September 2007


Orpheus Logo
Explore the Musical Universe

Orpheus Visualizer
A Dynamic Graph of Artists

Despite my Waldorfian upbringing, I’m not schooled on the details of Greek mythology – otherwise I’d attempt a wise crack along those lines.

But rather than embarrass myself, I’ll just put it like this: My Master’s thesis from UC Berkeley’s iSchool (then S.I.M.S.) was a music exploration and discovery tool called Orpheus. It was well received in 2005, and ever since I’ve been promising/threatening to resurrect it and try to improve some of the more compelling features and turn them into a web-based application. This latter part is in the works, but the first two steps were to get the Orpheus server installed and running, and make the Exploration Tool/MP3 Player client available for download. These two steps, I’m thrilled to announce, are completed!

Orpheus is all about mining a wide variety of information about music from Internet sites like Last.FM, Pitchfork Music, and Wikipedia; from structured sources like MusicBrainz and Freebase; from users’ music libraries, and from user contributed metadata, and turning this information into knowledge that can be used to discover new artists and explore the musical universe in novel ways. It’s about finding compelling new means of exploration and discovery.

As several of our professors pointed out at the time, our approach could prove useful for exploring the corpora around many other types of media – books, academic articles, movies, etc. But my primary joy and passion is music, so music is the first and foremost focus of this project.

Without further delay, you can download the Orpheus client and start using it right away. If you are new to Orpheus, you might benefit from watching this slideshow first. Before you get too excited, the rich information that Orpheus collects hasn’t been updated in a while (I’m working on adding new feeds and cleaning up the feeds we currently have). So you might not find too much about new artists in Orpheus at the moment. But don’t let that stop you! Please be sure to contact me with any problems or bugs you encounter. And stay tuned for updates and new features.

Enjoy!

Olive DJ Booth
View From the DJ Booth @ Olive

The infamous Jeannie Yang and I will be trading off on the turntables at Olive tonight. Drop by for a drink, some delicious food and good music. Olive is under new ownership, and they have a revamped menu and some new faces behind the bar, but the same great vibe and tasty stuff. Jeannie will be spinning her eclectic house records, and I’ll be augmenting her set with intermittent old school hip-hop, soul, funk and anything else that pops into my head. I’ll be aided by the wonders of my new toy, Serato Scratch Live. Come check it out!

I’ve been contributing regularly enough on the greatwhatsit blog that I shouldn’t really consider myself “guest” blogging over there (As I’ve done in the past). I’m really a contributor there. My posts appear occasionally as part of the “West Coast Wednesdays.” I will try to post here before hand to give reader(s) a head’s up.

Today’s post is a critique of the Burning Man festival. I was originally going to just poke fun at how seriously the BM clique takes themselves, but after giving it a bit more thought, I realized that I actually had some criticisms of the festival. Have a read and enjoy! If you are going to comment, please do so over on TGW.