Living in an Amazon World, Part I (last.fm)

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small_matrix_inWhat sort of world is it when you see only what you want to see and hear only what you want to hear?  I’m calling it the Amazon world. When you visit Amazon.com, it knows what you’ve bought in the past and, combining that with millions of similar data points, predicts what you might want to buy today.  If you give it access to Facebook, it can even correlate prefernces to your social network, because you’re more likely to buy what your friends buy. This can be sinister or it can be a boon.

My focus today is  one of the boons of social recommendation data mining, last.fm.  Last.fm, like Pandora, recommends music you might like. Unlike Pandora, last.fm knows what you’re really listening to through a process called scrobbling. Through a plugin for your media player, you send information about your music, as you listen to it, to last.fm.  They build a set of recommendations for you based on what people who listen to similar music listen to and expose it to you as an online “radio station”.

I’m stuck in San Francisco in the the 70’s. At worst, my musical prejudices will be confirmed and reinforced. At best, I might discover some new songs and artists that might broaden my tastes a bit.  At least, that’s what I’m hoping for.