Interesting post on Slashdot about how social network groups influence tastes of the members. The article’s by Bennett Haselton (the founder of The article cites a study showing that:

They also noted that in the “social influence” worlds where users could see each others’ downloads, increasing download numbers had a snowball effect that widened the difference between the successful songs and the unsuccessful.

So rather than the internet acting as a marketplace of ideas, it is a space for quickly-establishing hierarchies. But Haselton proposes an interesting (tech) solution:

For music listeners, the gist of the algorithm is: When an artist submits a new song in the alt-rock category for example, the song is distributed to a random sample of 20 users who have indicated an interest in that genre. If the average rating from those users is high enough, the song gets recommended to all of the site’s users who are interested in alt-rock. If the average rating is not high enough, then the artist receives a notification, perhaps with a list of comments from the listeners suggesting what to improve.

The entire article is dense and smart. And a nice antidote to this: The End of Music?