Chart Arcs: Visualizing Music Listening Behavior


Nov 9 2006, 10:50

A little while ago I implemented another visualization roughly based on Martin Wattenberg's arc diagrams. It's a visualization of a person's weekly charts, designed to convey how your listening behaviors change over time, and also (just because it's really easy to determine) the mainstream-ness of your taste. The previous data visualization I had called IRC Arcs, so it's only natural to call this one Chart Arcs.

I'm currently thinking about meaningful representations of a person's music listening behavior, e.g. visualizations that show aspects of your musical taste and habits, and I think that this particular visualization is quite successful in conveying a small part of that.

All Word Extinguisher




I made graphs of the office crew, and it's interesting to compare different people's graphs -- joanofarctan has quite an obscure taste when compared to the rest (his graph has very slim arcs), my own graph shows how much I'm a fame whore in my musical taste (top chart positions are usually held by more popular artists, as the dot sizes of top chart positions show), and I quite like the graphs of of people who have a less-populated user profile, as you can see in e.g. the minimalist appeal of spencerhyman's graph.

Truffle? No, Shuffle!




I was surprised to see that some of the graphs were just hard to read random piles of data upon data, and I didn't really find an obvious explanation. See e.g. skr's big splotch. The listening behavior that resulted in those graphs didn't seem that much different from everybody else -- those were usually really active listeners, but others with a very active profile or a similar number of unique artists had very well-defined graphs.

I then started to get PMs from users who wanted a chart arc of their profile, and it was then that a pattern emerged -- one user from Buenos Aires was wondering why his graph was fuller than some of the others, and we started to chat about his listening behavior, and it turned out that he's listening a lot in shuffle mode. I asked around in the office, and it turns out that our colleagues with big splotches all listen in shuffle mode a lot of the time!

The resulting graphs now made sense -- "shufflers" will have a higher number of frequently recurring artists in their weekly charts when compared to "album listeners", who might might listen to a completely different set of artists from one week to the next. As we don't draw arcs when an artist leaves or enters your charts (it will only influence the coloring of the respective chart position's circle) graphs of shufflers will show much more local movement than those of album listeners. station of the day: Trentemøller similar artist radio. (And sorry for the very cheesy headlines...)



  • julians

    Very interesting; I now finally understand what the graphs mean ;)

    Nov 9 2006, 12:43
  • closedmouth

    That is so cool. Can you do mine?

    Dic 5 2006, 14:10
  • egordin

    Wow this is great. I was looking for graphs of my own usage in terms of how various artists come in and out of favor etc. Is this possible too?

    Feb 13 2007, 8:54
  • jellevc

    Can you do mine? :p

    Feb 18 2007, 11:49
  • ade_oshineye

    This looks neat. Can you add me to the list of people who would like to see his own musical tastes visualised. Hmm...Perhaps you could put the code online in some way so that people don't have to bother you with visualisation requests?

    Mar 17 2007, 22:38
  • talking_animal

    Interesting idea, and nice-looking pictures. I've been coming at the how do you represent people's taste from the opposite end, trying to find [i]numbers[/i] in the statistical mudwallow that is that when compared to others, give you some idea of whether the person listens to the same few things as everyone else, or the same many things, or different things altogether. Your pics give me a lot to ponder. Thanks!

    Apr 11 2007, 3:55
  • napierdalante

    I'm also interested.generate my graphs, would be great.

    Giu 11 2007, 18:07
  • gifool

    Can you visualise my chart arcs please? Also, it would be great if you hosted the code somewhere, just like the mainstream-o-meter and other useful tools, so that everyone can generate their own chart arcs. Great idea and the pics look good too.

    Giu 20 2007, 14:19
  • davess

    I just stumbled on this thread and have spent ages reading both it and your 'playground' page about it to get it clear in my head how it works and what it represents. Only now I see that this is 3 years ago and the last posts were 2 and a half years ago. I'd be interested to see an image for my charts nonetheless. Did this not generate enough interest? Maybe you didn't word your explanations clearly enough for the images to be meaningful to people. It took me a while.

    Dic 31 2009, 2:09
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