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April 26, 2007

Lit Review - Jukola: Democratic Music Choice in a Public Space

Jukola: Democratic Music Choice in a Public Space (O'Hara, Lipson et al. 2004)

This paper describes the design and deployment of Jukola, a system for democratic music selection in a public space. The authors emphasize the importance of music on structuring social action, mood, and ones sense of place. The Jukola system gives users in the environment power over their musical environment. Jukola consists of a touch screen where users can nominate songs to be added to rotation, a series of PDAs where users of the space can vote on the next song to be played, and a website where remote users can contribute music to be added the central music library. Their system is interesting, but their most valuable contributions are found in their discussion of the one week deployment of Jukola in a local hot spot.

One of this paper’s key contributions is its discussion of the problems associated with using collaborative filtering to automatically determine the right music an environment. The authors focus on the role that ‘choice’ plays in music select. It is quite possible that this concept of ‘choice’ also applies when attempting to build other systems to affect ones environment, thus, it is important that we as designers remain aware of what becomes lost when preferences are passively collected and used. In Jukola’s case value was provided not just by the democratic selection of music, but also by engagement in the music selection process. The authors also mentioned political issues that occurred when control of the music was transitioned from the bar staff to the entire environment, for example, one employee attempted to bypass the voting system to ensure their choices were played. Most of the anecdotal field study results are focus on small observations, such as how the Jukola PDA served to foster collaboration among users sharing the same table, and how democratic music selection created a shared sense of identity for the restaurant. The authors also noted how over time some users adopted strategic voting where they would select the best option that had a chance to win -- the lesser of two evils, as opposed to selecting their personal favorite. In short, their study provided a lot of insight into the social dynamics surrounding the Jukola system; however, their most valuable contribution comes in identifying a genre of situations where it becomes more important for users to engage with rather than merely passively influence their environment.

O'Hara, K., M. Lipson, M. Jansen, A. Unger, H. Jeffries and P. Macer (2004). Jukola: democratic music choice in a public space. Proceedings of the 2004 conference on Designing interactive systems: processes, practices, methods, and techniques. Cambridge, MA, USA, ACM Press.

This paper provides a very interesting look at a system designed to promote democratic selection of music in a public place. The system is exceptionally interesting because A) It is democracy in a public place, B) it lets people select outside music, and C) the focus on letting people control their environment. If you were to replace 'modules' with 'music' in this scenario you'd pretty much have the basic idea behind Prospero. So the real question is, what's the difference between music and modules? Answer: A lot.

Posted by bcx at April 26, 2007 03:04 AM

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