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).

iLike’s CEO on the Wonders of Facebook Integration

iLike’s Facebook application continues to add hundreds of thousands of listeners every day. As I write it’s got just under 2.2 MILLION users just 2 weeks after its launch. In contrast,’s official application has 62,000 and MOG’s even fewer. The other day I speculated on whether this had led to a decline in visits to Ali Partovi, iLike CEO, explained in the comments that:

a) given the explosive growth on Facebook, we intentionally disabled various aspects of — including all email notifications, newsletters, etc — deliberately hoping to temporarily reduce our traffic to conserve server capacity for our Facebook app.

b) despite these efforts, the massive Facebook traffic caused daily outages all last week, not only on Facebook’s own servers but also on ours, taking out both the iLike FB app and

While I won’t be surprised to see a time when users are “switching” in significant numbers to use iLike on Facebook, I don’t think that’s happening yet.

As of now, the users of still greatly outnumber the users of iLike on Facebook (perhaps not for long!). Also, we have not yet announced our Facebook app to the iLike mailing list, nor have we interlinked the two databases — so users on can’t (yet) easily switch their accounts over to Facebook. As these things change over the coming weeks, it will be interesting to watch — indeed a lot of users might switch permanently to using iLike on Facebook instead!

My curiosity was piqued by this last sentence, and especially it’s enthusaistic tone, as though people leaving for iLike-the-Facebook-application might be a GOOD thing. So I followed up on that, and here’s our conversation:

Nancy: It sounds from your comment like iLike would be quite content to have its users using the site from within Facebook vs going to Is that right? And what are the implications of that for how sites like iLike operate in the future?

Ali: Well, we know that iLike’s functionality, no matter how good on its own, can be even better when deeply integrated in to the Facebook platform. Although we’ve barely started the migration of functions from to Facebook, already we can tell that iLike on FB will be *better* for the consumer than on its own.

Having accepted that, the rest writes itself. There’s no way we’d try to fight an uphill battle against what’s best for the consumer. And fortunately, in contrast to the precariously-balanced “Myspace widget ecosystem,” making $ on the FB platform is no harder than making $ on our own site. In fact, the business model doesn’t change at all — the only difference is that it will take more effort to build and maintain multiple versions of our site (especially if we need to support more than one such platform, if FB’s competitors create equivalent platforms of their own).

N: In what ways do you think iLike on FB is “better for the consumer?” How is its functionality improved through FB integration?

A: The #1 way people discover music is through friends, and iLike’s mission is to facilitate that. Facebook enhances this in two key ways: 1) instant personalization. On our dot-com site, each new user needs to tell us their music tastes, invite their friends, and get those friends to tell us their tastes. Whereas on our Facebook site, we already know your tastes, your friends, and their tastes, so we can offer you a personalized experience automatically. 2) Not another social network. People don’t wanna go somewhere separate just for music — they want music to enhance their existing online social life. For example: where would you rather see a notification that your buddies are going to see Snow Patrol: on a separate music website, or in the Facebook news feed that you’re already checking five times a day?

N: As I understand it, right now iLike Facebook users are not linked to users, so people might be running 2 accounts with you. Is that right? And if it is, will the accounts eventually be linked?

A: That’s correct — people’s existing accounts on are not (yet) linked to their accounts on Facebook. This is an interim situation that we’ll hopefully resolve in a few weeks. We had only a few weeks to build iLike on Facebook so we postponed some of the bigger tasks… what you see today is just the beginning!

N: I’ve heard that the main source of iLike revenue is through Ticketmaster. Is that accurate (and hence why it doesn’t matter where on the web iLike users are using iLike)?

A: As an ad-supported site, we can make as much money on our Facebook app as on our own dot-com site — perhaps even more! Regardless of which site you visit, we can learn your tastes, recommend new music or concerts to you, provide links for you to buy, collect affiliate fees, and show you ads along the way. In fact, on our Facebook app, we know more about you, so we should be able to make more money by showing you more relevant ads.

N: You’re suggesting you see iLike eventually operating through multiple sites, not just Facebook. Are there any plans in the works to launch applications for other platforms?

A: There’s no other platform out there (yet) that remotely approaches what Facebook offers today. Will Facebook’s competitors successfully launch something competitive? That’s the Web2.0 question of the year. Strategically, I don’t love being dependent on a single platform; but I’m also not sure the market has room for another. There’s an enormous network effect that favors everything on the same platform.

N: It seems that particularly in the last few months we’re seeing increasing trending toward the fusion of what used to be multiple sites — startpages, widgets, Facebook applications. Do you have any general thoughts or insights on the opportunities and challenges of this trend?

A: I see it as not just a trend, but an epic Darwinian clash between platforms. Over ten years we’ve seen the gradual evolution of a “widget syndication” model, where companies push features out into embeddable snippets. Against that gradual trend, the Facebook platform is a massive evolutionary leap: rather than extending my website through widgets, I can now build an entirely new, more powerful site from scratch with the awesome building blocks that Facebook offers. Which approach is better? Only time will tell, but my prediction is that those who embrace Facebook’s platform will beat those who don’t. I don’t see Facebook’s Platform as part of a trend in the evolution of widgets, except in the sense that the emergence of mammals was part of a trend in the evolution of giant reptiles.

N: Finally, are there any other things you think I (and Online Fandom readers) ought to know about iLike that I haven’t asked about?

N: It’s amazing that our Facebook app has gone from zero to 2 million users in less than two weeks… I don’t know of any new technology in history growing that fast. And we’ve only just begun :)

iLike – – MOG Facebook Smackdown!

It’s been about 10 days since Facebook debuted its applications and the clear winner is iLike, which has well over a million users. It’s taking turns with the Mobile platform at the top of the most-users list:

picture-3.png, who lost a week while getting their app ready to go, are rising quickly but far far behind with just over 40,000 users:


If you’re REALLY bored it’s kind of fun to spend a couple of minutes looking at the ‘most used applications’ list. You can refresh continuously and watch the numbers climb. Last night was picking up about 5 users per refresh while iLike was picking up around 20.

MOG’s application which launched the same day as iLike’s, meanwhile, is floundering. It peaked at just over 20,000 users and now seems to be losing users at a rapid rate. This morning Facebook says it has about 5,400 users. Ouch Update: In comments David Jennings points out that there are 2 MOG applications, and the one that had 20,000 users now has around 22,000. My error. Sorry and thanks for the catch David!


I wondered what implications the success of a Facebook application has on the website itself. So I bopped over to Alexa. I don’t trust their numbers very much in an absolute sense, but as a means of comparing one site to another at least most of the biases are going to be comparable (though I wonder about the international distribution of Alexa’s data points and how that affects this). Anyway, it’s the best data we’ve got I think, flaws and all.

When you compare these three sites over the last three months, it looks suspiciously as though all those new users on Facebook might be pulling users away from itself. Below are the comparative graphs for iLike,, and MOG in terms of reach and rank. You can see that is higher than the others (though the difference is much less than it used to be), but look at what happened to iLike in recent days. Not only does it seem to be dropping dramatically, MOG has overtaken it in rank.



As a social scientist I know better than to conflate correlation with causality. There could be several interpretations of these figures. But it certainly makes me wonder if iLike users are switching to using the application within Facebook rather than going to the iLike site. Some sites, like ReverbNation, have designed themselves to be most successful when spread throughout the internet. Is iLike such a site? What are the implications for destination sites if integration with other destination sites means loss of their own traffic?

I think we will see more and more of this sort of merging of multiple sites into one at user discretion. Pageflakes, iGoogle, and other start pages are doing this. I waxed about my dream of doing this (only better) here. But it requires new ways of thinking about what it means to be a successful internet company.

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!