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Mog and Audioscrobbler

If you were reading boingboing.net this past week, you might have thought that Mog was the first social network site with the idea of connecting audiophiles based on their listening habits. When David Pescovitz asked David Hyman where he got the idea for Mog from, Hyman didn’t reply that his idea had already been implemented by others with similar concepts. Rather, Hyman explained:

my friends and i always turn each other on to music. i wanted to automate the process of sharing what was in our collections and what we are listening to without having to do the work of typing it in.

Could it be that Hyman wasn’t aware of the a handful of free (or pay) sites that already do this? (See Gnoosic, Echocloud, Audioscrobbler, last.fm, musicbrainz, musicplasma, etc…). It would have been insightful to read why existing music-based social networking sites such as audioscrobbler/last.fm were too limiting in comparison with his vision. After all, there is certainly quite a bit of room for improvement among these sites.

From my few days experience with Mog, there are some significant differences, large and small, between it and other audio based social networking sites:

1. Mog offers an option of “undeclared” for users who prefer not to identify as male or female. Compare this with the last.fm option of “unknown.” Neither site offers much of a choice for gender queers, but at least “undeclared” offers a less offensive option for those who know perfectly well that male and female don’t make sense for who they are.

2. Like last.fm and musicbrainz, Mog seems to be having trouble with the data quality of its established database of artist and album names. (Perhaps Mog will experiment with user’s working together to clean up this data? Audioscrobbler tried this with mixed, but I think mostly positive, results.) This is my biggest complaint so far with Mog.

3. Unlike audioscrobbler, Mog will scan your music collection up front (and post it to your user page). This could theoretically be a boon for filesharers seeking ultra-rare tracks… or for media companies looking for quasi-anonymous users to litigate against.

4. Mog offers uses the ability to customise the look of their page. Last.fm maintains a single template for all user sites, which drew the ire of many users of the old audiscrobbler site. Last.fm could learn a few things from Mog.

If one has the ambition and audiactiy to create yet another of these sites they should aspire to a greater goal, and more pioneering goal than Hyman described. How about creating a site which celebrates less hipster exhibitionism, and promotes more creative and/or collaborative behavior. I’d like to see some cooperative tools that aren’t forums. The closest we’ve come to seeing anything like a collaborative project on these sites is cleaning up database cruft (see below). The most valuable collaborative product of these social networking sites is the aggregate statistical data of popular and niche music. But what good is this data other than extremely valuable fodder for sale to media companies?

I’ll be experimenting with Mog and comparing my experience with other free sites over the coming months. I’ll be very interested to see how Mog helps to enable communities to form that aren’t the more typical bastions of trolling pedants you’ll find at musicbrainz and elsewhere.

Best of luck to Mog. It’s never a bad thing to reference the ideas (both the mistakes and successes) of past inventors. Here’s to David Hyman and the rest of his team learning from them.

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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