30 March 02006

Musicube sharing of BBC listening profiles

musicubeThrough Radio 1, the BBC has introduced a Flash interface to its on-demand 'listen again' feature, which enables listeners both to personalise the user interface they use to access radio programmes, and to share this interface with their friends. My personal 'musicube' is shown below. The elements I got to specify are the genres included in the 'cube', and the amount of space they take up.

One blogger has reviewed the musicube as "a cool (if fairly useless) concept". The cool bits are the ease of personalisation, the sharing capability and the eye-candy look. As far as the utility goes, if you're an efficiency-conscious hacker, there are quicker, less pretty ways of building your own console for the BBC's radio programmes.

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27 March 02006

UKLeaP learner profile published by BSI

A piece of work to which I completed my contribution almost two years ago has finally seen the light of day. The UK lifelong learner information profile (UKLeaP) has not been published as a British Standard, as originally expected, but as a 'Draft for Development'. I think this reflects some ongoing debates among different standards bodies and regimes, trying to bring their different perspectives into harmony.

  • Part 1 (DD 8788-1:2006, £20) is a guide to UKLeaP specification, aiming to help people who develop, select or implement software that makes use of learner information;
  • Part 2 (DD 8788-2:2006, £40) is a code of practice aimed at analysts and other people interested in designing and specifying systems that are to comply with the UKLeaP specification;
  • Part 3 (DD 8788-3:2006, £90) is the specification itself.

I'm sorry things have been quiet here recently: I went cross-country skiing for the first time two weeks ago, and returned with the obligatory fracture (to my elbow), which was followed by a chest infection. I've got plenty of things to post, but am still recovering and catching up with things like VAT returns.

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9 March 02006

Something fishy about MusicStrands recommendations

When I reviewed MusicStrands at the end of last year, I noted something odd about the recommendations that the system gave me. I started entering a playlist that I'd already entered on several other similar services (including Art of the Mix, Mixmatcher, FIQL and GoFish). When I was half-way through entering the playlist on MusicStrands, I noticed the recommendations that MusicStrands was suggesting were exactly the same tracks that made up the second half of the playlist, as published elsewhere.

As this could not be a coincidence, I posted a MusicStrands journal entry in January to ask if MusicStrands was importing data. When I got no reply to this, I sent a message in February to Byron Prong, described on his profile as "the resident Musicologist and helpful guide to the MusicStrands site", referring him to the journal entry. Still no reply or acknowledgement at the time of writing this.

Mike Wu of FIQL has assured me that he hasn't licensed any of his playlist data to MusicStrands. There's nothing wrong in principle with one service provider making such data available to others to generate recommendations, as long as no personal data is involved and no privacy is infringed. I'm not sure if there would be any way for one provider to 'harvest' another's playlist data without their permission. So I'm not levelling any accusations at MusicStrands, but you'd think that, if there were nothing to be embarrassed about, I might have got a reply by now.

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8 March 02006

Is Pandora opening up?

There's an interesting press release about Pandora and Friendster hooking up together to bring a social dimension to Pandora's 'personal radio stations'. (The press release currently appears on Friendster's site, but not on Pandora's — not sure if there's any significance in that.)

Bringing Friendster and Pandora together takes the experience to another level: Friendster Radio expands the universe of music discovery beyond the individual listener to the listener's friends and the entire Friendster Network. Friendster users build radio stations that can be shared, evolve, and even become 'hits' on Friendster.
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2 March 02006

Radio feature on Audio Branding

BBC Radio 4 broadcast a feature on audio branding today, based around interviews with three of the speakers — Dan Jackson, Martyn Ware and Alasdair Scott — at the event I chaired last week. For the next week (until 9 March) you can hear the feature via this page, then it will move to this page until 16 March. Here's a direct link to the Realmedia file (11mins 40secs).

The event turned out to be a lot of fun, as well as being informative. My notes are inevitably patchy, and probably not worth publishing, but a report of the event should appear on the NMK site at some point. [Update, 8 May 02005: here's the report.]