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.

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