Four Pillars: Thinking about Generation M info consumption models

With over 12 gig of music in my iTunes, I’ve been playing with different approaches to choosing what to listen to. And trying to learn from them, taking a vicarious look at what Generation M may do.

Why? I think I’m straitjacketed, anchored and framed with my own experience, and (whether I want to admit it or not) more set in my ways than I think. But my personal corruption and inertial thought is probably more to do with classic information than multimedia information, so maybe I can stretch myself by using music as the proxy for my “information”, pretend to be Generation M for a short while. (Before my kids throw me out, screaming with laughter and ever-so-slightly embarrassed).

There’s one more reason. Something I remembered from one of Steve Job’s classic And Another Thing sessions. Probably the Panther one, when he suggested they’d been thinking of doing something about search, then realised they’d already solved it, for iTunes. And so to Spotlight.

You don’t have to agree with him. You don’t even have to like Apple. But thinking about how people access music today, how they might do so tomorrow, how they might want to do it the day after tomorrow, surely that’s worth while.

So what can I do today?

  • I can pick something out explicitly. Choose a song.
  • I can make a bulk selection. Album. Artist. Recently loaded. Recently played. Playlist. Most frequently played.
  • I can choose a sequencing rule rather than a selection, ordering the population a particular way. Alphabetical. Number of plays. Even random.
  • I can do some of these using someone else’s choices or rules, if they’ll let me. His playlist. Her most frequently played. Our collectively most recently loaded.
  • I can even do weird things like order the items by size, select a start point and then play. This is what I’ve been doing recently, puts a slightly different spin on random. It is random, yet I can inspect what’s coming. Choose a start point accordingly.

Something for us to mull over. I haven’t even begun to add collaborative filtering and voting-based refinements and commonsense boolean operations and the heuristics that can be applied. I haven’t really started documenting the mashup mindset hitting enterprise information. Or the impact of mobility. Or of telephony becoming software. All later.
But I know already that I would want to train graduates and new hires using some variant of the playlist and the most frequently played concepts.

Comments welcome.

3 thoughts on “Four Pillars: Thinking about Generation M info consumption models”

  1. Is iTunes truly the gold standard as an access paradigm? What I really want to train graduates and new hires in is not the playlist but the idea of unbounded association. iTunes hasn’t got it down…yet. We’re still limited by the traditional metadata about the song. It doesn’t get at semantic information. When you build an unbounded association tool, it allows the user to pursue intuition. If you can uncover associations between things that aren’t necessarily obvious, and then pursue that metadata to guide you, that’s when you really get ideas to collide. Frequently-played or Amazon’s “people who liked this also liked…” starts to hint at the power of this concept. Apply this to Enterprise 2.0 and you can start to see how free association could possibly engender collaboration and value-creation on a completely different scale.

  2. I didn’t suggest it as a gold standard, more as a snowball. At the end of the post I make the point there is a lot more to come: that collaborative filtering a la Firefly and then Amazon, voting systems like with StumbleUpon, heuristics as suggested by Autonomy et al, Boolean operations and search-results-level manipulation a la Copernic, taste-sharing as in or pandora, tag-based grouping as in flickr and technorati, there’s a whole plethora of stuff to bring in. And then we have co-creation and mashups.

    iTunes is definitely not the gold standard. But if we’ve lived with 80% market dominators defining the desktop and single-user productivity tools for two decades, we could do worse than look at the 80% market dominator for entertainment today.

    So you’re on the right track.

  3. Right. I missed the “All later.” We’re in alignment; there’s much more that we can do and the ipod’s not a bad starting point. As for the enterprise, the truly revolutionary will find a way to explore co-creation, mashups, et al in a business intelligence construct.

Let me know what you think

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