Share and share alike
In case you hadn't noticed, sharing is all the rage on the Internet these days. There are web sites where you can share your bookmarks, your Internet search results and your music playlists. Just last week, Yahoo introduced its new instant messaging program that allows users to automatically share with buddies the titles of the songs playing on their desktops. Now comes Audioscrobbler (www.audioscrobbler.com). Created by a British online radio station employee, the new service automatically monitors what music you're listening to on your computer and builds an online musical profile for you. With this information, and the profiles collected from other users, Audioscrobbler builds a list of recommended songs for you. Richard Jones, who created the service while earning a computer science degree at University of Southampton in England, likened the recommendations to those that Amazon.com offers users when they hunt for books. "My main motivation was to create a tool for the discovery of music," Jones said. The service is easy to set up and run. Simply download a relatively small plug-in from the Audioscrobbler Web site. Then whenever you play music with your favorite player, it automatically sends the information to the Audioscrobbler database and builds a profile of your musical tastes. The Audioscrabbler Web site says the service is essentially anonymous because users can only see each other's user names (which they choose) and their song lists. Unfortunately, the service has become too popular too quickly. High demand is straining its servers, and Jones is scrambling to buy more equipment to keep up. For now, parts of the service don't work. But Jones is working on a fix, and has high hopes for Audioscrobbler. "Hopefully, we can make it grow to something much bigger," Jones said. "Maybe to where one day you just hit a button and say, `Play music I like.'"