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Entries by Chris Loosley (7)


How Good Is That Playlist?

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Playing Music's Long Tail

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Music Tempo and Genre as Playlist Factors

It's rare that a day passes in our house without music being played somewhere. But because we're now working on the launch of Syntonetic's Moodagent playlisting application for iPhone and iPod Touch, I've been spending even more time than usual listening to my own music, thinking about playlists, and what makes a good one.

In my previous post I wrote about the digital music dilemma: when you've accumulated so much digital music that you can't remember all the tracks in your library, how do you decide what to play? Picking tracks at random can sometimes be interesting, but it doesn't work when you want to hear a particular kind of music.

In this post I look at music tempo and music genre as two possible characteristics that might be useful in creating a playlist that is less random.

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All I Have to Do Is ... Play Music

Illustration: Everly Brothers

Music has always been important in my life. But lately, because we're working on Syntonetic's Moodagent launch (see the previous post), I'm spending a lot of time thinking about the relationship between music and mood.

The notion that music influences our mood is nothing new. But today's Music Psychologists are tackling the subject more systematically than the poets of old. In Seven Ways Music Influences Mood, Psyblog reviews a 2007 study of adolescents in Finland about the different ways they used music to control and improve their mood.

All the same, scientists finding connections between music and the quality of life does not affect me directly. How can I put that knowledge to use in the way I select and play my own music?

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Human Factors and Blog Design

The best products are designed with Human Factors in mind. That's why I often write about Web design and usability in my Web Performance Matters blog.

Jeff Atwood recently published Thirteen Blog Clich├ęs, a post summarizing his "opinions about what makes blogs work well, and what makes blogs sometimes not work so well." These are presented as a list of 13 common mistakes to avoid (or anti-patterns). If you have a blog, or are designing one, you've probably read similar articles before. Even so, Jeff's checklist is worth a look. All such lists tend to contain a core set of common guidelines to follow and/or pitfalls to avoid, but some of Jeff's opinions step outside the conventional wisdom.

Because I maintain two blogs -- UpRight Matters and Web Performance Matters -- I decided to rate both blogs against Jeff's criteria. Here are edited versions of his recommendations, and my responses. To read Jeff's full discussions of each guideline, see the original. And for the full story, see the many responses posted by Jeff's readers in the comments section of his blog.

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All That Is Gold Does Not Glitter

Illustration: J.R.R. Tolkien

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

--J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring, 1954

Tolkien might have been surprised to see his writing quoted in a discussion of technology and marketing, but I believe there is a strong connection.

I have always appreciated Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings trilogy, returning periodically to enjoy it again since I first read it almost 40 years ago. And although Peter Jackson's film adaptation was worthy of Tolkien's original creation, many aspects of Tolkien's wisdom were inevitably lost in the translation.

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Managing for Business Effectiveness

Drucker on Effectiveness vs. Efficiency

Management Wisdom: 1

There is surely nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency what should not be done at all

-- Peter Drucker, 1963

Peter Drucker is often called "the father of modern management". Many books and Web sites are devoted to his insights, some of which I have written about previously.

This post highlights his incisive observation about the difference between effectiveness and efficiency. I have always found it to be especially memorable, and quoted it (twice) when discussing priorities and choices in my book about software performance. Unfortunately I got the source wrong, but thanks to Google I can now correct my mistake.

It appeared in Managing for Business Effectiveness, an article in the May/June 1963 edition of Harvard Business Review ("HBR"). You can also find it reprinted in a February 2006 HBR article -- What Executives Should Remember -- a collection of excerpts drawn from HBR articles by Drucker published between 1963 and 2004.

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