Tag Archives: playlist

teaching rocks to sing

I’ve been toying for a few years in sketches with what a playlist should look like. It used to be an album cover, a square design that was retried from a shelf and taken to a player, or a cassette, decorated and owned with layers of patina. I remember a friend who had connected a barcode scanner up to their stereo so that they could start a cd playing (from the copy on their digital library) by scanning the barcode – giving the cd cases continued significance and making use of existing social gestures for selecting music to play.

Now that playlists are digital, a web link or usb flash disk seems like an insubstantial and transitory alternative. I would like to load playlists of music in to objects that are meaningful. These can then be given as gifts, kept on show on the coffee table or mantelpiece, or stored like a cabinet of curiosities. Objects could be created for the task, embedded with rfid tags like skylanders, but for me it would be better if I could teach *any* object my playlist.


Sensing any handheld-sized object, whether it is a seashell, a toy car, a broken cup, a rock, a personal 3D printed shape, and so on, would require a whole palate of sensors to have a chance of being robust. Place the object in a box or on a pedestal and we could imagine using computer vision for contour, pattern and colour sensing, and maybe weighing the object too.

I chatted about this idea with participants at the Making Digital Physical CX workshop. One suggestion that grew from our discussion was the idea of teaching objects a playlist should happen in real-time. This was how cassette mixtapes used to be constructed and it meant they retained significance through the time and effort invested in making them.

Another dimension to using arbitrary objects is that more than one person might ‘overwrite’ mass produced objects. All starbucks cups look the same, so the mix you taught your cup yesterday might be Beiber by now. This creates an impetus to seek out unique objects, or at least to modify them to make them unique. It also suggests a gesture of 3D printing for sharing a mix, or teaching your secret club decoder ring a secret club theme tune.


cooking using your own playlist for timings

chatting with a masters student today about her project in to multi-sensory cooking instructions for the ipad I was reminded of an idea I had jotted down years ago:

replace cooking times in recipes with songs from your music collection. so rather than “boil egg for 4 minutes 45 seconds”, it becomes “place egg in to water, hit play on ‘My 1st Song’ off The Grey Album, when it finishes, remove egg from water”. you could even generate the remaining instructions as text-to-speech audio tracks and make a whole playlist to cook by.

“place oiled vegetables in tray in the oven. listen to ‘3 Feet High and Rising’. remove from oven and serve.”

post on youtube playlists is almost immediately redundant

for some reason youtube doesn’t currently have a link from the normal landing page for a playlist to any way of actually playing the selection of videos end-to-end.

this could be because: they are trying to do something clever around blocking third parties or in preparation for google tv or in terms of advertising; or because they are disorganised and have broken this core feature of a playlist; or because the button is there, but I can’t see it because of bad UI.

anyway, you can fix it with this firefox keyword bookmark:

location: javascript:void(location.href='http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p='+location.href.slice(location.href.lastIndexOf(%22/%22)+1,location.href.length))

keyword: playlist

or bookmarklet:
view play list

of course, as with all things youtube related, this fix will be redundant any time soon when google switches round all the functionality and code again.