Mufin, the music search and recommendation engine that suggests music based on an algorithmic analysis of music, has launched its public beta today. Of course, the biggest point of interest is the lack of human editing when it comes to Mufin’s recommendations, setting it apart from the likes of Last.fm and Pandora. Even though many systems such as web search queries have been after the all mighty algorithm that works as well as (if not better than) a human, none have really come close to replacing the human element.
Granted, Mufin’s recommendations do work rather well. Perhaps this is because matching music can be more readily turned into a mathematical representation than say a search query for the best restaurants in Union Square. But Mufin seems to lack the human touch in its entirety. There’s no tweaking you can do for the recommendations Mufin offers, indicating how well of a match a song really is. And the social implications on Mufin’s main site are minimal, limited to a top playlist of songs that have been viewed, searched or played by others.
I’m not saying that Mufin needs to be social, per say, but I do wonder if his is the direction other systems will move towards, where recommendations are provided wholly without human interaction but with algorithms and individual behavior analytics (i.e. listening and purchase patterns) instead? Are the days of relying on users to do all the work for you coming to an end?
Not really. It never hurts to be able to share your music discoveries with friends, and instead of making friends on Mufin, just go straight to MySpace or Facebook. Two applications for these major social networks enable you to share your discovered music on your profile, and allow others to discover music from your profile as well. We’ll consider this an indirect recommendation spread to friends, based on the suggestions offered by Mufin’s algorithm.
The downside to Mufin’s Facebook application is that it’s not really social until your other friends have added the app as well. And on the MySpace front, this music-centric social network has already begun to layer in similar sharing functions for music displayed on user profiles, which could potentially give Mufin some competition for its application.