple and won’t work unless you use your webcam and microphone. But for those of you who have seen these earlier prototypes in class, you’ll remember the feeling of motion you felt while ‘traveling’ through the window, etc…keep that in mind when you see this storyboard, because that’s still the type of motion I’ll be using to move you through the scene. So now that I know I can get all the technical stuff to work, I’ve been trying to focus on what exactly the user will see – my visual language and what it will mean to people. Let me explain my thought process about that…

Basically, I want to guide people through a sort of quiet, meditative experience as they’re standing still. After much thought and several attempts to meditate myself, I came to realize that meditation is a sort of process. At least for me, it begins by becoming very aware of my immediate environment and the details that entails…but then I move past that to some sort of thought-space that is much larger and very real/sureal at the same time, and it comes to me bit by bit – one piece at a time. I travel through this space way ‘out there’ (but very real) for a time, but then must eventually come out of this state and back to my ‘reality’…which basically means that I come full circle and end up where I started at the beginning. It’s a process. When thinking about this process, I could relate it to Gestalt theory a bit (the whole is greater than the sum of its parts), and to the idea of relativity and, in some ways, existentialism. So I tried to keep that in mind for this storyboard…users experience each part and the whole thing at the same time.

So here’s how the storyboard works. It begins in a bedroom – a place that people associate with something that is quiet. It’s an environment we’re immediately familiar with. But then it moves past that and out the window where it follows rain upward into the sky. It then leads you closer to the raindrops until you actually go inside of one, where you’re surrounded by a prism of color. Moving through this color lands you to a bunch of balloons where you then follow one across the sky and eventually land at this huge ticking clock. The numbers on the clock begin falling off and you follow them downward where they eventually land in a sea. The current of this see then wash you across it until its wave slowly transition into bits of paper with writing on it. Currently, the writing says: “The universe is shaped exactly like the earth, if you go straight for long enough you’ll end up where you were…”. This paper then fades back into the bedsheets of the bed in the bedroom you first began at. Keep in mind while you’re going through this whole thing, you’ll be able to manipulate and interact with all the elements using your voice, thus encouraging people to hum or chant while they’re going through this sort of meditative experience. However, if they get too loud or noisy, everything they see will become extremely dissonant and ugly. Also, if they move, the scene will move backwards and take them back to the beginning unless they stop and stand still again so that they continue on.

Ok. Thanks for reading through all that. And now, here’s my somewhat (ok, mostly) ugly storyboard:

 

Yeah, it’s pretty bad (or confusing right now?). To be honest, I’m having a bit of a hard time with this. What I was trying to do is take people through a sort of narrative that is still abstract enough for them to interpret the way they want to. I know this scene is pretty complex, but if it’s too simple it won’t take users through a complete meditative process and it won’t be much of a story/narrative. Also, I wanted to incorporate a lot of elements that relate to meditation: intimacy, nature, water (as a symbol of life), light (and all the metaphors that come with it), and the idea of traveling through space and time and losing a sense of space and time.

…Does any of this make sense? Or am I totally crazy?

So basically what I’m struggling with now is how do I actually get people to use their voices? What cues can there be? How will they know?





Major Studio: Interactive…Final Project Idea & Precedence: Ambient Wall

8 04 2008

Ambient Wall

 

Idea: Create an interactive environment in Flash that is projected on a wall with which users can manipulate to create their own scene and soundscape.

 

Goal: To allow users to engage in an experience that will allow for self-reflection, relaxation, involvement with nature while taking part in generating an ever-evolving ambient environment. This installation isn’t meant for crowds to experience as they pass by…It’s meant to be in a quiet space where people have a chance to experience it in solititude.

 

Why, why, why?

-revisit the idea of what it means to take time for yourself to relax, meditate, reconnect with your roots in nature, find comfort, etc…and give users the opportunity to manipulate the experience

 

-expand upon all the stuff that already deals with this such as meditative videos, music, images, etc…they don’t allow the audience any agency in what they’re experiencing. Perhaps by giving users subtle ways of making the experience their own unique moment, it will generate better resonance and provide them with a way to transfer their own feelings/inclination into the piece.

 

-quite simply, to create something beautiful that allows people to take a solitary moment to themself and get away from reality for a bit

 

 

Motivations:

 

-Work with Flash…take Flash away from the computer screen and browser and capitalize on its ability to create complex interactive environments…learn how to work with sound and visuals in more complex ways through Actionscript

 

-Do something cool with the Wii remote (I’ve gotta at least once while I’m at Parsons…)

 

-Play off of the idea of creating ambience in a certain setting

 

-Work with the idea of creating mashups, both visually and audibly

 

-Make something pretty

 

-Give the user an intimate and personal experience

 

-Incorporate music that I love

 

 

Keywords:

-Flash
-Ambience
-Wii remote
-Nature
-Mashups
-Music visualizations
-Interactive music mixing
-Scene manipulation
-Evolving ecosystem
-Surreal experience
-relaxation
-solitary
-transcendentalism
-meditation
-melancholy
-traquility
-bittersweet
-whimsical
-stay/still
-peace
-ethereal
-ephemeral
-refreshing

 

 

 

 

 

Precedents

 

Inspiration:

 

-Arcade Fire: Neon Bible…Interactive Flash music video

http://www.beonlineb.com/click_around.html

 

 

-Soundscapes

 

 

 

-Artecnica

 

 -Alan Frank

 

-Gregory Colbert: Ashes and Snow

 

-Sigur Ros: Music Video

 

 

-Enya (yes, Enya)

 

 

 

Similar Work:

 

-Meditative Videos

 

 

-Interactive Brand Experiences

 

http://www.luminvision.co.uk/videos.htm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 

 

 
 

 

 

 

-Miguel Chevalier

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
  
 

 

-Funky Forest

 

 

 

 
-Forest of Fireflies
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aesthetic:

 

 

-Joana Kelly: Sandwiches

http://www.joanakelly.com/sandwiches/index.htm

 

-Music videos by The Books

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-Fredo Viola: The Sad Song

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-The BlackHeart Gang: The Tale of How

http://theblackheartgang.com/the-household/the-tale-of-how/

 

-Alice in Wonderland

 

Technical:

 

-Johnny Lee: Wii Remote stuff

http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~johnny/projects/wii/

-Sound mixing in Flash: PeachPit Tutorial

http://www.peachpit.com/articles/article.aspx?p=169696

 

Sketches:

 

 

 

Problems: 

-how can i make the experience organic without relying so much on buttons/sensors/wii remotes or other mechanical things?

-how much should i ask of the user in terms of the amount of interaction?





Findings from Whitney Artport Idea Line…

31 01 2008

The Whitney Artport Idea Line is a Java applet that categorizes and visualizes works created in multiple disciplines over a timeline dating from pre-1995 to 2002. It acts as a resource for finding groundbreaking or experimental work that emerged with the emergence of new technologies and new applications of those technologies. Our assignment for class was to fish around the Idea Line and pick out a few pieces we found interesting. Here’s what I found:

“Face Value” by Nino Rodriguez, 1996 (http://www.mindspring.com/~ninor/)

In the early days of hypertext and the exploration of what it really means to ‘interact’ online, Nino created a website that utilizes unique features of hypertext to generate curiosity for and create a commentary of media’s role in forming our desires and vice versa, and how the internet may play a new role in this. On the site, as users sift through the pages they are invited to “fill in the blanks” and complete sentences/statements dealing with this topic. As they do so, they interact directly with the ideas and shape their conclusions; and it forces them to take time to be self-reflective and decide how they really feel about the matter. Below is an example of one of the pages:

This piece is over 10 years old, so obviously it is quite simple considering all the capabilities that the Web has now. But for the ideas being explored here, I think the execution was well-implemented. While playing around with the statements. I constantly found myself going back and changing the words I had chosen and reconsidering the statement’s meaning. What’s being said here still has relevance today. Looking at this project, I am reminded of a much more recent work by Michael Wesch on YouTube entitled “The Machine is Us/ing Us” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NLlGopyXT_g). This video also explores and provides commentary on the idea of how hypertext affects people and how people affect hypertext. Interacting with this idea and discovering the relationships embedded within the medium of the Web is very complex, and I am fascinated by it. Many projects I work on also involve this interplay of people vs. “Machine” and I enjoy seeing how other people approach the topic.

“PDA Art” by Joss Deutsch, 2001(http://www.geocities.com/immjoss/PDAart)

Though not the most innovative of pieces, I really enjoy the nature behind this sort of work. In this work, Joss Deutsch quite simply downloaded a drawing/painting application onto his PDA and used his PDA as a sketch book rather than carrying an actual sketchbook around with him. His reason for this was that a lot of the detail would be lost in his sketches if he drew them by hand and tried to scan them in to make them digital. So instead he began exploring how he could sketch directly in digital form. Below are some examples of sketches he created on his PDA:

It’s true that these sketches aren’t anything fantastic, but I don’t feel that’s even the point of this project. The reason I like this work is because I am constantly intrigued by how people will take an existing technology and find a new use for it. The people who made PDA’s probably never thought of using it as an art tool. Instead, Joss Deutsch became a sort of “prosumer” who found ways on his own to apply a technology to his needs. And now, 6 years later, take a look at all the technology we now have that are related (if not direct descendants) from projects like these. Today we now work with Whacom Tablets, tablet PC’s, and many other haptic tools that allow us to create otherwise ‘analog’ work into a direct digital form. I’m really interested in seeing how these things evolve.

“Anemone” by Ben Fry, 2001 (http://acg.media.mit.edu/people/fry/anemone/applet/)

As many of us know, Ben Fry is pretty much one of the ‘fathers’ of Processing. In this earlier project of his, Fry created an applet that generated an animated data visualization that portrays the growth, life, and death of web pages in real time and the way people navigate between them. With this work, Fry was able to show all at once how pages are used and changed along with how people relate them to one another. For me this type of project is important for several reasons. First, it explores a new element of data visualization: real time. Portraying things in real time gives life to the information we’re looking at. We are able to observe the changes as they are happening and see the entire life cycle that the data takes. In doing this, we can better understand how the behaviors of people affect something. Secondly, it provides a new way for us to observe the behaviors of people online and the relationships they assign to the webpages they are viewing. From this vantage point we get to see how people directly affect how the web is used and what they desire from it. Lastly, the visualization is interactive. We can isolate certain elements of the visualization to take a closer look at it and interact with the information we are seeing. Below is a snapshot of how this visualization works:

This type of work is very similar to projects that I’ve been trying to create. Last semester I worked on trying to find a way to portray the idea of collective intelligence by creating a desktop widget that grew a ‘garden’ in real time based on the data it received from Wikipedia’s RSS feed. It was an interactive way to engage people in observing how users affect the Web and see how users can ‘grow’ something together – in this case, a huge bank of information that the entire world has access to. Fry’s project is similar to mine both in aesthetics and the type of information he’s trying to portray. This type of work makes great precedence for the work I have done and will continue to pursue.





The Exploration and Realization of Online Collective Intelligence

21 12 2007

WidgetSymbols

DesktopWidget

Abstract:

With the advent of Web 2.0 and all that it entails, collective intelligence has become a very enticing buzz word in the online arena. With it, individuals become more empowered, information is generated and shared in ways that it never has before, and the Internet now provides a place that is decentralized and democratized. Yet what are the underlying implications of such a phenomenon? How can people understand the individual roles they play in such an arena? Though online collective intelligence is usually considered a positive phenomenon, there exist many underlying implications that often go unseen and must be considered in order to truly understand the impact of this phenomenon and the technology that enables it. This project explores such questions and seeks to demonstrate, visualize, and experiment with the idea of collective intelligence as it pertains to Wikipedia, the online community-driven free encyclopedia.

CollectiveIntelligencePaper





Final Project Ideas…

27 11 2007

Write a narrative description of the project(s). What is it, who is it designed for, what is it designed to do, what kind of technology does it explore, why should we care about it, where will we see or what is the project’s life beyond the classroom, how does it make a difference?   

Due to the nature of the topic that I’m exploring, I could take my project in several different directions. The more I research the idea of ‘collective intelligence’ and the implications found therein, the more I find particular facets of it that I’d like to extrapolate on. Thus, the projects proposed below are not really similar by any means, but all touch on some part of the same broader topic. So now I just need to figure out what idea would truly be best to follow through with. Hopefully some feedback from the class will help with that. Until then, I’m throwing all my ideas out there to be considered. 

Regardless of what project I end up working with, the goals and parameters for these ideas are the same. The projects are designed for people who are involved with and contribute to rich media online. By rich media I am not simply referring to things like audio and video and interactive animations, I am also referring to any online content generated by newer technology and outlets such as Web 2.0 technology, data driven content, blogs, feeds, wikis, open source communities, etc. Essentially, anyone who uploads content or participates in some Web format where they generate content and share information is a good candidate for my projects. 

With all these potential projects I wish to explore the nature of collective intelligence and demonstrate how we as users and participants are the ‘super computer’ as opposed to it being an entity separate from us. People can talk forever about how powerful this technology is making us and how it is making so much information accessible to us. Yet, I do not see much in terms of showing what implications all this online participation brings with it. Is collective intelligence really a good thing? We see it in such a positive light – perhaps because it is still a novel concept to us – but what is it really doing? What about collective intelligence is bad? Is an entry on a Wikipedia page really true just because the consensus says so? Is collective intelligence truly ‘intelligent’? Or is it just a way for the masses to dumb down information to a more accessible level? And if that’s the case, what’s good and bad about that? What about things like Google? In a sense, Google knows (or at least has access to) everything that we choose to make available online. In the end, does this help us or hurt us as we continue to break down the walls of privacy to reveal ourselves to the virtual world? And what of this virtual world? How is it different from any other realm where we share and access information such as libraries, classrooms, water cooler conversations, eavesdropping while walking in a public space, etc.?…These questions could go on and on. What I’d like to do with all these questions is explore them a bit more and then pose them for others to see and think about. By doing so, it is my hope that people might better understand their place in this vast ‘super computer’ they’re contributing to and perhaps recognize a greater social responsibility they have to it than they might not have otherwise considered. I want to force people to step back from this ‘organized chaos’ that is the Web and have them explore more of this virtual, yet so real, space that they occupy. Collective intelligence demonstrates that people truly do have power and a voice in this world; and I want to demonstrate to people just how important this power truly is. 

With all this being said, allow me to introduce my project ideas… 

Idea #1 – Wikipedia Sabotage

Execution: Add my own content to a Wikipedia page related to the idea of collective intelligence which creates a disruption/debate to what is being said on the page. This could either be a page that is already well-developed with good information, or one that is seriously lacking in content and validity (which would be hysterically ironic…see image below). I will document what happens and create a blog space to post my findings and generate further discussion about the topic. I am interested to see what reactions I get as I literally put the idea of collective intelligence into practice. My hypothesis is that the results will prove to be somewhat ironic.

  

Purpose: To create a disturbance in how people view the idea of collective intelligence and to observe and measure how quickly and to what extent people respond to my posts. It is my hope that people will recognize my posts as valid points in this discussion of what constitutes as collective intelligence and will serve to demonstrate just how powerful this ‘intelligence’ is as people work together to discuss this very topic. If this experiment does not foster any worthwhile findings, I will try the same thing through other venues and compare how people respond there as opposed to Wikipedia. 

What it shows: This project will show how people work together to define an aspect of collective intelligence – the act of which might prove somewhat ironic. If my entries are deleted right away, what does that tell me about collective intelligence? That my contribution isn’t valid or ‘intelligent’ enough? Wouldn’t that disprove the meaning of collective intelligence? This project will also show how people respond to my demonstration of this act – which also will generate an interesting perspective on how people work collectively to treat the idea of collective intelligence.    

Idea #2 – Video demonstration 

Execution: create a video that puts together all the research and implications of collective intelligence that I have studied. This video would be similar to work done by Michael Wesch such as his video “The Machine is Us/ing Us (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6gmP4nk0EOE) and will set out to demonstrate all the implications – both good and bad – that the Web as a platform is affording us. This video will be posted on high traffic venues such as YouTube and will be tracked to monitor responses and see what sort of reactions I can generate. 

Purpose: to raise questions and generate awareness to users about their role in this virtual space not only in terms of the impact all this has, but also on the responsibility that lies in people’s hands. 

What it shows: an overview of the nature of collective intelligence and what it really implies for us and what we really imply for it.    

Idea #3 – “The Global Google Brain”

Execution: Create an interactive online Flash experience that takes people through all the ways (both good and bad) that Google represents our collective brain. Google now has the ability to know everything that exists online and more. This intelligence was generated all by our own participation and collective intelligence; and while many people view this as quite the amazing phenomena, what does having a ‘Google Brain’ really mean?

  

Purpose: to demonstrate the major impact Google has is the virtual universe and how this trickles down to our non-virtual livelihoods. It will serve as an interactive learning tool that allows people to discover for themselves some issues and implications with Google that they might not yet have considered and help them understand how they contribute to this.  

What it shows: since Google is essentially an umbrella that represents the entirety of the web, this project will show people on an individual basis where they fit in this huge space and how they are affecting it, and how Google (and everyone else who uses a Google product) is in turn affecting them. It is a way to give people a different perspective on the whole collective issue by approaching it from a Google slant.  

Idea #4 – Garden of Intelligence 

Execution: Create a web space that shows data from collective intelligence sites like Wikipedia, del.icio.us, and others in the form of a garden that grows in real time depending on when new entries are posted. When people visit this site, they can choose what ‘garden’ they’d like to watch growing and then sit back and watch as flowers, trees, bushes, etc. pop up every time an update is made to whatever blog or site they are monitoring. This can also be downloaded as a desktop widget so that people can always have a pretty view of their ‘collective intelligence gardens’ that people are growing together. Every element in the garden can also be clicked on and link you directly to the specific entry that “planted” the new flower in the first place.

 

  

Purpose: to serve as a personalized data visualization of people’s own collective intelligence units that they participate in. It is a real time way for people to watch how quickly and to what extent others are participating in the spaces that they care about and gives people a new way of being aware of the part they play in this space. 

What it shows: it shows on a more ‘local’ level how people’s individual contributions to something that you participate in can grow into something large and important. It is a way to show people how working together builds something new that can affect you daily and how others also see the view that you are seeing and co-creating. It also measures on a moment-to-moment basis how ‘healthy’ your intelligence garden is and can make people more aware of how too many contributions can create clutter or how too few contributions can make for a sparse garden of intelligence. In a way, this could serve as a new approach to visualizing folksonomy.

Updated Venn Diagram:

Here’s where all my projects fall into the grand scheme of things…





Brainstorming Final Project…

15 11 2007

Here’s some questions I might like to address in my final project:

  • How will younger generations integrate and be affected by new media?
    • How does technology impact their cognitive processes as they develop during childhood years?
    • Will this technology make them smarter or less perceptive?
    • How can education be integrated into this new media effectively?
    • How will this change the way future generations function and interact as a society?
  • What is the impact of collective intelligence?
    • How are wiki and open source communities shaping the way people share and create knowledge?
    • What technologies are enabling this collective intelligence?
    • What does this say about us as people? That we like to share? That we learn best from others? That there is power in numbers?
    • How does this affect the economy and globalization?
    • Who truly benefits from collective intelligence, and can it really be trusted?
  • Will the Web become the giant ‘Machine’ that so many have predicted will control and organize our world?
    • How is the Web 2.0 craze changing the way people behave online?
    • Is this virtual now more of a reality than our actual world?
    • How does life on the web enhance or diminish the way people interact with each other?
    • Who controls this ‘Machine’? Is there any control at all?
    • Are there any other possible technologies or innovations that could serve us better for this purpose?

 

Domains/Keywords

  • Children & Technology
  • Technology & Education
  • Emerging technology
  • Developmental psychology
  • Computers & Cognition
  • Integrating technologies in future societies
  • Tech toys
  • New media
  • HCI
  • Computer interaction as a replacement for human interaction
  • Wiki communities
  • Blogging
  • Social networks
  • Wikipedia
  • Collective Intelligence
  • Converging Media
  • Open Source Communities
  • Search Engines
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Web 2.0
  • Information Creation & Organiziation
  • Information Age vs. Age of Ideas
  • What is real? What is virtual? Does the difference matter?
  • Globalization
  • Economy
  • New Business Models
  • R&D
  • Media Ethics
  • Super Computers
  • Creative Commons
  • CC Learn
  • MIT Open Course Listings
  • One computer per child
  • Politics and democracy
  • Do ‘purely original’ ideas exist anymore? If not, is this a problem?
  • Privacy
  • Global Brain
  • Gestalt Principle – The whole is better than the sum of its parts
  • Control of the media or lack thereof
  • E-commerce: amazon, ebay, etc.
  • Grassroots approaches/democratization

 

Here’s a Venn Diagram Showing how all these questions/domains are related. They all have a lot of ideas in common with each other, so I wasn’t sure how else I could present a diagram besides this way:

 





Study on Online Social Networks: Last.fm

13 11 2007

Last.fm is one of the largest music social networks in the world. Using collaborative filters and elaborate algorithms, it is able to take all the music you listen to on your computer and iPod and get a sense of music that you like. It takes your music preferences and compares it with others so that you can be matched with people who have similar tastes and be recommended music that you might enjoy. Last.fm also offers ways for people to be connected as ‘friends’, join groups, find ‘neighbors’, attend events, write a music journal/blog, tag music, read artist bios, see top music charts, and learn how their taste in music stacks up against others. Essentially, all the content on Last.fm is generated by the users. This is a very powerful thing. Not only does it connect people in very important ways with something that they are passionate about but it also is revolutionizing the traditional business model of record labels. Here’s a taste of some of the points of interaction offered through Last.fm:

Here’s Last.fm’s main page for a given user. Here a user can see their friends, neighbors, music recommendations, and charts – all tailored to that specific user with her own specific tastes.

One of the most powerful feature of Last.fm is the ability for people to tag music any way they like. When they do this, they are constantly and collectively generating and organizing content and information in their own way. It becomes an extremelely powerful tool.

This is Last.fm’s ‘shoutbox’ where people can leave you message on your main profile page. It’s similar to having a Facebook ‘wall’ where people can leave comments and provides a quick way for people to initiate discussions about music.

Here’s the ‘groups’ page where people with similar music tastes can join a group and discuss music and share information. Millions of groups exist for just about any kind of music, and new groups can be created at any time.

This friends module acts the same as it does in other common social networks where people can submit a ‘friend request’ and then be connected to you in a more exclusive way than other people in the social network.

This is perhaps one of the more powerful points of interaction that Last.fm offers. The ‘neighbors’ page is automatically generated to give you a list of other people in the network who have similar tastes to you. You can view their pages to learn of new music that you’d probably like and can also listen to the ‘neighbors radio’ station that will stream music that these people listen to. This is probably my favorite page in the entire network because it narrows down the network to create a more personal network that suits me.

Last.fm’s events page will list concerts and events in your area that match your music preferences. It will also list other people in the network that are attending the same show so that you can meet up and see who else in your community can share in your musical passions.

Lastly, we’ve this little ‘Taste-O-Meter’ module that automatically pops up on other people’s pages you view to show you how musically compatible you are with that person. It’s a good tool for finding your musical match online.

OK. Now for some more ‘serious’ research…

Last.fm has been considered by many to be the big music social networking site that is revolutionizing the way people listen to, share, and consume music. According to the ‘List of Social Networks’ on Wikiepedia.org, over 15,000,000 users subscribe to Last.fm around the world, and this number continues to grow faster than other music social networks. What makes Last.fm so special? It’s based on what has been coined as ‘collaborative filtering’ (http://www.wired.com/culture/lifestyle/news/2003/07/59522). Special software known as the AudioScrobbler tracks all the music people listen to on their computers or iPods and compares this data with others in the network to provide each user with unique recommendations based on their tastes and similar tastes of other people. Each time a new band or artist is scrobbled that is not yet in Last.fm’s database, a page for that artist is automatically created so that it can be shared with others. Bands can upload their music for people to sample. Music videos can be viewed. Detailed artist pages offer in-depth information of albums and songs. Groups are formed. Neighbors are found. People keep journals to write about their feelings on certain songs. Events/concerts are listed and people can find out who else in the Last.fm network is attending such events. Aside from Last.fm’s sophisticated algorithms and dynamic pages that scream ‘Web 2.0’, it also offers a way to change how the entire music industry operates and how music is created.

 

One of the major influences that Last.fm has is its ability to provide the democratization of music. (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/6924150.stm). The generation and organization of information is all done by the users. Last.fm simply provides the platform on which people can organize themselves musically. Songs are tagged and tabulated based on choices by the users. Song and artist charts are counted based on the music that users listen to the most. None of this content is generated by Last.fm alone. It’s all done by users and in turn influences other users’ choices. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Last.fm). Because of this, users essentially choose what bands stay on top and create the filters through which certain music gets more attention and is recommended to other users.

 

Last.fm and other similar music social networks allow anybody to be a DJ and to get their music heard. With new technology readily available for anyone and everyone to use to create their own music content, these social networks give people a place to share their work and have an equal footing with more popular artists that dominate the traditional music industry (http://arts.guardian.co.uk/netmusic/story/0,,1939031,00.html). This is important for many reasons. First, it encourages people to be creative and construct content that they might not otherwise have been made because there was simply no point in creating something if nobody would hear it. The more people create, the more diverse our culture becomes and the more options we have in terms of music. Secondly, it challenges the way that the music industry controls the market. Any individual with a small garage band can now be in the same pool and any major artist. Third, it instills a new passion and fervor into music lovers who now have access to more choices, more customization, and access to more people to share this passion with both online and offline.

 

One major impact that music social networks like Last.fm are having on the world is the way they are revolutionizing the music industry. The everyday person is now the most powerful marketing tool that a record label can have. But this will only work for labels if they change their business model to allow for their content to be more open and exposed to people to use as they may. Essentially this all means less control for the record labels and more control in the people’s hands. Before these social networks, it was up to record companies to filter what people might like to hear and then have music published. But now the model is completely reversed – now anything and everything is published and left to the people to filter on their own (http://www.wired.com/culture/lifestyle/news/2003/07/59522). And the people are hungry. Music lovers will gladly take all the music they can get their hands on and weed out what they like or don’t like. All they need is for record labels to cut them a bit of slack and give them more free access to music so they can pass their judgment. While this seems like tricky business for the record companies, in the end it is believed to help them more than harm them since more people will be exposed to their music and can contribute in the promotion of their artists (http://www.shirky.com/writings/music_flip.html). Not to mention, these social networks provide great marketing research for the record companies.

 

One last point to mention is how these music social networks are also affecting other social networks. Applications like iLike can now be integrated into Facebook to share information about music preferences. MySpace allows users to embed songs into their profile page which serve as a reflection or extension of their portrayed personalities. MySpace also provides a special music section where millions of bands/artists can upload samples of their songs, share information, and have a chance for better exposure than they otherwise could get. A major point of customization of many social networks is the ability to install widgets on their page that stream their music data from Last.fm. In doing things like this, it allows for people to be connected in more important and interesting ways. Such applications make it easier for people to share their passions and interests with others which in turn leads to more connections between people, more opportunities for artists, and more intricate ways for people to convey their identity to others. Last.fm is a grassroots approach at its finest and is truly shifting the way people connect and organize themselves through music.








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