TEDx Music: A Network Visualization

Amy Robinson TEDxIstanbul TEDx Music

Over the years, TEDx Music has grown from a small collection of a few songs to an exquisitely diverse curated catalog of over 600 tracks on SoundCloud. Getting music out there is no longer enough – it’s time to build software that facilitates discovery.

Drawing inspiration from network data visualization and systems ecology, we created an interactive map of a world of innovative music. In the talk below from TEDxIstanbul, I show the TEDx Music Map for the first time. We hope to release this soon so anyone can play with it.

What’s next for TEDx Music

TEDx Music releases new tracks every Tuesday. Once we refine the interactive visualization and open it to the public, we’ll begin creating a pipeline that automatically analyzes each new song using Spotify’s Echonest API, populating the viz with new nodes for each performance released. In the future, you’ll be able to see exactly where each new track sits relative to a global catalog.

We’re also working to bring a map-based visualization to life, enabling navigation by location. Imagine zooming into Japan and being able to hear all the music that has been performed in Tokyo.

As for artists, we plan to create a TEDx Musician Map, enabling exploration of the creative minds behind the music. In much in the same way that TED convenes people who share a love of ideas, it’s my hope that TEDx Music becomes a platform for we who love music.

Finally, in the interest of going beyond cool and into something scientific, I’m organizing collaborative research with Berklee College of Music to evolve this music dataviz prototype into a next generation tool through which we burst the filter bubble of music.

Think about it: how do you search for something if you don’t know it exists? This problem plagues the music industry. People discover by blogs, word of mouth, and radio station autoplay recommendations. But what if there was a better way? A way where you actively control your trajectory, where the unknown manifests right before your eyes? That’s where we’re heading. The future may well be an ode to awesome.

TEDx Music Network Visualization, TEDx, TEDx Music
TEDx Music Network Viz, Alpha Version

Huge thanks to TED, TEDx, Zach Zimbler, Eric Berlow, Elena Crescia, Gaurav Gupta, Andrew Karnavas, and Tim Gnass. Also thank you to everyone else who has helped with TEDx Music over the years. And thank YOU for listening. The best is yet to come! Here’s to creating the future we imagine 🙂

Want to get involved in TEDx Music? Email me amy at tedxmusicproject dot com.

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Spark Google+

Google+ is fresh.  I like the ability to curate degrees of filter bubbles. For example, I put everyone in the friend circle and some people in “TED” and “intelligence”.

Hangout.

I am stoked about soon inviting the intelligence circle to a spontaneous gathering.  Think – we could all watch the same TEDtalk in different locations – yet still together – then virtually hang out and discuss.  It’s like Skype, created by Google.

Spark.

Default interests (racecars, recipes, fashion) are easily overcome by searching for anything.  Here are the first couple terms I chose and notable results from the first page of results:

1.  “ideas”  ideas cause ideas

2.  “complex biology” biology of the creative mind

3.  “infographic”  how does a hybrid car actually work? 

I am impressed.

This is an expansion of the social network which already exists in your inbox.  It’s intuitive, which makes me curious to explore its functionality.   I’m excited to play with circles of friends and keep in touch at a distance in a more human way.

Go Google!

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Self-Experiment

Today I start a self-experiment.  For 45 days I will be tracking and sharing health data via this spreadsheet.  Novel parameters such as “the most interesting thing I learned today” and “how many times I stretched for at least 1 minute and less than 30, with corresponding metric of intensity” integrate with more traditional data collection points (weight, BP, exercise etc) in my first attempt at understanding the variability in my life.

The goal is to discover and explore possible correlations between health and creative output.  When I have  a great idea, such as the TEDx Global Music Project, is there something – or a set of things – I did during days prior that set the stage for ideogenesis and the pursuit of the interesting?  What activities do I do but ignore  (for example, the amount of time I spend on my iPhone before bed..)?  How can I compel myself to more wisely utilize my time?  How can I catalyze my evolution from good to great to excellent health?

These questions and more I am exploring in an organized and diligent manner.  Stay tuned to this blog for thoughts, insight and the occasional infographic.

This first phase is “2 weeks to runway ready” (I’m walking in a fashion show July 16th).  It kickstarts with a 100% plant-based diet and strict blend of 3x a week hour-long aerobic and anaerobic exercise.   We have also orchestrated tri-daily mini metabolic boosts, which I’ll share more about in a later post.

I read a fascinating paper by Allen Neuringer calling for more people to engage in self-experimentation, particularly professionals in the psychology field.  As I am experiencing first hand, the difficulty in designing quantified self systems is “exacerbated by our lack of experience in formulating questions about our own behaviors in a rigorous, empirically testable manner,”  Jump in and try it.  Use my spreadsheet if you’d like.  There are lots of resources; check out quantifiedself.com.

I would love your input, encouragement, ideas, suggestions, brainstorms and anything else.  The data is public domain so have at it.   Data viz artists might have a good time playing with this or suggesting amendments to parameters that would streamline info conveyance.  Some parameters would be easy, i.e. the hours of sleep I lose every month because I’m on my damn iPhone.  Hopefully, this will help me streamline myself.

“The solution to many of our problems is a continuous process of discovery and change.”

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Data worth spreading: Why I joined Research Lifestreaming

I just signed up for Research Lifestreaming by Harris Interactive.

This multi-pronged approach to marketing data amalgamation invites intrigue, curiosity, resistance.. I have chosen to give a company the right to access my documented activity across Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIN and WordPress.  They gather information such as posts, my  interactions on facebook, my complete profile information, photos, videos..and no doubt much more.  This is used to trend character attributes and habits, which allows Harris Interactive to profile individuals into groups, such as leaders and followers, based on proprietary algorithms.

The capabilities of Research Lifestreaming are further explained here.  Collected data lends to the creation of surveys and two-way interactions that are tailored to the hundreds of categorizations into which an individual may fall.  Harris Interactive claims this leads to “comprehensive, three-dimensional knowledge of WHO the individual REALLY is.”  Ambitious. Fascinating.

For years I have wanted to see my webdata analyzed and integrated into a cohesive whole.  Now that the opportunity arises, I take it, but not without hesitation.  I wonder how much is recorded; am I signing away web privacy (do they see facebook messages? even, does it matter? etc); have I somehow agreed that my photos, recorded thoughts, ideas and opinions are also the property of this organization?  If you have answers, please share.

On an intellectual property note, read the following:

“By making Monitored Content [data I allow them to compile] available to Harris, you grant Harris, its partners, and clients… the unlimited, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, perpetual right to use, copy, display, perform, distribute, adapt, create derivative works, sublicense, and promote such Monitored Content in any medium and any manner whatsoever, as well as the right to transfer the rights of use to third parties without entitlement to compensation.”

Complete terms and conditions available here.  I understand this is a necessary preventative legal measure and I hope that the trust we participants give this organization to handle our valuable datasets compels Harris Interactive to act in an appropriate and honorable manner.

I overcame an initial hoarding of my online activities and decided that this is the TED thing to do.  “Data worth spreading.”  Have at it, Harris Interactive.  I look forward to learning what you learn about myself and the world.   The claimed scope of Research Lifestreaming raises the question:  does an integration of online activity really unveil who a person is?  I think not, but it is an important step in our deepened understanding of how groups and individuals “exist” in this increasingly digital world.

Please share your thoughts, ideas and opinions.  Would you join Research Lifestreaming?

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Language Implications

A letter in this weeks Economist commented that we “need people who can make something of data and create information to guide decision-making”. This was enough to start a neural avalanche regarding the relation between data and information.

Data quantifies qualities along variable attributes correlating to an “event” or representing a set of “events”.

“Information is data that has been processed in such as way as to be meaningful,” [1,2] Also, “A collection of facts from which conclusions may be drawn” (‘statistical data’) [3]

Meaning signifies implication. “Implication is deductive inferred logical relation. ‘ if p then q: if p is true then q cannot be false'” [4] From quality information we can differentiate complex systems and model them with equations.

Data is fed into our neural system from our senses over time with systemic repetition and correlated via lingual adaptation into information. Information is then relayed off itself, forming concepts (information systems). Concepts are comprised of variable lingual attributes and exhibit meaningful complexity, described by the lingual structure from which they are formed.

Cognition is functionally different across various lingual data systems (concepts), which are then organized within a grammatical framework relative to other concepts. This is self-organization. Might a cohesive pattern emerge in neural functionality if we could see specific neuron systems forming new “concepts” via grammatic relations in order to more efficiently process increasingly complex ideas? Could “more meaningful information” imply a denser Set of data (information) to which the concept could potentially be applied? Our minds create a conscious whole greater than the sum of its parts by processing words into concepts and integrating different concepts to create experientially new thoughts, which are in turn described by new lingual formations and even entirely new words and ideas. This process simplifies the energetic input required to think a difficult thought by utilizing information, rather than data, and compounding meaningful representations of it across multiple meaningful systems. Aristotle’s Holism and Occam’s Razor together make a concept that I refer to as “complex energy density”.

Thoughts from the forefront of theoretical science,

Amy

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