Here’s the old news: technology is from Mars, and music is from Venus.
Here’s the new news: They both live happily together on Planet Echo Nest.
Observe, as our own Matt Ogle and EMI's Kara Mukerjee explain how the OpenEMI program allows app developers to build any app they can imagine, using about 12,000 well-known tracks from EMI’s legendary music catalog – Al Green, Beach Boys, Duran Duran, the Blue Note catalog, and much more – and tools provided by The Echo Nest.
The licensing is taken care of. Everybody gets paid. It’s magical. Don’t just take our word for it – “the news” agrees.
Archive Fever, I: Self-publishing, Real-time media and the democracy of social archives
Why is the ‘archive’ so important, both in theory and practice? What is the purpose of the archive? How do we engage ourselves with archives directly and directly, both on an individual and collective level? Who is responsible for the maintenance and improvement of archives?
According to Derrida’s Archive Fever, archives exist to catalogue experiential data for future reference (Murphie, 2011)– on an institutional level, this occurs as political institutions archive and enact their legislation, as banks record account transactions , as museums archive and exhibit artefacts, and as universities collect academic journals (this is by no means an exhaustive list). In the same way, archivisation frames social conduct (Murphie, 2011)– a person’s memory serves as an archive of experiences and habits, which in turn form personality and identity (Howard, 2005). This extends to both the individual’s personal media archives (e.g. photo albums, iTunes libraries, academic certificates) and his engagement in the 'social archives’ (e.g. collective memory, values, 'group identity’) that frame our moral / authoritarian systems.
For me, the most interesting idea in this week’s readings was how social media and self-publishing/-archivisation has reinforced existing ties between memory, identity, technical archives and the social. The technical structure of the archive - that is, the way information is stored, organised and made accessible - determines the structure of the archived content, and the way that all current and future archive contributors approach the creation of content for cataloging in the archive (Howard, 2005). For this to happen, however, these contributors need to have a deep understanding of the purpose of the archive as an archive (i.e. abovementioned technical structure, current and intended future audiences). As long as an archive’s users continue to engage with its interface / stored content, then contributors will continue to expand the archive (Howard, 2005).
Particularly with regard to real-time social media, interfaces are important in the retrieval of archived information. E-publishing platforms (particularly those with a user-centric, self-archival focus) are still learning how to manage and categorise stored data, as well as how to best interface access to this data (Ogle, 2010).
But does a hindered ability to access stored content reduce the quality of the archive by definition?
This depends on how each platform’s purpose is understood. Real-time archives like Twitterfocus solely on the ‘now’ (Ogle, 2010); Facebook, Last.fm, and Tumblr are more facilitative to the self-archivisation (see my personal Tumblr, Twitter, Last.fm and Facebook archives). While Twitter’s core purpose is to facilitate events-reporting and ‘in-the-moment’ publishing; its resources are spent ensuring that users can most easily access recent data (this comes at a cost to archived data) (Ogle, 2010). Previous 'in-the-moment’ data is therefore devalued, as is the site’s ability to exist as an archive of cultural information.
[ Also, these archives also exist as powerful memory aids—but they are structured such that users are able to document events, but not the experiential data referred to in Derrida’s understanding of the archive (Ogle, 2010). ]
Lastly, ongoing user ‘contributions’ to digital and social archives means that people are less engaged with brick-and-mortar archives (e.g. video stores, arcades, libraries) (Howard, 2005). Physical incarnations of the ‘archive’ require content to be selected by a select few archivers; social archives are more democratic, inviting all users to decide on what content is useful / ‘worthy’ of publishing to the archive. Question is: how will this affect the quality and type of content included in future social archives?
Hey everybody: It’s on. The Music Hack Day series arrives in Boston this weekend (November 5 and 6) at Microsoft’s NERD Center, which means it’s time for hundreds of software and hardware geniuses to build functional music apps in a 24-hour period culminating Sunday evening. That’s when they’ll have to stand up in front of the group to present what they’ve made.
To say that these events are exciting is a massive understatement. Where else can you watch people building little bits of the future, live, before your very eyes? Or, if you’re a hacker yourself, where else can you participate in something like this? Yes, there are other hackdays, but only Music Hack Day focuses on music, our favorite topic.
The Echo Nest will be there as usual, showing developers how to use our API and awarding prizes to the best creations that do. And as usual, we will be throwing a party at our company headquarters on Saturday night, for attendees and those hackers brave enough to take enough time off from coding to check it out.
This year, our Boston Music Hack Day party will feature a very special guest: Special DJ Set by Ali Shaheed Muhammad of A Tribe Called Quest. Unfortunately, DJ QuestLove who was slated to come has taken ill and following his doctor’s orders, he had to cancel. We wish him well and we’ll be sure to have him come some other time.