isn’t just for humans

April 26th, 2006  |  Published in metadata

While I’m talking BBC, here’s a story from a little while ago. I’m a big fan of, and I’ve been using it for a few years. Because I used to play my MP3s on a headless linux box in my flat, I wrote a commandline python mp3 player that could ping My profile is a pretty good picture of my listening habits.

At BBC Radio, the radio stations are moving steadily from traditional analogue studios to fully digital systems that play nearly all their music from hard disk. As a member of the Architecture Team there, I had access to experimental data feeds from these systems. One day at work I asked myself a question: what happens when you plug behavioural data generated by an automatic process into social software designed for humans?

Half an hour later, I’d rigged my plugin into the feed system and switched it on. Over a year later, when I left the BBC, sekrit had accumulated a record of more than 50,000 tracks played on BBC 6Music.

Bear in mind when looking at this data that only the most mainstream and automatable parts of this admirably diverse radio station are visible in the feed. Every dusty Ska 7″ played by Phill Jupitus on the Breakfast Show is invisible here. Even with this proviso, I think the dataset is fascinating.

Ever wondered what a radio station’s best friends would look like? Here’s your answer.

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