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from the mouth of mog

So David Hyman, whose project we enjoy in this here website, messaged me after reading my earlier blog post. He had some corrections. See below.

I had made a point in Hyman not having mentioned last.fm or other audio based social networking sites in his explanation on the origins for his idea for mog, quoted by David Pescovitz on boingboing.net. Hyman wrote me to explain that he had no control over the questions he was asked. Apparently, Pesco hadn’t asked Hyman about other site like last.fm, so the issue never came up.

But he would have liked to have been. Apparently, as CEO of Gracenote Hyman had long been studying music identification. Writes Hyman, “[I] envisioned MOG very clearly [after I] bought a waveform analysis company called cantametrix in 2000 for gracenote to do things like this.”

This would help explain why mog was using gracenote’s proprietary CDDB rather than the open source, FreeDB or musicbrainz project. As Hyman explains, “musicid… is a big, nasty beast of a thing.” Gracenote’s recognition technology via waveform analysis allows mog to bypass localization issues by recognizing songs in any language, Japanese, Korean, etc., so long as their songs are in the database. The gracenote database mog is using has, according to Hyman, been fined tuned — a process which required “a massive amount of work”. But will mog users be able to edit errors they discover in this supplemented DB? It’s unclear.

What is clear is that, unlike last.fm, mog has no interest in suggesting music recommendations to its users. It’s enough for mog to use it’s algorthimic powers to suggest fellow users with similar music tastes. Showing “musical neighbors” has long been a feature of last.fm, as has the prevalence of charts and statistics. The latter might be shown “for the novelty of it” in aggregate across all of mog and not for individual users. Charts don’t really interest Hyman for mog because with more users, the more their collective listening habits will begin to reflect billboard charts.

Likewise, mog won’t be creating any musicmaps based on connections between artists, or to compute “genres” based on grouping of users similar tastes. The more important mission of mog is to help like-minded enthusiasts exchange tastes. Thus, social maps showing connections between moggers may be implemented.

Elsewhere on my mog page I had written snarkily, “Mog profiles are:: the latest vogue in hipster exhibitionim.” Hyman took note, and in good humour countered

what you call hipster exhibitionism i call, “self expression” and something i’ve felt myspace does pretty well! – not all moggers are hipsters. especially, me. ; )

But will mog allow its moggers to tinker with their user pages, ala myspace? It’s unclear. Currently, there are only a few templates designed by others for users to choose from. By next week, Hyman writes, the template library will be open to many more additions from a presumably larger number of CSS designers and “there are plans for beyond that as well.” Does this mean that users will be able to hack their own page’s CSS ? I don’t know, but here’s hoping. Without this aesthetic control, for now, users will have to be satisfied with the substantial control they wield — creating and editing their own mog widgets.

But beyond the desire for audio based socializing and “self-expression”, why mog? What if one simply wants to listen to, not read about, some cool music some other mog user is raving about? Myspace allows users to express their taste by sharing their favorite indie band tunes so long as that band is promoting themselves on myspace and are making that track accessible. Last.fm offers customized music streams based on the tastes of individual users. What will mog offer its listeners in a world which is making it awfully difficult for users to legally share files with each other? Hyman shared with me this sensational bit of news:

we are working with a partner to allow for anyone to listen to almost any song on mog it it’s entirety. not streamed 30 second sound samples like we have now.

I can hardly wait.

About Aharon N. Varady


Aharon's Omphalos is the hobbit hole of Aharon Varady, founding director of the Open Siddur Project. He is a community planner and environmental educator working to improve stewardship of the Public Domain, be it the physical and natural commons of urban park systems or the creative and cultural commons of libraries and museums. His advocacy for open-source strategies in the Jewish community has been written about in the Atlantic Magazine, the Yiddish Forverts, Tablet, and Haaretz. He is particularly interested in pedagogies for advancing ecological wisdom, developing creative and emotional intelligence, and realizing effective theurgical praxes . He welcomes your comments, personal messages, and kind words. If you find his work helpful to your own or you'd simply like to support him, please consider donating via his Patreon account.

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