Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Users of digital music sharing system judge others by their playlists


Co-workers sharing digital music in the workplace via Apple Computer’s popular iTunes® software form impressions of each other based on their musical libraries, according to a new study by human-computer interaction researchers.

Employees in a mid-sized U.S. company reported that they consciously worked to portray themselves in certain ways through the collections of music they shared with co-workers, some of whom they barely knew. Sometimes their self-portrayals were misread by co-workers with different musical interests and knowledge.

Nevertheless, music sharing served to build a community within the workplace researchers studied. This finding has design implications for music-sharing technologies that are primarily created as individual jukeboxes, according to researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology and Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), who will present their findings April 5 at the Computer-Human Interaction (CHI 2005) conference in Portland, Ore. The study was funded by PARC and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

“People sharing music in our study were aware of the comings and goings of others in the office because they noticed the appearance and disappearance of others’ music on the network,” said Amy Voida, lead author of the paper and a Ph.D. student at Georgia Tech. “They imagined what other people might think about their music collections, and they were aware of the musical holes left when someone left the company…. What once was an individual jukebox became a music community.”

Digital music sharing among people on the same local area network became possible with iTunes in 2003 when Apple added the optional feature to its dual-platform software, which was designed primarily for home users. Users can share their entire digital music libraries or selected playlists. In contrast to previous online music sharing technologies, iTunes does not support copying music over the Internet. Music files reside only on their host machine and, when shared, are streamed to another user’s computer.

Prompted by news reports of college students sharing music in dormitories, Voida and her colleagues investigated whether co-workers are doing the same. The researchers interviewed 13 iTunes users in one unidentified company to get specific examples of the social aspects of music sharing.

“In the workplace, music sharing plays with the boundaries around things you as an employee might not want to share with other employees,” said Beki Grinter, a Georgia Tech associate professor of computing who was a PARC researcher when the study began. “We found that sharing your music is actually quite a strong personal statement.”

The researchers’ report, which is nominated for a best paper award among 350 others, is filled with vignettes that illustrate this finding. Researchers altered the artists and music genres cited to protect the anonymity of study participants.

When one user decided to share his music, he recalled: “I just went through it to see if there was not like stuff that would be like, I don’t know, annoying, that I would not like people to know that I had.” Sensing that his library was “not very cool,” he added more music to create a “balanced” portrayal of himself.

Another participant was worried about what his co-workers would think of the Justin Timberlake and Michael McDonald music he had purchased for his wife and included in his library. Yet another user crafted his library around his German nationality and collection of German band music he thought others wouldn’t have. Meanwhile, other users hid their expertise because they thought their co-workers would not relate to it or find it distasteful.

“My favorite vignette is about the manager who joined the network,” Grinter recalled. “When the manager showed up and could start looking through people’s music collections, people began to speculate that the manager’s presence might be influencing the way others were managing what music they shared.”

Despite users’ efforts to portray a certain image with their playlists, these signals sometimes were misread based on the users’ musical expertise and knowledge, Voida noted.

“One of the users only listened to classical music, while others in the group liked music like new age, rock and electronica,” she explained. “The others thought that their music libraries distinguished them from their co-workers, but the classical music listener thought they were all the same. She did not pick up on the nuances, so the impression people thought they were giving off was not what she saw because of her musical background.”

In another example, two users misperceived each others’ interest. “One of the two had what he believed to be the ultimate James Taylor library,” Voida said. “He wanted everyone to know that if they needed James Taylor, he was their man. His co-worker was into Irish folk music, and they agreed to share their music with one another so they could learn more about the other’s music. One of them said he enjoyed listening to his co-worker’s music, but the other wasn’t listening to his in return, so there was a misunderstanding. One user overestimated the other’s interest in his music.”

Researchers also discovered that users tried to figure out which music collection belonged to which employee. It became somewhat of a detective game, Voida said.

“Most people didn’t want to listen to anonymous collections, even though they didn’t always want to talk to the playlists’ creators,” Grinter said. “…. They went to quite a bit of trouble to figure out which playlists belonged to whom. It’s a peculiar social phenomenon. They don’t want to live in a completely anonymous world, especially in the workplace.”

Keith Edwards, also a former PARC researcher who is now an associate professor of computing at Georgia Tech, added: “iTunes was not designed for the not-quite-anonymous, not-quite-known user. And it’s not clear Apple wants to go in this direction.”

The researchers concluded: “One of the greatest challenges for technical innovation in music sharing may be in allowing designers to make the leap between treating music sharing technologies as personal music listening utilities and treating music sharing technologies as online communities. Although music sharing has traditionally been a strong indicator of group identity and has reflected shared musical taste, our study of iTunes music sharing has demonstrated that even groups with disparate musical tastes can form strong group identities.”

Jane Sanders | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht Green Light for Galaxy Europe
15.03.2018 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

nachricht Tokyo Tech's six-legged robots get closer to nature
12.03.2018 | Tokyo Institute of Technology

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

Im Focus: ILA 2018: Laser alternative to hexavalent chromium coating

At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.

When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...

Im Focus: Radar for navigation support from autonomous flying drones

At the ILA Berlin, hall 4, booth 202, Fraunhofer FHR will present two radar sensors for navigation support of drones. The sensors are valuable components in the implementation of autonomous flying drones: they function as obstacle detectors to prevent collisions. Radar sensors also operate reliably in restricted visibility, e.g. in foggy or dusty conditions. Due to their ability to measure distances with high precision, the radar sensors can also be used as altimeters when other sources of information such as barometers or GPS are not available or cannot operate optimally.

Drones play an increasingly important role in the area of logistics and services. Well-known logistic companies place great hope in these compact, aerial...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

International Virtual Reality Conference “IEEE VR 2018” comes to Reutlingen, Germany

08.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Wandering greenhouse gas

16.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

'Frequency combs' ID chemicals within the mid-infrared spectral region

16.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Biologists unravel another mystery of what makes DNA go 'loopy'

16.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>