June 24, 2004

Music Plasma

Music Plasma is a website that groups musicians in spatial diagrams, for example Norah Jones near Eva Cassidy and Diana Krall, with Frank Sinatra not too far away. Sizes of the nebulas surrounding the group name indicate relative popularity. The goal is to try and help you identify artists that you might be find listenable. If you like X and Y, and Z's close to both in Music Plasma's map, you'll probably like him as well.

The site's interesting as it is, but t I'd like to know they're coming up with the data. Are they determining relationships via polls (what do you like?) or revealed preference (what, according to sales records, did you actually buy?) How are they using to determine popularity; sales on Amazon? Radio play? The site is European based, so some of the oddities may deal with the popularity of a group in Europe versus the U.S.

The proper term for this kind of relationship grouping is cladistics. This is a big thing in Biology, where figuring out how X is related to Y is pretty fundamental stuff. Back in my GW days, I spent some time helping one of my favorite professors set up a SAS program to try and figure out how some subspecies of milkweed ought to be grouped. I can't remember the results, but the graphs produced were nifty!

Hat tip: Blackfive.

Posted by jeffreyb at June 24, 2004 10:59 PM
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