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Rock ‘Til You Plot with Last.fm

Joachim Van Herwegen, an intern at the online music company Last.fm, has plotted his company’s music information against user gender and age data. These “Gender Plots” also incorporate music information from Last.fm, as well as user profile information.

What results is a freaky series of visual statements that are as noteworthy for their as if! properties as for the window they provide on music and culture. Even where you disagree with the implied conclusions, these plots serve as a place of departure for your own internal conversation on music.

It should surprise no one that the bulk of users are between 15 and 30 years of age, peaking in the early 20s.

Among further conclusions you might come to with the data is that Slayer trends toward the gentlemen and Lady Gaga toward the ladies. No surprise there. It might surprise those of you who are entering your sixth decade of life to realize that the only musician you like is someone named Ronnie Aldrich. And those in my age group (nuh-uh) consist of people with musical tastes so abjectly awful that I actually wept a little before I could pull myself together.

Among the most interesting of the plots is one that maps the words used in the About Me sections of the user profiles. Punk is surprisingly resilient. Grandmother appears at 40 and grandchildren after 50. Given that Last.fm is located in London, a substantial number of the self-describing words are in Spanish, French, German and other European languages.

If you’re a Last.fm user, you can use the “Playground” Van Herwegen created to map your own choices and descriptors against your friends.

It’s always great to see companies leveraging and making public their own unique data. It’s even better when it’s presented in as effective and attractive way as Last.fm’s Gender Plots.

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