Have a guess on what happened this day?
Here is a clue:
Any the wiser?
Allister Heath and Jon Ashworth have written quite an interesting article on the massive changes going on in the music industry, and I wanted to pen some reflections on the implications of these changes with respect to music retrieval.
The evidence appears to show that more and more folk are buying their music online, and that CD sales are falling. Some artists are using a different model for generating revenue e.g. Prince released his recent album free with the Daily Mail, but did something like 21 dates at the O2 centre (that big tent thing) in Greenwich. Things could be going full circle here – musicians before the recording era earned their money from live performances. Things don’t look so good for the big labels (EMI, Sony BMG etc) let alone the music stores.
Hence Digital Rights Management (DRM) e.g iTunes. Music companies hope that this will stop their revenues from declining even further (evidence from the Heath/Ashworth article says that it would never replace CD sales). Personally I think they are going to be disappointed – for all sorts of reasons. If Prince and other artists want to give their music away freely, there is no need for DRM. Many DRM players are incompatible and users have to download specific software to use them. In some services (Napster), if you stop paying you are denied access to music you have already bought. In the long term I don’t think users are going to buy the DRM thing. Many voices e.g. Steve Jobs, have come out against DRM (at least for music). There is also very strong opposition to DRM from people like Richard Stallman and Ross Anderson. Frankly, I’m with them – DRM is mad!
It is my view that some stage in the future, we will have massive databases of music and will therefore have a big information retrieval problem (even if the music companies don’t release their back catalogue). How do we cope with this in terms of technical and user issues? Music IR has become something of a hot topic, and the ISMIR series of conferences and many of the technical challenges are being addressed including the process of matching and evaluation. Some of this research will prove very useful. However one important area is not being addressed sufficiently widely IMHO. Despite the excellent efforts of people like Sally Jo Cunningham, not enough research is being done into user needs for music. It’s all very well building sophisticated algorithms for matching, but how do you know they will actually service user needs. When attending an ISMIR conference, I remember being amazed by a statement by one computer scientist who claimed in all seriousness that ‘he knew’ what users wanted and didn’t need to talk to them. No, I didn’t believe him.
This is an important research direction for me. I have published in the area and have a student working on a project. Watch this space!
This is a very interesting piece of research.
I'm particularly intrested in this for a number of reasons, including the display of images when conducting image retrieval. Another application is the display of map images when doing geographical information retrieval on mobile devices. It has in my view a number of important applications in IR.
I’ve been thinking about how to get a research angle on the issue of Energy Information for a while now, largely due to my reading of the Peak Oil issue.
On the web you will find various articles about Energy Information, or misinformation as some people call it (for example see: http://www.oilcrisis.com/debate/misinfo.htm - please note that parts of this article are very controversial indeed).
Of particular interest is the reporting of OPEC oil reserves, and the jumps in declared reserves in 1988 from many of these nations, (see the table in: http://www.oilcrisis.com/summary.htm). How can these jumps be justified? Are they new discoveries or is it new technology which allows them to extract more of the oil from the ground? Are they just politically inspired figures, so that these OPEC members could raise their production (ability to produce is pro-rata on current proven reserves).
Unfortunately, we just don’t know! Oil production data was provided from around 1950 and stopped abruptly in 1982 (Simmons, 2005). There is no way therefore and independent person or body can confirm the accuracy of these figures. The situation got so bad that “OPEC Secretariat’s staff in
I think Matt Simmons, through his (mostly) excellent book, has finally given me a research angle to pursue. There are a number of issues to tackle (this is probably not exhaustive).
1. Secrecy of energy information: what impact does this have on the information stakeholders? By secrecy I mean documents which are hidden from public view for a certain period (say 50/100 years – the British Government does this a lot with sensitive documents). The information is available but only to a select few.
2. Transparency of energy information: Currently reserves are reported for a country as a whole, not on a field by field basis as it used to prior to 1982 (Simmons, 2005). Its much easier to get an overall picture of production with knowledge of individual fields, as you can see what is happening with regard to production on that field from previous years, and any problems such as the water cut or gas caps encountered. The ability to process information is much reduced with the lack of transparency.
3. Availability of information: because of the lack of transparency and secrecy of energy information, it may not be possible in any realistic sense to for information users to manipulate and utilise data/information given to them. This has had an impact on Oil prices (Simmons, 2005: p82).
Ok, this is a start. I need to develop these themes more and start picking out more issues. References
De Winter, F. (1996). Misinformation Campaigns past and present: http://www.oilcrisis.com/debate/misinfo.htm [visited 16th October 2007]
Oil Crisis Summary: http://www.oilcrisis.com/summary.htm [visited 16th October 2007]
Simmons, M.R. (2005). Twilight in the Desert: the coming Saudi Oil Shock and the world economy, John Wiley & Sons,