i disagree with everything you just said.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

monstro hearts nsavio.

last.fm just relaunched their service with all the audioscrobbler built right into it. the new design needs better visual — there's no clear hierarchy and it's hard to find almost anything you're looking for — but it's still a fantastic service for keeping track of what you and your friends are actually listening to. i've got a whole year's worth of data in there; the examined musical life, now with social networking!

a common complaint about social networks is that they make the implicit explicit, forcing people to put relationships into little tiny boxes that forego the subtle intricacies we humans exhibit when we're operating in meatspace. so far, flickr does it best, and "does it best" only because it doesn't pretend to be for any purpose other than photo-sharing with people you know, allowing you to define your relationships with your friends/family by coming to grips with what those terms mean to you within the limited context of picture sharing.

last.fm has taken a different tack, going freeform by letting you drop a sentence between yourself and your pals:

it's true, i do heart nsavio. he's a good guy. got a cute kid, too.

in practice, this method of social tagging is highly amusing but so unstructured as to be essentially useless. i can't say which of my friends get to see which of my songs because there's no simple way to group up my pals and deny them access. nuance may be the stuff of life, but it ain't conducive to batch processing.

which got me thinking: what if there's no real value at all in representing authentic human relationships online? what if simplistic affinity vectors are actually far more meaningful in a networked environment than something that mimics the rich tapestry of my offline existence? because, if i really wanted that, i wouldn't be sitting in front of my computer all the time, would i?


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