Life as a new media student



Research Blog Numéro Deux

For my second and final research blog I decided I would look at network visualizations on the topic of music, as I would probably find more inspiration for my final project. While digging through VisualComplexity.com I found the Last.FM Taste-o-graph: http://geniol.publishpath.com/last-fm-tasteograph, which was awesome because I am also using the last.fm API for my project.

This application uses the Last.fm API and SpringGraph Flex; an Adobe Flex 2.0 which links items together that share a certain component through lines and data can be outputed in XML or Actionscript.  The Tasteograph essential shows a last.fm user’s ‘web’ of most listened to artists, those using the application can choose other users through a screen name search and hopefully have them link up to the first user shown. The application will then link which artists the chosen last.fm users have in common, the artist’s are displayed through small avatar-esque pictures which last.fm have applied to them surrounding the user’s screen name.  Thin lines are then used to form any sort of connection in the information shown.  The viewer can use their mouse’s scroll button to either zoom in or out on the application screen.

Aesthetically this application isn’t very appealing to me, I would have liked to seen something more abstract to represent the artists and taste similarities between users, but generally speaking it visualizes a very concise message.  I found that once more then three users are added to the Tasteograph the application becomes cluttered and you really have to search to spot the muscial connections between the users, perhaps this could have been fixed by allowing the user to click on two screen names and have those two expand while the others fade more into the background for a more up-front and clean analysis.  Overall though the applications works, it’s fun to see which musical artists you and your last.fm friends have in common through a simple visual network, although last.fm does provide its users with a musical compatability meter…images are always the best way to display information for us ‘visual learners’.

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