january, 28, 2003 archives

napster as a recommendation tool

clay shirky wrote about the music business and how it hasn't caught up to the publish-then-filter model growing in other industries in his essay, “the music business and the big flip”. good stuff, of course, but i'll have to quibble with this quote:

Prior to its demise, Napster began publicizing itself as a way to find new music, but this was a fig leaf, since users had to know the name of a song or artist in advance. Napster did little to place new music in an existing context, and the current file-sharing networks don't do much better.
napster actually did do one quite novel thing in putting new music in context—letting you browse the music being shared by a specific other person. that meant you could search for supreme beings of leisure and poke around the collections of people who had sbl to see what else they liked. sure, it wasn't a fancy-schmancy recommendation engine a la amazon, but i certainly found it useful. (i wasn't much of a napster user, but i remember this being touted as a neat thing about napster at the time.)

unless i'm misunderstanding, this is the sort of thing that friendster is trying to apply to meeting people. (although i find great irony in having been asked to join friendster by someone i don't really know. now to work up the motivation to enter all sorts of info into a system that won't then reward me by letting me get the data out again in a more useful format.)

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