DateThursday 25 November 2004

musicplasma.com: find related artists, just like that

Fascinating:
musicplasma.com
. Just type the name of a band in and it draws a map showing… bands who are a bit like them who you might like to hear. (Certainly I’ve listened to pretty much all the bands who turned up for “Radiohead”.)

But how does it work?
(Link via The View From Object Towers – good spot.)

Record stores to landfill 750,000 Band Aid CDs after Christmas

Well, that’s my reaction after (a) hearing this dire revision (see other people’s reaction, which is much the same, at this BBC page and (b) reading BBC News: stores to stock 1m Band Aid CDs.

Pirate networks, digital downloads, and the direness of the song, plus the fact that everyone thinks they themselves are the “cause” (cause yeah but no but Vicky said…), and that they don’t actually know which famine is being relieved by this – Namibia? Somalia?Ethiopia – means this is a turkey.

Oh all right, it might sell. But a simple donation would cause everyone less pain.

“You provide the prose poems..” A little more on the Cornwall hoax

Over at Journalistic, the ed weighs in on how national media got hoaxed by a website: If only the journalists who wrote about the story had gone to Nominet and its site at www.nic.uk they would have been able to get some further background about who is the owner of the domain. A search would have found it was registered to Kirstin Prisk.

Indeed. But that would assume that anyone had ever shown them that there is a way to discover the owner of a domain, and how to do it. I had to teach myself, back when the Web ran on steam power. It is a skill that comes in very handy; yet only a handful of journalists on “Fleet Street” know how to do it, I’d wager.

Then a quick Google for Kirstin Prisk would have turned up a number of matches for a photographer of the same name in Cornwall who shoots waves. After that, they could have contacted Kirstin and see what he knew about this.

One thing this good advice ignores is how newsdesks work. Newsdesks see one excited story written by one excitable journalist somewhere, and dispatch someone to go and do it bigger. If you call and say that actually, that’s not the story (say, you’d talked to surfers who gave you blank looks) they’d just say you were rubbish at finding the real people with axes to grind. To up the stakes some, it’s rather like proving the non-existence of WMDs, faced with lots of Iraqi exiles (say) who insist that there’s a very active program to develop them.

In other words, newsdesks really *do not* like having what sounds like a good story knocked down. Their attitude, to quote my favourite film, is: “You provide the prose poems and I’ll provide the war.”

Comparing search engines, e-government (does it work?) and how bats prove something about sex

This week’s Science and Technology pages are up (have been for a day, but I’ve been busy, and wanted to let people outside Europe and the US tell me if they read this before I block it.

Anyway, I’ve compared the search performance of Google, MSN and Askjeeves (the result may surprise you); Wendy M. Grossman examines the state of UK e-government; and Tim Birkhead on bats, sexual attraction and smell.