Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Visual Search Of The Entertainment Industry Finds User-Recommended Actors, Movies, Bands And Artists: The New LivePlasma Is Here

MusicPlasma, the visual music discovery engine that Robin Good already classified as 'interesting, promising' a year ago, has just been enhanced with impressive movie search capabilities.

The renewed service has been renamed to LivePlasma and now covers bands, artists, movies, actors and directors in a multilingual interface (English, German, French and Spanish).



A fine example of a so-called similarity network mapping system, LivePlasma in its previous incarnation was designed by Parisian Frédéric Vavrille to reach out to people being lost in the musical universe. As noted by Lisa Napoli in one of her New York Times 'Online Diary' columns:

"Frédéric Vavrille wants to make music available to everyone--or at least make musical suggestions easy to find. ''With the Internet, you have access to a huge mass of information about music, but it's become hard to find simple information like 'What is great for me to listen to?'''

So Mr. Vavrille, who lives in Paris, sat down with a sheet of paper and drew a graph of 200 artists, linking similar styles. "

Of course that was only the beginning of this Flash-based data visualization tool.

LivePlasma makes no secret of the fact that it pulls its data and recommendations directly from the huge inventory of sell-it-all Amazon. The underlying technology, called ECS (E-Commerce Service), is provided through Amazon Web Services.

That said about the relationship with Amazon, of course the LivePlasma development team deserves all credit for the stunning, attractive visual interface.

So what's new and to be known about LivePlasma?

Look closely at this screenshot of LivePlasma (direct url to the live map). You will notice the following features while looking at the result map:

  • Every object is an interactive hotspot

  • Extensive usage of colors to denote properties, relationships, categories etc.

  • Clear legenda, elegant design

  • Direct links to individual Amazon order pages

  • Items can be marked as favorites

  • Logical proximity-based recommendation system

  • Urls to personal collections can be emailed to friends (free registration required)

In addition to these features LivePlasma automatically saves all maps created during the same session. When the session is over, the searches are deleted.

If you like, you can create a direct link to any LivePlasma search, for example, to run the search that I did to get the Steven Spielberg map, use this url:

To Be Improved

  • My main, kind suggestion to the LivePlasma developers is to work on the performance of the service. On my very fast desktop system, with 2 Gb RAM, it slowed down the other programs so much that I had to close down the majority to be able to continue using the service.
  • The help document mentions the option to "Receive news about new bands which match your tastes", but there is no option available to actually sign up for this service.
  • Part of the help file still needs to be translated from French.

LivePlasma is still in beta. If you have any ideas on how to improve LivePlasma, then the developers are eager to learn. Their email address is at the LivePlasma homepage.

LivePlasma is free to use and contains no ads. The developers rely on donations and affiliate links to Amazon for support.

If this review triggered your interest to know more about data visualization tools, then please have a look at the other relevant material selected for you in the Related Articles section at the bottom of this page.

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posted by Marjolein Hoekstra on Saturday, February 19 2005, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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