Stay Cool Dad

Algorithms vs. your mates by Simon Sharwood
September 13, 2006, 3:00 am
Filed under: Just listened to ...

I’ve just come back from a conference where a Web 2.0 zealot or two did their usual trick of proclaiming that almost anything can be fixed with a blog and that anyone who ignores their belief that social media will take over the world will find themselves sweeping streets for a living in about two weeks, just after News Ltd. goes bankrupt.

My cynical tone about this stuff comes from recent experiences with Last.FM and Pandora.

After my initial enthusiasm for the former, I’ve had some rather dim experiences with it. For example, almost every reference I give it produces some Frank Sinatra tracks. That includes They Might Be Giants and The Go-Betweens.

Okay, there’s a link with male vocalists, but what else connects the two?

It also likes pulling out tracks by what I think I’ll call “predecessor bands,” which means you get Big Name 70s bands (think Styx) offered up as linked to modern acts.

Pandora does not make that kind of weird connection. Its algorithmically cool logic is more reliable.
Anyway … it all got me thinking about how I used to learn about new music, which was via. my mates.

Someone’s big brother or sister would make a tape of something and it would go viral through a school or uni.

These days the same thing seems to happen on MySpace, if the hype is to be believed.

That’s a more dynamic and personal process than either Pandora or Last.FM offers.

And I reckon that’s how my kids will do this too. Us grownups don’t get a chance to talk music all that often, and our experience is limited because time gets taken up with adult stuff, not experimenting with media. (When I talk to my adult friends it is usually about how to get our respective offspring to eat greens!)

All of which means that this web 2.0 stuff is both the future and not the future.

I’m sure my kids will explore the on-line world a lot. I also think connecting to people will be more important for them than connecting to algorithms.

That sad interaction is what us oldsters need to do, and hope that mediated communications offer us a chance to build connections – sometimes via. algorithm – that adult responsibilities otherwise deny us.


1 Comment so far
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This may intrigue you:

Maybe. I find that I tend to like Pandora’s selections better. But this helps keep track of what I’m listening to and now, as a result, IT is getting better at offering relevant tunes as well. win-win. 🙂

Comment by Handy

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