Visualizing Music, take 200

Jean at Clicknoise beats me to covering the NYT article about Andrew Kuo, artist and hardcore Bright Eyes fan, who has taken visualization of his obsessions to new heights. At his blog, Emo + Beer = Busted Career, you can browse through page after page of visualization of his fascination with music.


Visualizing listening and other rock and roll related information has been a recent theme in this blog (see here, here, and here). Kuo’s stuff is cool, for sure, as are the visualization charts.

The REAL next step, though, is not individuals generating charts for their own self-representation, or even individuals generating images for group representations.

The next step is social visualization, where as in the site Martin and Fernanda at Many Eyes have built, everyone can generate visualizations, no special expertise or artistic talents necessary. fans have been figuring out ways to automate generating their own and others’ visualizations, as RocketSurgeon lists here.

And then things will REALLY get interesting when we have ways to do it automatically. I should be able to click on a button and generate visualizations from any Web 2.0 site that’s got tons of data stored about me without having to import, export, and traverse sites. I should be able to visually compare myself to others. I should be able to explore network charts of our connections, bubble charts of our overlapping tastes and interest, time lines of our common experiences. All these sites (, MySpace, Facebook,, digg, etc) are about amassing data and making connections. They make us lists, they make us charts. They make lists and charts out of the data of crowds. Why don’t they make us pictures?

It will really get exciting when we can all play with the same visualizations so that we can compare our selves in a common image. We should be able to visualize not just the Bright Eyes concerts Kuo has been to, we should be able to visualize all of them together, and we should be able to mark which ones we’ve been to so we can compare our own attendance records, favorite song performances, and other things that get fans all hot and bothered. I’d love to see a visualization of all R.E.M. concerts — with setlists — and have embedded within it the concert attendance records of everyone who participates in, for instance. Many Eyes enables this (see the comments on the Library Things Top 50 Books visualization for an example), but it’s far from automated and even further from mainstream.

How to make me happy

It’s really not hard, just make me one of these!

(click for full size)


Too bad for the rest of you, it’s already been done.

This is a visualization of my listens over the last two and a half years.

Thank you David Maya! Get yours here (if you’ve got Windows).

Getting silly with things too serious to be silly with

And now for something completely [or maybe just a little bit] different:

This is an oldish, but still pretty funny parody of what an internet message board for the Globe Theater might have been like. Samples:

“The worst was King Lear. Cordelia’s death was just another cliche ‘Woman in an Icehouse’ moment from Hacks-peare.”

“The man clearly has issues. I mean, Taming of the Shrew? Women are shrews? I feel sorry for his wife. No, I don’t, she must deserve it if she has so little self-esteem to be with him. Othello is one of the most offensive and racist pieces of filth I’ve ever had the misfortune to see. And Merchant of Venice is just as bad. I’m honestly surprised people still give him work, he so clearly has an anti-diversity agenda.”

“Is he really all that bad? I thought Hamlet was sort of okay.”

“Oh, please, the plot of Hamlet makes no fucking sense. There’s a ghost and incest and an army on the border, yet they have time to fart around with stupid little plays that do NOTHING to advance the story? It’s stupid. And he clearly killed Rozencrantz and Guildenstern because of his anti-fun agenda, as has already been noted.”

And in a slightly similar vein, I was highly entertained to see that Jane Austen fans have gotten in on the LOLcat thang. Keep an eye on the Austen Blog for LOLUpdates:


and don’t miss the LOLcat version of Pride and Prejudice:

Rich man can has girl.

Bngli: i can has dance?
J4N3: k
l12: i can has dance too?
DarC: no u ugly go way
l12: LOLz
Bngli: BRB

MrC0lnz: l12 i can has heart?
l12: no gway
Chrltt: u can has me
MrC0lnz: K BRB

lyd14: o hai

DarC: i can has heart?
l12: no gway u rude

DarC: hai
l12: OMG thought u were AFK!!1!

J4N3: OMG K17y & Wikm BFF
l12: WTF?
lyd14: i can has wikm, k?
Wikm: i can has $$$? LOL
DarC: k

Bngli: hai, back. i can has heart?
J4N3: k lol
DarC: back
l12: thx 4 ur help
DarC: i can has heart?
l12: k lol

Meanwhile, friend of fans everywhere, Henry Jenkins, gets the LOL treatment:


Sadly, we of the fairer sex hardly ever get to be LOLTheoristed. What would Jane say?






Oeuvreblogs Galore

The other week I wrote about Pop Songs 07, Matthew Perpetua’s effort to blog all R.E.M. songs. That very same day, New York Magazine ran a piece on this new blog genre, labeling them “oeuvreblogs” (ooh la la!), giving Perpetua the credit, and identifying several others:

Perpetua’s R.E.M. blog seems to have kicked off a wave of oeuvreblogs, as they’re being called: blogs devoted to parsing the complete works of a particular artist in microscopic detail. Writers’ responses are typically personal rather than historical, and they’re a good way for fans of a band to geek out alongside fellow travelers.

Among the blogs cited in this article are those devoted to John Cale (Fragments of Cale), the Mountain Goats (Emotional Karaoke), Radiohead (Fridgebuzz), Pearl Jam (More Than Ten), and others.

Meanwhile my friend Avi, of It’s A Trap, points out that he beat Perpetua to the concept with his Saturday posts about Bear Quartet songs:

Apparently “Oeuvreblogs” are the new black? I may not quite have the fervor to post about every single Bear Quartet song ever recorded, but I suppose that my weekly posts qualify in some way. Going strong since January! Take that Perpetua! Carrying on…

Rock on, Avi!

Fanfic trouble at Live Journal

Yesterday, someone pointed me to this Boing Boing post about LiveJournal purging some fanfiction and related accounts, causing quite a stir. The matter was brought to Boing Boing’s attention by Madeline Ashby, a writer, cyborg theorist, blogger, soon-to-be-grad student, and (recent) LJer. Knowing she reads this blog, I asked her to explain what’s been happening. The result is long, but very interesting.

[Update: A lot of LJ fandom folks have been coming by to read this and I'd love to hear your perspectives in comments (yeah, I know you've been writing about this all over LJ and maybe you're tired of explaining it to outsiders, but in case you aren't, I'm all ears. Or eyes.)]

Q: Can you give us a snapshot of Strikethrough 07, also known as the LJ Purge? What’s the situation?

A: If I had to sum up this entire event within a single metaphor, I would say that what has happened is that certain individuals have treated LiveJournal like Baghdad. In trying to find a few very harmful, dangerous people, those individuals have done a broad sweep of the population, identified a few widely-shared characteristics, and suspended privileges — some might even say rights — with the goal of stopping crime. And like Baghdad, the situation has turned explosive. Residents are unhappy. Some of them were guilty, but most weren’t. Now what remains is the opportunity to find a new, smarter strategy.

To understand the LJ Purge, you have to go back to Friday, May 25. That day, I was preparing for my role as a panelist at Anime North. I didn’t see what LJ user Liz Marcs called “the perfect storm” on the horizon. She describes it excellently at this post. In her post, she attributes the perfect storm to three factors:

1) The controversial statuette of Mary Jane Watson, which ignited outrage on the part of female comics and media fans and earned fandom lots of attention in the process

2) The swirling vortex around FanLib, a for-profit website that a) purports to have invented fanfiction (a piece of misinformation that the women at the Feminist SF blog take great issue with), and b) to syndicate fanfiction from other sites without the author’s permission. For more information, check out Henry Jenkins’ interview with the CEO, and some response to it.

3) A rumour that LJ was being pressured by an outsider group to purge certain journals based on content. Said content might include fanfiction of an illicit nature. Although members of the Abuse team at LJ scoffed at such threats, the rumor persisted. Here’s a link.

As it turns out, the rumor was true. An online group called Warriors For Innocence had contacted advertisers who work with LiveJournal, alerting LJ to content they found offensive, specifically that relating to incest, pedophilia, or child rape. WFI claimed that according to LJ’s Terms of Service, LJ had the mandate to eliminate those journals and communities who listed “incest” and such terms in their interest field. LJ promptly suspended journals and communities without warning, with a total of approximately 500 sites affected — the count is ongoing. However, LJ’s understanding of context proved lacking. Along with actual child pornography sites, several fanfiction communities, legitimate LiveJournals (including those belonging to survivors of incest and child rape), and literary discussion groups were suspended or deleted.

Needless to say, news of the purge spread through LiveJournal like wildfire. Fannish users were warned to change their list of interests, lock down their fanfiction, and close ranks. The “it’s a raid!” meme spread, with a huge amount of backlash. LiveJournal communities were established to fight what many saw as an infringement of civil liberties at worst, or an unforeseen reading of the Terms of Service at best. Reaction was mixed: Many fans felt betrayed by what they saw as LJ’s cave-in to corporate interest, and a subsequent denial of the American First Amendment right to free speech. These fans felt targeted by a bizarre anti-fanfiction Kristallnacht, as though WFI had chosen to throw bricks through the gleaming windows of “Wincest,” (Supernatural) “twin-cest,” (Harry Potter) “Elricest” (Fullmetal Alchemist), “Paire” (Heroes) and other fandoms.

Still others thought that it was unfortunate, but predictable. LiveJournal is owned by the corporation Six Apart. Corporations have no obligations to customers, only to their shareholders. If users have a problem with the way LJ does business, these users argued, there are other services. Moreover, they argued, this is not a First Amendment issue. Rather, it’s part of the complicated relationship between corporations, customers, and special-interest groups. It’s unfortunate that some users suffered, but it’s nothing worth going to war over.

Chairman and CEO of Six Apart, Barak Berkowitz, has since apologized for the snafu, saying “we really screwed this one up.” His apology says that “attempt to clean up a few journals” has “turned into a total mess.” When speaking about WFI, he says: “Even idiots can be right about some things.” His answers have proved remarkably unhelpful for some fans because they do not clearly elucidate what Six Apart or LJ define as “appropriate” and do not outline a plan to protect fans and other users who are not breaking the law:

Further inquiry has occurred at BoingBoing. As a regular BB reader, I suggested the story upon first hearing of it because I thought it might interest co-editor Cory Doctorow, who recently wrote a defense of fanfiction in an editorial for Locus Magazine. Co-editor and NPR contributor Xeni Jardin picked up the lead and ran with it. At the moment, the tech-savvy readers at BB are conducting a homegrown investigation into who exactly is behind Warriors For Innocence. WFI’s spyware-infested site is run on a proxy server through, which leads some readers to believe that they have something to hide. Other LJ users allege that WFI is run by Christians of the homophobic variety.