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OneBigMix Beta: group-based sharing, social networks

PostPosted: Thu Jun 22, 2006 10:06 am
by bspires
I've just released a new project called "OneBigMix" (www.onebigmix.com), and I'm kneeling before you at the beta test alter.

OneBigMix is for people who enjoy music. It combines elements of trusted-group file sharing, social networking, social media, and preference-based digital object recommendations. I've been working on it in my spare time for over a year, and I'm ready to set her free.

I wanted to be able to do four things with OneBigMix.
1) Create personal, invite-only groups and share files with other group members using a standard browser client.
2) Learn more about the artists I like, and get personalized music news.
3) Discover new music based on the artists I already like.
4) Meet people who like the same music as me, especially people in my geographic area who like the same music as me (concert after-party, anyone?).

Here's a somewhat-technical overview of how it works:
Users download and install "Blendir" on their PC. It's basically a specialized webserver that web-enables your MP3 collection. Next, people join trust groups at OneBigMix.com. Only people that share a trust group can access each other's Blendir.

The part that I think is most interesting, and probably most interesting to folks here at Slyck, is the "Friendir" tool. Friendir is an ajax app that runs in your browser and indexes (in real-time) all of the artists that are shared with you by your trusted group. Click the Friendir icon at OneBigMix and Friendir opens in another browser window. First, it requests an access list from OneBigMix which includes the network location of all of your trust network's Blendirs and authentication credentials for each one. It then contacts each Blendir, authenticates, retrieves the list of artists that are shared, and stores the artist info along with the artist info retrieved from other Blendirs.

At this point Friendir has an index of all of the artists that are shared in your trusted network. When you search for "The John Doe Band", Friendir retrieves a list of aliases ("The John Doe Band", "John Doe Band", "Doe, John Band") from OneBigMix, then queries the stored index using all of the aliases. The index query result is a list of group members who are sharing content related to your query. Friendir sends a request to each network member that is known to have the artist available, retrieves a list of artist song information, and displays the the results.

The user chooses which songs she wants to hear and adds the songs to a playlist. Click play, and the songs are played one-by-one.

A few other cool Friendir features: 1) When I search for The John Doe Band, I see a list of "similar artists" that are currently shared in my network (someone is sharing "The Unknown Identities" -- sweet!). 2)Each artist name you see has associated "quicklinks" which, when hovered over, popup an html window (DIV) showing additional info (news related to the artist, fans of the artist, etc.)

Finally, OneBigMix also has social networking and social media. Users submit content they've created (blogs) or found (somewhere on the Internet) and tag the content with artist names. As you listen to music, information about the artist you listen to is compiled into you personal music profile. Each week you see a list of articles submitted by other users that are specifically related to the artists you're interested in. You also see lists of users who are statistically similar to you in their artist preferences, and similar users who are in your local area. You can see an examples of this at bspires.onebigmix.com.

Wow, thanks for reading this far.

If you're interested in beta testing, or know someone who might be, OneBigMix.com is where to go. If you want a little better overview of how it works, you can take the quick tour. If you want to know why I built it, read the One Big Music Manifesto. To get started using it:
1) Please remember it's in beta (I could just as easily have called it, Alpha 2.0, I guess)
2) Sign-up
3) Install Blendir
4) Goto yourusername.onebigmix.com and click the "Blendir is online" link to verify you're up and running.
5) Open "Friendir" (icon in the upper right) and confirm that your network includes your blendir.
6) Listen to your tunes using Friendir
7) Create a group (yourusername.onebigmix.com > Control Center > Create A New group) and invite people to join it.
8 ) Ask questions or leave feedback using the feedback link available on every page.

System Requirements: OneBigMix and Friendir have been tested with IE, Firefox, and Safari. The current version of Blendir media server is Windows-only (I know, I know...), supports sharing MP3 files, and requires the Windows Media Encoder to be installed (available from Microsoft here). To listen to audio in Firefox, you need to make sure you have the ActiveX plug-in installed (info). To listen to audio in Safari you'll need to install the Flip4Mac Quicktime components (available from Microsoft here). Also, Friendir's networking component requires Flash 8 (available from Adobe here). (Note: Why Windows Media? For several reasons, including legal ones, I needed to stream the audio in a lower quality. Since I blew the entire project's budget on two hotdogs and a beer, I couldn't afford the MP3 decoder licenses. Microsoft already has the license for it's Windows Media Encoder, so I did the best with what I had.)

This is my first project release I've done on my own, so I don't know what to expect. I really, really appreciate anyone who takes the time to sign-up and test it, and I hope you'll be patient as I stomp the critters out.

-Brad Spires bspires.onebigmix.com
Beaufort, NC, USA