Heisenberg meets Audioscrobbler

The Heisenberg uncertainty principle says that one cannot observe sub-atomic particles with arbitrary precision. One of the popular explaination of this phenomenon is that an observation involves some interaction with the observed particle and that one, as my former chemistry teacher expressed it, “kicks the particle in the butt” doing so. This phenomenon can also be applied to experiments that contain an observation of people or individuals. If the observed are aware of the observation it is always possible that they behave differently because of this.

Audioscrobbler is a service that automatically assembles play lists of the songs one plays in in MP3 player. Based on this information and using a recommender system, Audioscrobbler can recommend other users with similar musical taste. This way users can find new artists that make music they might like, too.

Now the connection to Heisenberg: Since I’ve been using Audioscrobbler (and since I’ve been aware of the observation of my musical taste) I often noticed that I don’t choose music based on my mood but based on what music would look cooler in my profile or what I have to listen to to be a greater fan of some (cool) band. Thus, the music profiles of Audioscrobbler are also influenced by the uncertainty principle and only partly usable to find out about the musical taste of a person. The question that arises from this problem is, how to perform an observation completely clandestine (to make the observed person not feel observed) but still not compromise his privacy and show him his music profile at some point. But – hey. Until I come up with a solution to this I better listen to The Local Art. Or some even cooler band. :-)

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