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How do you listen to music? Back in the day, one could have either purchase cassettes and play the songs he/she wanted, or he/she could have given up the opportunity to choose and tuned to a radio station. The way people listen to music has changed tremendously throughout the years. However, some patterns remain even in today’s digital world. Consider a platform like Spotify. One can either purchase the premium plan and obtain access to any song from the database, or just choose to listen to songs that are of the similar genre as the desired one.
I have never closely paid attention to how the delivery of music has changed. Lev Manovich’s article, however, got me interested by pointing out the contrast between databases and narratives. Within the article Manovich pointed out the cultural transition to a world based on databases rather than narratives. The contrast between a radio station in the early 2000s and the free version of Spotify access, perfectly fits within Manovich’s claim. Instead of a radio station DJ playing songs that he/she likes and wants you to hear, you are now listening to songs that are chosen from a huge database by a computer algorithm. At first glance, both of these methods might sound the same, however there is an underlying difference. When a person chooses the song, he/she is affected by things like mood, personal experiences, and even the current weather. The computerized algorithm, however, bases its decisions on certain captured common trends and other previously collected data. Even though a listener might not notice much of a difference, the underlying world is constantly evolving.