Friday, 26 September 2008

Apple's Genius points the way for RM2.0

In Chapter 9 of ‘Managing the Crowd’ I make the point that “Largely as a result of … technical advances, we now live in a world defined by information storage; ours is now a culture in which size most definitely matters. Just take each new generation of iPod that hits our shops. Have you ever seen an improved ability to decide what tracks you want to delete quoted as a selling point? No. The fact that it now has a 16Gb memory, compared with the 8Gb available last year, or the 4Gb the previous year, however, most definitely is”.

In this context it was interesting to read over the weekend that iPod will no longer be selling their 160GB iPod Classic. As the Daily Telegraph puts it, “ (perhaps) people have realised that, although the iPod has the potential to put their entire CD library in their pocket, they only ever listen to a few hundred favourite songs”. So maybe there are limits to our love affair with storage after all.

More interesting still, particularly in relation to Records Mgt 2.0, is the new ‘music-recommendation engine’ which the new Nano has built into it. According to the article by Claudine Beaumont Genius will scan through your music collection looking at genres, the number of albums and songs you have by a particular artist, as well as the ratings you have given them. It will also look at the characteristics of the song itself, such as beats per minute… (it then) beams it back to the iTunes mothership. From there, it is able to build dynamic playlists of other recommended tracks, based not only on your library, but that of other iTunes users with similar tastes”.

So here we have the appraisal of large volumes of content based on information value and decided by a combination of both user opinion and user behaviour. Plus a system which combines the views and actions of the individual with those of the broader user community to provide a more informed analysis based on the ‘wisdom of the crowd’. Well whad’ya know. If we were talking about online business records, rather than music records, I’d say that Apple have just taken a pretty big stride towards realising Records Management 2.0.


Bernadette in Australia said...

Maybe I'm old and grumpy but I hope you're wrong based on my experience of Genius. While I have my fair share of well known artists my music library is full of things Apple doesn't understand like Australian artists and artists I've gotten into via podcasts (i.e. largely unlicensed or CC licensed music). If I try using it on a specific song that Genius has never heard of it spits back a "hey sucker that song isn't rated by 9 million people so it must be awful" (at least that's how I interpret the 'can't find anything' message) or it provides completely incompatible songs (some kind of rap song about a man's unnatural relationship with his car was the top match for Crowded House's Not the Girl You Think you are despite the fact there is not a single rap song among my 3000+ song library). I remain to be convinced that the crowd is particularly wise ;)

Steve Bailey said...

Hi Bernadette,

Good to hear from you and your first hand experiences of using Genuis. Obviously, as you will have realised, my posting was not intended as a recommendation of Genius per se, but an observations about the apparent parallels between how Apple are beginning to approach the organisation of large scale music collections and how I have been suggesting we might approach the organisation of records and other information hosted online.

Hopefully the limitations you point to only reflect teething problems specific to the Genius application and don't necessarily undermine the basic assertion.