Today's Anti-Productivity Tool

by Esther Schindler

I love attending technical conferences because of all the useful information I learn. And especially because of all the non-useful stuff. For example, when I was attending the Applied XML DevCon last week in Portland, Oregon, I learned from Amazon's Web services dude, Jeff Barr, about MusicPlasma. To use it, you type in a band name. The site returns with a graph of all the "related" bands based on Amazon's "people who bought this also bought..." data mining. Even if you don't care about music overmuch, the user interface is really groovy!


quite nice, and it works much to my surprise. I played around a bit and it delivers just what I expected for various artists from my cd rack.
Furthermore it's interesting to get from J. S. Bach to Joe Strummer in just 4 Clicks :-)

Andreas Braukmann, 2004-10-25

This is a lovely idea and I see how it works - but what browser do you use on the Mac in order to see it to full effect? On Safari, IE and Camino I find the display offset to the left, as it were, so the left-hand panel does not show properly.

Nick Daisley, 2004-10-25

Fascinating. I had been playing with MusicPlasma after seeing a link on Ed Brill's weblog, but I did not realize it used real data, I thought it was the product of a music librarian of some sort. Excellent.

jbwalkup, 2004-10-25

You might also check Audioscrobbler. After installing a plugin to your favorite music player it builds a profile of what you hear and then "automatically matches you to people with a similar music taste, and generates personalised recommendations."

Oliver Regelmann, 2004-10-25

This is a great site, but I found I got frustrated with it because some of the connections I expeceted between bands were not made. And then I cottoned on that it's because I am British and the data used is from It's still wonderful, and it would be great to have this as a front end to Amazon itself. If there was a 'stream audio' option on every node, so we could hear bands we haven't heard before, and then a 'buy' option, for if we were impressed, then you would be getting close to a model of how music buyers look for and acquire music.

smithylad, 2004-10-26

Isn't it funny that no band or artist is very far away from Warren Zevon?

Darren, 2004-10-27

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I explain difficult concepts in simple ways. For free, and for money. Clue procurement and bullshit detection.


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