On my non-work blog I’ve been posting quite a bit about a very very cool social networking-meets-music web application called Last.fm.
In a nutshell what Last.fm and its music player plugins do is track every bit of music that you listen to on your computer or iPod. It uploads the track name and artist name to its central server. Then it links you up with other people who listen to similar things.
One of the benefits of Last.fm is the ability to track what you and others listen to, and of course the ability to browse fellow users playlists. Not what they say they are playing but what they are playing. (If you want to see what I am listening to . . . you can)
You also get ‘recommendations’ on other artists, tracks and users that you might like to check out. A bit like Amazon’s book recommendations – but based entirely on what you are doing not just what you are buying. (Amazon’s recommendations are always screwed up when you buy a gift for someone for example)
Individuals also get a ‘radio’ station link that lets them listen to streaming music related to what they like and already play.
But it starts getting really exciting when people join together and share tastes. Users can form ‘groups’ around shared interests.
Groups also have an automatically generated ‘radio’ station that plays licensed tracks based on the collective musical tastes of the group. Its in its early days but my group is already starting to build a collection of pretty relevant stuff – and as more small labels join the specialist radio will only improve. (Already I have heard a track from an artist on the Fonal label on it!)
The possibilities here are only just being explored.
This is really hot because it is so seamless and its addictive.
Giv and I have been thinking about how we could apply the same principles of ‘taste’ and ‘action’ to cultural institutions and hopefully you’ll be seeing something along these lines developed as a key part of how the upcoming Design Hub project we are creating works.