Unknown Pleasures Album Cover

“Context-Handback” is something I find that I want nearly everything – or my everyware, at least – to do.

What do I mean?

An inverse-concrete example: something that can’t perform context-handback is my new little iPod shuffle.

I bought it last weekend after a longish break from the Jobs/Ive Hegemon, in order to play some of the iTunes purchased DRM’d gear I’m stuck with, and also because it’s just gorgeous as an object.

More perfect than the perfect thing it seems in both build quality and simplicity.

Foe had owned an original shuffle before but I’d never tried it – I’m finding thought that I really love the surrender to the flow of your own music – music that you perhaps didn’t realise you owned or had neglected, surfaced by the pseudo-stochastic, inscrutable selectah inside the tiny metal extrusion.

Perhaps I’m prepped to enjoy this semi-surprising personal radio station by my other semi-surprising personal radios – last.fm and pandora.

I listen to a lot of last.fm at work, and I find its recommendations only more and more rewarding over time.

But I find I obsess now on feeding it more and more – I want to handback to it from all of my musical consumption – my shuffle, the radio on my N95, shazam-tags from something playing in the pub – everything.

I want to bring it offerings.

And there’s the rub – so little of that musical consumption, in fact the bulk of it done on the go – can be offered back to last.fm.

It’s so frustrating that my musical discoveries and rediscoveries can’t feed back into creating more, or even that I can’t see what I enjoyed in iTunes when I synchronise with
the shuffle.

Faltering steps towards remedying this trivial problem can be seen in something like this hacked-up scrobbler for mobile in S60 python.

More context-handback hopefully in the next few years, until then – unknown pleasures.

0 thoughts on ““Context-Handback”

  1. You know what I really, really want my iPod to do?

    When I’ve got it on shuffle, and a song comes up, I want to be able to click it (like you do to skip through a track or set the star rating) and select ‘Play This Artist’s Tracks’ or ‘Play This Album’ or ‘Play This Genre’.

    So when Van Morrison comes on, and I realize it’s a Van Morrison kind of day, I can switch to playing all Van Morrison tracks with one click.

    (Even better, ultra-everyware-enabled: the iPod crossreferences your play choices with things like the time of day, the weather, the month, etc…. and then creates playlists based on its suppositions. So when I get in my car at 8 pm on a Friday, the Ipod starts playing Bloc Party and Underworld and Fugazi…but when I’m going to get coffee at 8 am on a Tuesday, it plays Belle and Sebastian and Whiskeytown. When it’s raining, it tends to play Morphine and Joe Henry and Tricky. Like that.)

  2. eh, josh and matt, it’s really context (period) you’re talking about. it’s not so much a ‘handback’ as just extending the context awareness of the shuffle, or whatever your favourite emotional toy you have.

    (or is it) more of a ‘sharing’ of context. should we have some sort of easy way to share contextual info across all our gadgets, our life sensors, our life recorders? heart rate, location, weather, preferences, push-button notifications (such as fave-this) to the context watcher?

    how would one do this sharing of context?

    we live, making choices based on context, yet our devices dissociate our decisions from _where_ we live – that’s the shuffle example you use, matt: decisions are made at the mac, but you want it to know you on the move, or at least what you _did_ o the move and adjust accordingly.


  3. “I find its recommendations only more and more rewarding over time.”

    That’s also because we keep improving the algorithms! 😉
    And we’re far from being done..

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