Musicplasma – the music visual search engine

Posted by jerry on May 12th, 2004 — Posted in Journal, New media, Technology

Now here is a site you have to check out! It’s a search engine showing links between musicians. the interface is great! it displays results like a 3D fly-through so you get the sense of being inside the data. The site is called musicplasma – you just enter the name of a musician or band and up come the results, along with all the other musicians that have been associated with that band. It’s real six degress of separation stuff 🙂

The interface looks as though it owes something to an early alternative interface design called HotSauce, developed by Ramanthan v. Guha while he was at Apple Research in the early-mid 1990s.

Hotsauce interface
An example of the HotSauce interface

Guha’s aim was to produce a feeling of flying through the data stream to provide a visual representation of web pages in space. I remember having a go with it – must’ve been about 1996 – when a version was released in MacFormat magazine on a 3.5″ floppy disk. It was great fun, but I found it tricky to get back to places I’d been to once I’d flown past. Somehow HotSauce never quite caught on, but it clearly laid some important groundwork for data visualisation and interface design. The latest iteration of Guha’s concept is actually quite useable – check out Map Net which uses more of a terrain metaphor. It is certainly easier to become oriented in the information. Guha is a technical adviser on – who have developed the map net technology.


Book a Minute

Posted by jerry on May 11th, 2004 — Posted in Journal, Writing

As the blurb says – who has the time to read a whole book these days? The bods at Book-A-Minute have ultra condensed a whole bunch of classics, sci fis, even movies down to a bare sentence or two – it’s a great hoot!



More recording

Posted by jerry on May 10th, 2004 — Posted in Music, Technology

Phew what a night!

Another night another track down – this time it’s a set of Irish jigs: Freize Britches and Lark in the Morning

You can find the music for these in although the versions we use are from the Adelaide Celtic Music club repertoire from about thirty years ago – the same source as Suzette Watkins and Chris O’Conner’s “Begged Borrowed and Stolen” tune book.

Fairly happy with the result – and the Tracktion software is a breeze to use! I highly recommend this application. It accepts VST filters and is truly drag and drop. And everything you need is on the desktop – not hidden behind layers of menus.

Still have to put the bass tracks down, but we have three or four quite useable tracks now, and that with probably three or four songs should give us a fair demo CD for the festival crowd and to generally secure us a bit more work.

Must get some sleep now.

Canberra – signs of winter

Posted by jerry on May 10th, 2004 — Posted in Journal, Travel, Writing

Yup, Winter is on the way – you can tell, because the road signs start to show how the wildlife has adapted to the weather conditions…

Kangaroo on skis sign

But it’s also interesting to see how people interact with signs and in the process add layers of meaning.


Cuneiform – the birth of an interface standard?

Posted by jerry on May 9th, 2004 — Posted in Journal, New media, Technology, Writing

There seems to have been something of a debate regarding a shift in assumptions about how cuneiform scripts were to be read, whether left-to-right or top-to-bottom in columns. Some argue that top-to-bottom makes more sense given certain assumptions about the way the stylus would have been held.

According to Madelaine Fitzgerald of UCLA (see the short paper in the link above) there does appear to have been a protocol to allow readers to identify the direction of reading. This involved the use of holes in the clay tablets to allow them to be held on a string – and if the tablet were raised on the string it would fall in a way that would indicated the reading direction, thus distinguishing between the earlier cuneiform scrpts of the Old period Babylonians (which ran in vertical columns) to those of the later period which ran horizontally.

And then there remains the question of why the Babylonians changed direction of their script from columns to lines. Fitzgerald gives a tantalising hint that it may have been because of the international climate of the time – ie to bring Babylonians in line with contemporary practices in other (more economically powerful) neighbours. What this seems to indicate is the application of an internationally agreed interface standard to facilitate ease of communication.