New Media Studies

Entries Tagged as 'umw_nms_s08'

Midomi Outline/ Written Component

April 30th, 2008 · Comments Off on Midomi Outline/ Written Component

Why did you choose Midomi for your project?

I was skimming through an issue of Popular Science a while ago and found an article explaining the concept behind and creation of midomi. Of course, this article was written in response to midomi receiving a Best of What’s New 2007 award. I’ve always been interested in music, and have recently been following technology trends, so I naturally was drawn to the article. I had always meant to look further into midomi and try it out on my own, but never did. This project was the perfect opportunity for me to try midomi out. I promptly went out and bought the cheapest microphone I could find, then found that it wasn’t working! Upon further testing, I realized that it was not the cheapness of the mic (as I had originally assumed) but was, instead, a problem with my laptop. So I have used midomi’s search features and can attest to their accuracy, but this explains both why I have not uploaded any renditions of my own and why I chose to make my creative portion the way I did.

So what is Midomi?

Midomi is the “ultimate music search tool” and is powered by singing, humming, or whistling. It was launched in January 2007 by Melodis Corporation. Melodis was founded by several friends at Stanford University who wanted to develop technology to identify songs that get stuck in your head. Currently there are over 2 million songs for legal download in midomi’s online store. Users have the option of either buying the album from Amazon or downloading songs from iTunes. The site is now available in 10 different languages. In addition to having this search option, midomi is a social networking site. Users can become friends or fans of each other, comment on user renditions, rate songs, write messages, post notes (either through text or audio), post pictures, follow recording artists, and create playlists.

How does Midomi’s search work?

Users can search for songs by using either a traditional text-based artist/song/album search or by singing their own renditions of a song via a microphone connected to their computer. If searching by the latter, users are shown matches according to how well elements of the rendition match up with other songs. Midomi uses a technology developed by Melodis called Multimodal Adaptive Recognition System (MARS). This technology identifies pitch variation, rhythm information, location of pauses, phonetic content and speech content in various songs and matches these with songs in the midomi database. More weight is given to stronger components. For example, phonetic and speech content would play more heavily in the search of songs sung with lyrics than in songs that are hummed or whistled. MARS searches independent of key, tempo, language, or singing quality, which means that you don’t have to be a great singer in order for the search to work! According to Melodis, MARS has 95% accuracy. It makes sense that with the more user submissions that are uploaded to midomi the more accurate the search becomes, since there is more data to search from. MARS is marketed as the future of search, and its creators feel this is the first step towards the day when we will all be able to give commands to our computers just by talking to them. Midomi features an introductory video tour for first-time users showing them how the search works.

How does this relate to what we’ve read?

In “As We May Think” Bush focuses on both the fundamentals of search and the future of recorded speech. He predicts the creation of a machine that is a hybrid of a Vocoder and a stenotype which “types when talked to” (40). He also describes a faster method of searching that narrows down the possibilities by first applying a class, then a subclass, then other subclasses until there is only one possibility left (43). This is reminiscent of MARS technology, where possibilities for song matches are found by applying certain weighted characteristics to the search process. Bush also writes that a more effective way of searching would mimic how humans think. Results would come about by a system of association rather than a system of indexing (44).

In “Man-Computer Symbiosis” Licklider predicts how computers and humans will coexist in the future. According to him computers will perform diagnosis, pattern-matching, and relevance-recognizing tasks. He believed that computers would take a secondary status in these areas (77). Indeed MARS does rely on the input of humans for the search to be effective. Additionally, humans did first specify which components were to be weighted in particular situations in the model that MARS uses. Finally, Licklider predicted in 1960 that speech recognition technologies would take at least 5 years to be developed (77).

Tell me more about the Home page.

This is where you start. Recording options are listed at the top. “My Updates” are updated hourly.

Tell me more about my Profile.

This is where you can see your updates, notes that have been posted to you, photos of yourself, your friends, your fans, your favs, the fan clubs you belong to, and your personal info. You can edit you profile, status, and preferences here, as well as upload photos and listen to your playlists and recordings.

Tell me more about the Studio.

When recording a song for the midomi database users must first identify either the song or artist name. In order for the information about artists to be viewed on midomi, that artist’s information must first appears on allmusic.com. In the case of local or lesser-known artists, this information might not be there.

Tell me more about the midomi Stars page.

This is where the top recordings, top performers, and up and coming performers are listed. Also included are recently playlisted, recently recorded, and recently featured feeds.

Tell me more about the Hot Artists page.

This is where you can view the most active and top recording artists on midomi. These are updated every two weeks. You can also see the top tracks, largest fan clubs, hottest recordings by language, and a “What’s Happening” feed. Here is where you can access artist pages/fan clubs. On individual artist pages the biography, photos, albums, songs, tour dates, and midomi fans of the artist are listed. Similar artists are also listed. User renditions of the artist’s songs are found here. Users may listen to 30 second previews of original songs and have the option of either legally downloading songs from iTunes or purchasing albums from Amazon. Users may post notes to fan club/artist pages and upload photos of the artist to the gallery.

Tell me more about the Explore feature.

Here is where you can see what renditions are available on midomi. You can narrow your search by genre, language, and date recorded. Searching is done in the categories of Recommended, Up and Coming, Top Recordings, Recently Featured, Recently Playlisted, and Fan Clubs (of which you belong). Users can listen to renditions, post notes and comments, share this rendition with friends, and buy the original version. This is a great way to find out about different midomi stars and unusual renditions!

Is there anything else I should know about midomi?

The creators regularly update a blog which addresses user interests and queries. A forum was also launched in 2008 for the same purpose. There is also a standard Help page organized by topics/FAQ. Midomi and Melodis appear to be very open to suggestions and problems from users. Also, there are several career opportunities at Melodis for tech-saavy people. Midomi recently launched a search application for cell phones in 2008.

Why were you allowed to make your creative portion like that? Isn’t it stealing?

Here is an excerpt from the Terms of Use:

You also hereby grant to each user of the midomi Service a non-exclusive license to access your User Submissions through the midomi Service, and to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display, and perform such User Submissions only to the extent as permitted by the functionality of the midomi Service and these Terms. If you desire midomi to prevent other Users from accessing your User Submissions, please remove them as allowed for in the midomi Service. However, we cannot guarantee that your User Submissions will be completely removed from midomi, nor that other midomi Users will not misuse any content that you supply.

And here, from the Privacy Policy:

Any member profile information, media, music, audio recording, image, comment, or any other content posted onto the midomi Service at your direction becomes publicly-published content, is not considered personally identifiable information subject to this Privacy Notice, and may be collected and used by others.

What did you use to make your creative portion?

I used a two-ended jack and plugged it into both my audio and mic holes (um, the pink and green places- excuse my lack of tech lingo). By doing so, I was able to record renditions from midomi. I then listened to the recordings and told my assistant where to edit them/ mix them. He then compiled and edited the versions into one song in Tracktion, which was then converted into an mp3. From there, I decided to make a humorous video using Windows Movie Maker that would accompany the song.

Again, I apologize to everyone that today’s presentation did not go as smoothly as planned. Here is the link to my video on YouTube:

Enjoy!

Tags: umw_nms_s08

Quick Note about the WWW

April 14th, 2008 · 1 Comment

The first thing I thought after reading this essay was, “Wow, I should just give this to my grandparents and the mystery will be over for them!”

Seriously, they both have this vague impression of these acts one does on the internet, and they want to do them too, but we keep having to explain to them what a cursor is, or why they aren’t successfully sending emails…“Um, are you sure the line is blinking after you’ve clicked in that spot?” (She had moved her cursor to the body of the email without clicking, and continued to type an email in the subject line. I think she eventually ran out of space.) My family has honestly spent hours helping them reach this goal of “getting on the internet”. I think they recognize that it must be important, but are clueless as to why this is or how they can take part in it.

This reading reminds me of the earlier texts, in the sense that it shows how the web truly was this novel thing. Having grown up in an era when the internet was, for the most part, integrated into daily life, it’s nice to be reminded of that difference on occasion. If it weren’t for the technical jargon used in the essay, I would photocopy this and send them on their way.

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For: Gwen, re: Jimmy

April 10th, 2008 · 2 Comments

So I wanted to respond back to Gwen about Jimmy, but the comment thing flipped out on me, so here goes:

So about Jimmy…
Because his disabled body rules his life so much, he should even more so face that unfair reality (the fact he is disabled), and by doing so learn to integrate better into society, and maybe by doing that, slowly learn to accept his body’s limitations, but also its abilities. Right now he is cloistering himself away and distancing himself further from others, which I can see being easy for him to do as a teen who is  even more insecure than most others because of his disabilities, but my point is that that’s not healthy- instead of testing to see what he is capable of actually doing, he is indulging in a false ‘perfection’ that juxtaposes harshly with what is actually true. I do feel for little Jimmy, and I hate predicting how that kid’s going to be five years from now (then?)-I assume even more socially distant, locked into this fantasy world, limited to this.

P.S.- Marty is most definitely a geek, and he stresses me out just reading about him!
P.P.S- Maybe I am just a heartless bitch. A possibility, perhaps. But really I think people should be pushed.

Tags: umw_nms_s08

It’s Important to Me that You Know You are Free

April 9th, 2008 · 2 Comments

 …and I’m not sure this “holding power” is a good thing. It’s too easy for people to get locked into video games, even if they get there by their own volition.

While Turkle’s essay is interesting to me in that it goes into more detail as to why some people are drawn intensely to video games, I don’t find myself convinced that they are comparable in worth to (or rather, are adequate substitutes for) other recreational activities, specifically sports and other more traditional form of gaming. In fact, a number of the reasons/ anecdotes that were used to evidence the positive ‘holding power’ of games appeared to me to be demonstrating, instead, the negative consequences of this holding power.

The first of these involves Marty, the economist. Turkle writes

“Video games allow Marty to feel swept away and in control, to have complete power and yet lose himself in something outside. The games combine a feeling of omnipotence and possession- they are a place for manipulation and surrender.”

How Marty uses video games is all too reminiscent of more traditional forms of addiction. I don’t think that separating one’s life into such distinct areas (neurotic Marty v.  empowered Marty) is healthy, especially if that empowerment is false and is not applied to aspects of his life that do not involve video games.

I have a similar problem with the way Jimmy uses video games:

“Jimmy doesn’t think of the game in terms of losing or winning. ‘For me the game is to see how long I can be perfect. Every day I try to be perfect for ten minutes longer.’”

Jimmy feels insecure and uncomfortable in public. Isolating himself from a world which he can not relate to places him in even more of a position as an outsider. Even if he physically cannot participate in sports, he can still try to interact more with others. I can see no way in which playing video games alone is going to help him come to terms with either the reality of society or his place in it. Instead, video games appear to be polarizing his life, as was the case with Marty.

Finally, Turkle writes about David, the lawyer:

“David likes video games when they can serve as the perfect mirror, the perfect measure of who he is…He wants reassurance that he can handle things. The games are his test.”

Testing hand-eye coordination? Check. Adapting to levels? Check. Ability to handle a wife and kids? Check…what?! I have a hard time understanding how video games are a good measure of what one is able to handle/ accomplish in one’s life.

However, I can see how video games have a place in our society, and how they have the potential to be beneficial. Although in these cases that Turkle writes about, I notice more their potential for misuse. This is not to say that this latter potential is not present in other human activities, such as the sports I mentioned earlier (unhealthy competition, use of steroids), but I do feel that it is best to not “wall the world out” (Marty’s words).  

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Immigrant

March 31st, 2008 · 1 Comment

So I’ve been reading what class responses have been posted thus far, and it’s safe to say that part of the reason why this story is so interesting is because of its layers and complexity within these layers: the current immigration debate, future utopian (distopian?) worlds, humanity as it relates to computers, humanity in a broader sense…I found myself jumping back and forth between these topics as I was reading, and I’m still impressed at how smoothly Simak approaches all of these broad concepts and fits them into one short story. Even if I wasn’t taking this course, or wasn’t trying to read that much deeper into the text, I still would think that this was a cool concept for a story. I think I’ll sleep on it and see if my mind has made any more connections or questions for tomorrow. I’m excited to hear what everyone else thinks about this. Oh yeah, for some reason this part stuck out to me.

 

“Start thinking about suicide. That’s a sure-fire way to do it. Presto, you’re kicked upstairs to a better suite of rooms. Anything to keep you happy.

You mean the Kimonians automatically shift you?

Sure. You’re a sucker to stay down there where you are.”

 

It’s funny that Maxine says this, since, according to Bishop’s revelation, she would be one of those suckers.

Tags: umw_nms_s08

Illich and Viola Again- The Potential for Education

March 24th, 2008 · 4 Comments

I feel that we’ve arrived halfway at some of the points, or resources, that Illich mentions in his essay.

“The operation of a peer-matching network would be simple. The user would identify himself by name and address and describe the activity for which he sought a peer. A computer would send him back the names and addresses of all those who had inserted the same description. It is amazing that such a simple utility has never been used on a broad scale for publicly valued activity.”

Sounds promising, right? But a few paragraphs later…

“We must, of course, recognize the probability that such public matching devices would be abused for exploitative and immoral purposes, just as the telephone and the mails have been so abused. As with those networks, there must be some protection. I have proposed elsewhere a matching system which would allow only pertinent printed information, plus the name and address of the inquirer, to be used. Such a system would be virtually foolproof against abuse. Other arrangements could allow the addition of any book, film, TV program, or other item quoted from a special catalogue. Concern about the dangers of the system should not make us lose sight of its far greater benefits.”

Well, I guess humans are just exploitative by nature. This reminds me of the Viola reading, in the sense that we have all of these new opportunities and resources available to us for progress, yet have mostly failed at realizing their potential. Instead of using Facebook or Myspace as communication tools between persons possessing a certain skill set, personal pages have been carved out and used for self-promotion or indulgences.

These data space condominiums may have different wallpapers and genres of music playing on our embedded players, but these are not substantial differences, or evidence that we’ve explored all the various possibilities of these tools.

For the majority of people these spaces are used for basically the same purposes: chat about last night’s party, fiddle around on applications, or check out the pictures from last night’s party. All of it’s amusing, and most of it is fluff, but we already knew that. After all, these things are attractive to us- but so are other easy, seemingly mindless, entertaining things, like going to dance parties or watching Rush DVDs.

This is not to say that these social networking sites are incapable of bringing strangers together for educational purposes, or that no one currently uses these sites for these capabilities. I get the impression, though, that most of the people using these sites for those purposes are individuals who have already completed their formal schooling. I wonder how many high school or college-aged people would go for a more serious social networking site, and, if so, how effective it would be. Would solid educational connections be forged? I’m not entirely sure. Back to gawking at Neil Peart…

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Viola and the Potential of Data Space

March 24th, 2008 · 1 Comment

I’ve been thinking about the porcupine from the parable in Viola’s essay. Sure, he was wrong in thinking that his defensive “raspy hissing” was the reason why the car-beast backed down. However, all evidence pointed to his actions producing the result he desired. He had no reason to believe his approach was wrong in this situation, or that he didn’t deserve to be “walking proudly away”.

 So, if the porcupine can represent those people who are resistant to new forms of art or media (I guess, more specifically, digital and video art), I wonder: what makes these people unwilling to try another approach? Also, what evidence out there makes these people think in this way, or see technologies mostly as opportunities for repetitions of the same structures, masked by differences in style or layout (as is the case for potential condominiums in data space)? Do we think there is a difference between commercialism and the artist, or are we just fooling ourselves? I hope I’m making at least a shred of sense here. I felt that I was getting closer to understanding the full scope of what Viola is talking about during last class, and I especially appreciated the comparison between computer and genetic coding. Looking forward to see if anyone else wants to continue the discussion tomorrow.  

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What Happened to Habitat

March 17th, 2008 · 2 Comments

When reading about Habitat, I kept thinking about two things: The Sims and The Palace. So I missed the boat on most video games, and I can admit I get confused when faced with more options than are available in Goldeneye, which is one of the only 3-D games I can handle. Basically, I don’t have the patience for anything beyond “choose weapon, kill opponent in this limited area”. People think I’m just indulging my nostalgia when I suggest we play SuperMarioKart, but it’s honestly one of the few games I can win at.

However, there was a period of time in middle school when I was a computer fiend. During this time I would play The Sims and frequent The Palace, so luckily I could relate to what these authors were talking about. Obviously The Sims relates back to the authors’ suggestion that future programmers, with higher computational abilities, allow users to interact with and tailor their environment. Specifically, the house building and decorating aspect of the game comes to mind. I would have to say The Palace was the more obscure of these obsessions, and also the dorkier. It was a bootleg prototype of Second Life, had shoddier graphics, and probably was one of those things I shouldn’t have been on when I was that age. But the community of avatars really reminded me of what the LucasFilm article was about.

I’ve read some of the blog posts thus far, and I agree with the idea that getting worked up over virtual murder is absurd, especially since all they lose is what’s in their pockets. Were earlier users just naive, or was it even naivety? Did they just genuinely care about maintaining a community of trust? Are we the jaded ones, or was their outburst unrealistic and, again, absurd? Must virtual communities be democratic in the first place, or even safe? Hmm, there’s an idea… a slummy alternate gaming reality…but have we accomplished this already with Grand Theft Auto? So many questions, I think I’ll sleep on them.

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So I have this obsession with nesting dolls and pockets and boxes within boxes

March 13th, 2008 · Comments Off on So I have this obsession with nesting dolls and pockets and boxes within boxes

Trust that I’m going somewhere with this. The computer as a frame makes sense to me, but even more so the idea of computers as frames holding frames holding frames…just look at the tabs on your browser, or the refresh icon, or Wikipedia- and these are just internet examples. Pulling up the Start menu and expanding more and more rightward as you explore your programs is an example of frames within frames. Programs themselves are frames. Several reasons were mentioned in class as to why comics are so appealing: they are visually engaging, mimic the reality we experience, are more easily accessible than text, and generally do a very good job of holding one’s attention, considering text in an essay or novel is displayed on the same medium as a comic book or strip, a 2-D piece of paper. Just as humans respond to visual stimuli, other humans, and facets of reality that are easily relatable or recognizable (as in scenes in movies or comics), perhaps we also subconsciously respond to the visual order and idea of frames within frames. Nesting dolls and boxes within boxes are satisfying to me because of their order, the signal to me that Part A goes with Part B, so this other part must also go with this other part- every component has its place, and each component is significant, but more so in conjunction with all the parts together. At the same time, there is an element of novelty that goes along with these, just as there is that same element in comics and computers. I could minimize all web pages (frames) except for one I maximize, just as I can fit all the nesting dolls within one another but keep one stage out and standing on its own. If I was really creative, I could mix up their order when standing them in a line, just as comics can jump from frame to frame more creatively than we usually assume (i.e. the fishing of the wallet in McCloud). This visual appeal and order go hand in hand, though perhaps on a subconscious level.

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Midomi Prospectus

March 12th, 2008 · Comments Off on Midomi Prospectus

After some microphone malfunctioning, I finally was able to use Midomi effectively this past break. In my written component/presentation I’d like to discuss the background/history of Midomi and explain exactly what it is, how it works, and what results turn up when it is used. Here, I’ll discuss the practical issues associated with Midomi, such as if there are similar programs out there or if there are any copyright issues here (if there aren’t any, then how do they get around them? What measures have they taken?)

I’m also going to discuss the technical side of Midomi. The specific element of search will be tied back to our reading on Bush. Additionally, I’d like to relate the idea of Licklider’s  Man-Computer Symbiosis to Midomi, though I don’t expect to go into as much detail as I will during my focus on Bush (I think that search will end up figuring pretty largely into this).

 

A number of people seem to be skeptical of Midomi, and with good reason- it’s still in its beta version, and there are plenty of mixed reviews out there on the web. I plan on addressing issues of its effectiveness: how accurate is it, how it deals with differences in speed, pitch, timbre, etc. I may rely on class demonstrations during my presentation, reviews I’ve found on the web, or data from informal research conducted prior to my presentation (or, maybe a combination of all three).

The thing I’m most struggling with now is the creative aspect of my project. The obvious thing would be for me to create a Midomi page, or use the program to upload my versions of songs, which is a key component of Midomi. I’m keeping this open as an option, but I’d really like to do something a bit more creative with it. One idea is to incorporate that informal research I mentioned above into a video I can upload and show during my presentation. Basically, tape people as they try out the same few songs on Midomi, making sure to get a variety of different voices- at the end, I’ll have documented how well Midomi really works. Actually, a more creative idea just came to me- see if I can gather multiple versions of the same song that have been uploaded by users, and make these into a remix or some sort of artwork, maybe coupled with something visual, maybe a video…yeah, I think I will do something creative like this. If anyone is reading this and has any further questions about Midomi that they’d like covered in the presentation, or have any more ideas for the creative section of this project, then leave a comment and let me know!

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