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On being a DJ

18 Aug

When I was in college (oh so long ago…) I was a DJ for our radio station, and then I was a music director. I loved being a DJ: having lots of new, interesting and unreleased music on tap, from Smashing Pumpkins to Underwater Boxer; having a channel to share that music with other people; being able to make a small band’s day by playing their stuff and reporting it to CMJ. Well, there was one part I didn’t care for so much: talking on the radio. I’m a bit shy, which is why although I loved being a DJ and music director at Eckerd College, I knew it wasn’t ever going to be a career path for me.

It’s interesting, then, that I work at Grooveshark where much of that dream is being fulfilled by participating in this movement. The one piece that is missing is having a channel to share music with other people and subsequently helping small bands by making them more discoverable. Well, now with the release of Autoplay in Grooveshark Lite, it’s kind of like I get to be everybody’s DJ. Of course a computer scientist would write a DJing program rather than doing the manual labor of DJing.

As Professor Fishman, the best professor who ever lived, was fond of saying in our classes, a computer scientist isn’t satisfied with just using computers to put other people out of a job, they won’t settle until they manage to put themselves out of a job too. To be fair, he usually talked about that in the context of AI and specifically programming languages such as LISP, where the program can rewrite itself, but I think it applies here as well.

Now I get to be everyone’s DJ, but with everyone’s help too. If the system is currently a bad DJ, keep giving it feedback and it will learn. Imagine if you got to call up your local radio station and yell at them every time they played something you didn’t like, and congratulate them every time they played something you liked. If they didn’t block your phone number, you’d end up with the ultimate radio station for you, and that’s what Grooveshark aims to be, although we admit it will take some time to get there.

Check out Autoplay, and let me know what you think.

 

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