25 January 02007

Last.fm makes personal radio stations easily shareable

I like this. In the new beta version of Last.fm, you can now share different playlists with others via an embedded Flash player, like this:

That playlist is my 'loved tracks' on Last.fm, but you can also hear all the artists and tracks I've tagged as 'french' or those any of my other most frequently used tags. The beta service is only available to Last.fm subscribers at present, so that link may not work for ordinary mortals until it comes out of beta — which is usually a couple of weeks or so [Update: tested and confirmed that it doesn't work, so try this link from February].

By the way, the deadline for the 'final draft' of my book is 9th February, which is why it's gone a little quiet around here once more. Back soon.

5 January 02007

Of wise and foolish crowds

Kathy Sierra of Creating Passionate Users has written a clear and pithy piece that captures something of the circumstances when crowds are wise and when they're not. I've extracted a couple of her comparisons and put them in table form:

Collective intelligence Dumbness of Crowds
A pile of people writing Amazon book reviews A pile of people collaborating on a wiki to collectively author a book
Getting input and ideas from many different people and perspectives Blindly averaging the input of many different people, and expecting a breakthrough. 
(It's not always the averaging that's the problem it's the blindly part)

I couldn't have put it better myself (I know that to be true because, in a less clear and pithy way, I tried to). Several of the comments are worth reading too. [Discovered via Jay Cross's Informal Learning blog.]

3 January 02007

BBC Music web resources updated and integrated

BBC Music Artists and AlbumsIt's been a long time (2.5 years) since I wrote much about the BBC's online music resources. Though I still use these resources fairly frequently, I don't always do so particularly attentively (if you know what I mean), so I don't know if the changes I noticed today are very recent or months old.

Previously I grumbled that there were multiple BBC profiles of bands like The Smiths that seemed independent and unaware of each other. Things are much better now, with a single Artists and Albums section. Every page within that section has sections for related material 'elsewhere on the BBC' and 'elsewhere on the Web', as in the new profile for The Smiths. There's an RSS feed for new album reviews. I'd still like some feed or other alert to tell me when the next broadcast featuring, say, The Smiths is coming up.

The BBC used to license some of its artist profiles from Muze. To be honest, these profiles were not good: flat text, poorly laid out (requiring clicking through several pages). They've gone now, replaced by the BBC's own commissioned and user-generated content, plus links to Wikipedia and All Music Guide. If you look at 6 Music's Album of the Day page, you'll see a mix of links within the BBC, to Wikipedia, and (at the time of writing) one to Ink Blot magazine. There have been previous cases of online sites like GoFish and Upto11.net placing their trust in Wikipedia instead of licensing commercial sources like Muze or AMG, but is the BBC the first large traditional media corporation to do so?

1 January 02007

Personalised learning

My frequent associate (and all-round good egg) Seb Schmoller has been polling views of e-learning practitioners on 'personalised learning', including what the term conjures up for you. He asked me for my thoughts. I wasn't sure I had any, but I find that, if I imagine myself in the role of a jaded old cynic (it's a challenge, but I rise to it), the opinions just come flooding out. So I posted them in the comments on Seb's blog entry.

Apart from mine, Seb's already got contributions from several leading lights in e-learning, and I think he's open to further input, if you feel so inclined. All comments will feed into a presentation Seb is making in a couple of weeks' time, and he will post the notes he collates from everyone on his site.

Today the BBC has one of those predictions for the coming year features, which includes some rather vague references to personalisation, such as "all the companies are talking reputation management and melding it with personalisation so when you get recommendations you can trust them," according to someone with a nice line in lime green cowboy hats. (Disclaimer: I'm just poking fun in a friendly way; please don't anyone take offence.) See also: The Guardian and the failed promise of personalisation.