Monday, August 30, 2004

Another year, another cravat

It's the start of the academic year. Aside from the annual confusions with student network registrations, this can only mean one thing. I put on one of these things as part of my annual tradition. I don't think I've ever been required to wear a tie or jacket while working at the college. So I've gotten in the habit of wearing one on the first day of classes as a way of marking the passage of time. It's the little things that show we care, after all.

As this is an anniversary of a sort, it is a fine time for reflection and anticipation. Academic years are well-defined units of time, punctuated by long breaks. When a year ends, we sweep a lot of unfinished business under the rug. As the new year begins, we launch into new initiatives. The big interruptions that happen along the way only really hurt if we're in session. When you add all of this up, years tend to take on themes in my memory.

Last year, the theme was network security and stability. We started the year with Blaster32, and ended it with Sasser. In between, we suffered through connection-hungry P2P applications and an angry, exhausted student reaction to the steps taken to counteract the various infiltrations. Caught trying to fight on two fronts—the technical battle with worms and buffer overruns, and a campaign of ideas to convince students to adopt better practices with their personal computers (or else!)—the I.T. staff struggled to keep its spirits up. Why, your humble servant had to set aside a lot of forward-directed work to churn out an endless stream of announcements and presentations on such uplifting topics as data backups. I got off easy compared to the trench fighters in networking, systems administration, and the help desk.

After a summer spent primping and priming the network, the faculty and administration looked to us expectantly for reassurance that the problems of last year wouldn't resurface. We know things should be much better. But nobody is foolish enough to promise a trouble-free network, just as you'll not hear any member of the national security community promise that there will never be another terrorist attack on U.S. soil. That sort of thing just isn't done. It invites trouble.

Nevertheless, let's raise a cup of cheer, hoping that 2004-05 will be more productive. On Friday, I picked up an assignment to head up the College's ad hoc committee on content management strategies for our web site. With increased interest in our portal environment and murmurs of faculty wanting to get involved in blogging and other forms of online communication, maybe this will be the Year of Vastly Successful Web Publishing Initiatives.

It doesn't hurt to dream.

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Sunday, August 29, 2004

Confessions of a former PowerPoint user

As I seem to get some hits to this site through a mention I got from Tim Burke in one of his posts, I thought I'd offer a quick response to something he said about PowerPoint. (Tim doesn't have comment capability on his site yet, but we're working on it.)

The main argument against PowerPoint, best made by Edward Tufte in "The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint," and best illustrated by Peter Norvig's parody, is that its low resolution restricts presenters to an unacceptably low rate of information transfer. There are tons of other problems with PowerPoint, but nothing is so damning as restricting a presenter to showing minimal evidence and boiled-down ideas.

Since Tim so graciously said that I'd enlightened him, I figure I'd better finish the job. He said in his post:
"The PowerPoint thing is never going to work for humanities scholars. We don't have highly concretized knowledge that we can deliver in bullet points to an audience where the novelty or contribution of our work is going to be retained at all in that compressed form. Scientists and maybe some hard social scientists really can say, 'Ok, we found out something that we didn't know before, and here's the facts, in the most efficient form we can deliver them to you'. Humanists almost never can do the same."
I think he misestimates scientists and social scientists, because their work especially cannot be delivered well in bullet points, as Tufte has shown in his analysis of both shuttle disasters. Scientific evidence is hard to cram into the tiny screen real estate of a PowerPoint slide. All disciplines need to be able to express narrative, and PowerPoint is terrible at all but the simplest forms of narrative. If you really want to show an audience the most interesting, beautiful, and persuasive fruits of research, the most efficient form for doing so is probably paper.

For all my future presentations, my basic plan is to put important data and notes on handouts. My speech will be focused on conveying narrative. (I was a theater major in college. I can tell stories.) I have a hunch that I won't ever need to use PowerPoint again. There's an uplifting thought.

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Saturday, August 21, 2004

Complexity of scope and integration

A presentation I gave on integration of web services in Pasadena a few months ago caused me to reflect on the ways in which academic computing has changed in the ten years that I've been involved in the field. The superficial answer isn't wrong in this case: web, web, and more web. When I first got in the game, academic computing was mostly about two things: computer labs and specialized desktop applications to address niche academic needs. Our focus on relationships with individual members of the faculty far outweighed our focus on our relationship with THE faculty. Those traditional roles still exist, but they account for a much smaller portion of our work. The world wide web changed the technology ecology in a way that forced rapid evolutionary adaptation in technologists. One year, let's call it 1993, we were just trying to facilitate specialized activities to address specialized needs. Within the span of time it takes for an undergraduate to get a degree, we were expected to enable everybody, everywhere, to access and use just about everything.

The never ending demand for web services has forced the world of academic computing to undergo a form of industrial revolution in the last few years. Where we once could work on a series of small projects to help faculty get their personal documents or learning objects on the web—not that we called them learning objects until a few years ago—we now are focused, even obsessed, with scalability issues that can only be addressed with mass production. Thus, we have seen the explosion in "XYZ Management Systems." We're in the age of automated course site construction, digital asset management, and syndicated content. Although they're separate products, these web management systems are really just variations on a theme: automagic web content creation from backend databases.

One of the side effects the industrial revolution of information was the mainstreaming of academic computing. The old academic computing was often inhabited by odd ducks in the I.T. world. Our new focus on enterprise systems has turned us into closer colleagues with the traditional administrative computing types--database administrators, sysadmins, and programmers. Likewise, our colleagues are being drawn into the academic computing world because their skills are being leveraged for projects outside their traditional realms of finance, fundraising, and human resources.

It's all simultaneously fascinating and terrifying. I drew up the diagram below for my Pasadena presentation. It shows the various layers of web management systems that I.T. and I.S. organizations in higher education are currently involved in managing and—more importantly—integrating.graphic showing vertical layers of applications and services provided by Higher Ed. technology services departments. Vertical and horizontal arrows suggest that integration of multitudes of web services takes place within and between application/service layersThe intersecting vertical and horizontal lines are merely my suggestion that these systems and services (along with many others not shown) usually realize their maximum value when they are integrated with each other across and between the levels I've identified. LDAP data about people not only populate scheduling and commerce systems, but they are also useful for defining permissions to alter content in a course management system or customize one's personal views on the campus portal. Images and documents in digital asset management systems are needed in course management systems. And portals? They need to integrate with everything. That's their raison d'être.

Of course, few of these products interoperate out-of-the-box. Even in cases where an extensible architecture exists, it falls to consumers to build the connections between most of the web products they use. There are notable exceptions, of course. Blackboard, Inc. has a modular product line that allows their customers to buy integrated one-card, portal, and course management products. (Their products can also use an LDAP directory for authentication.) If Blackboard's offerings in those product classes fit your institution's needs, your implementation of each may be vastly simplified. Of course, if you subscribe to the full suite of Blackboard products, you have a frightening case of vendor-lock on your hands. There's a risk management scenario that somebody had better be thinking about strenuously before signing the contracts.

Each college and university meets its clients' demands for web services differently. We haven't yet seen the emergence of a software vendor for the academic community with designs or means to achieve total world domination. (Phew!) We are buying, building, leasing and integrating highly customized online environments for our communities. The investment of resources to realize our ambitions is huge, so the scope, mission and priorities for the institution's online existence deserves serious attention at all levels of institutional leadership. Each institution needs wise decision makers who know their communities as well as they know their technologies to help steer their organizations to the best expenditures of resources.

Enterprise computing in academia is a fascinatingly complex puzzle to work on. At long last, technology is as essential to our academic programs as it was fifteen years ago to our administrative offices. As a result, academic computing is finally as deeply woven into the central mission of higher education institutions as teaching and research are. That's a pretty interesting place to be.

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Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Lessons learned about consortial collaboration

Intercollegiate collaborations are a way of life at Swarthmore College. The Tri-college Consortium (Bryn Mawr, Haverford, and Swarthmore Colleges) shares a unified library catalog and a single Blackboard server. The three schools also allow complete cross-registration for courses. Over the past decade, I have been highly involved in three grants funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, including two with the Trico and another with the bi-coastal Web Integration and Sustainability Project. I’ve supported other consortium grants, projects, and committees in support of the Tri-college libraries.

Today I’m going to summarize my observations about long-term collaborative processes between institutions. Before I profess, let me first disclaim. What follows is based on my experiences working within the niche of information technology and library organizations at small, U.S. colleges and universities. While I strongly suspect that many of my conclusions can be extrapolated to inter-organizational collaborations in other contexts, I cannot claim to know this from first-hand experience. I also need to reinforce that my conclusions about the collaborations I've mentioned are my own, and do not necessarily reflect the conclusions of anybody else involved.

The small college context sets the stage.
Technology workers at small colleges have a long tradition of sharing tools, strategies, and information with each other in a spirit of openness. Competitiveness at the level of the technology organization would be anathema to the membership of the Consortium of Liberal Arts Colleges (CLAC), for instance. The sense of shared purpose and the investment in mutual success in this environment is a superb foundation for enabling intercollegiate collaboration.

Despite the receptiveness to collaboration, geographic dispersion and small size are ever-present obstacles in the way of successful collaborations. Unlike how such projects might be handled at larger institutions, small college collaborations rarely have participants whose sole job duties relate to the project at hand. There can be a tendency for consortium work to be seen as “extra work” beyond one’s “real job.” It’s inevitable that accountability and urgency will always be felt more directly for tasks at a worker’s home institution. Since most I.T. workers in higher education work with a degree of autonomy and self-direction, inter-institutional projects will always be a kind of optional work. Even if an individual may be recognized for exceptional contributions to an intercollegiate partnership, the consequences for failure to address local demand are more immediate and painful. There is a large “when push comes to shove” factor for partners outside a participants home institution. These challenges are greatly compounded when the colleagues competing for a worker’s time are thousands of miles away in a different time zone.

Institutional rationale matters most in the planning phase
Organizational leadership must value the participation of its employees in collaborative efforts for the levels of collaboration to be sustained. Staff will typically bias their efforts to achieve success in areas that they perceive to be valued by others. Senior managers are also vulnerable to the same “when push comes to shove” scenarios as the people who report to them. Consequently, collaboration depends on organizations willing to structure themselves for success. Senior managers need to realistically consider their ability to commit sufficient staff resources to the project. They must be sure that staff time can be freed up to enable their participation in the project; that there is appropriate accountability for the completion of project tasks; that other priorities are not likely to overwhelm the team.

The best collaborative projects are those that are difficult to accomplish but that strongly align with institutional priorities. Because of the difficulties inherent in collaborative efforts, shared projects should be scrutinized from a cost-benefit perspective. The investment of resources to get multi-institutional projects off the ground is vastly greater, and the timelines to completion are longer. Planning and consensus-building are more complex. Travel and the reliance on asynchronous modes of communication (email, discussion groups) tend to slow the pace of work. Given the overhead of coordination and administration, participant organizations should focus on collaborative efforts that meet these two criteria:

  1. The outcome of the project should be of vital strategic importance to the institution;

  2. The need for project deliverables is sufficiently far into the future that the project can be completed by realistic deadlines.

To be more succinct, collaborative projects should be terribly important, but not urgent.

Who collaborates matters most in the execution phase.
Institutions in a consortium may set the course for a planned project, but collaboration takes place between people. From this simple statement, a slew of implications follow. Here are just a few examples:

Teamwork is enhanced by social bonds, which are harder to establish between people who don't share a common coffee urn. At the outset, collaborative projects that cross organizational boundaries need to allow for the creation of interpersonal connections. A sense of commonality, or even friendship, encourages accountability and responsiveness between team members. When organizing meetings of peers from different places, coordinators should build social time into the agenda.

Turnover has a profound effect on collaborative efforts, and is even harder to overcome than its effect within the local environment alone. When an employee leaves a position, work on any project will be delayed while a new person is recruited and brought up to speed. Because of the complexities I’ve already mentioned, a new employee may take even longer to build up to full participation in a process with outside collaborators.

Personal style plays a role in whether a particular contributor is inclined to approach a task in ways that reflect and reinforce collaboration. While we can strive to expand any repertoire, a project leader must acknowledge that we often have highly effective employees in our midst whose jobs do not require frequent collaboration on large-scale projects. If advanced communication skills and an orientation toward working collaboratively are needed for important projects, those "soft" skills should be explicitly sought when contemplating assignments or hiring decisions. If an existing employee with a back-office orientation to their work needs to contribute to a collaborative process, he or she may need explicit guidance, support, or encouragement from a project manager.

The institutions invited to collaborate should be sought out for the skill compatibility of the most-likely staff contributors. These personnel factors turn out to be more important than bureaucratic similiarity between institutions. Five schools of similar size and selectivity with very different technical environments will not get as far on a programming project as would five schools with different College guide profiles who had all made strategic commitments to PHP/MySQL and XML development.

Process lessons learned
Make somebody responsible for nurturing the collaboration. Projects inevitably reach roadblocks or stalling points. At these times, it’s important to have people whose built-in role is to reinvigorate the process. Although there are certain things we might do differently, I think one of the most successful strategies of the WISP project was the naming of a so-called “Ops-manager” at each institution. These people were charged with checking on the progress of various working groups and encouraging contributions to group activities.

There is no substitute for being in the same place at the same time. Forget videoconferencing. It’s a technology that has its place, but for the kind of long-term work discussed here, it’s a terribly stale mode of communication. The WISP group settled on a three-tiered approach that seemed to work as well as we could make it. We used a Blackboard site to manage day-to-day questions and document sharing, and to coordinate simple administrative tasks. Regular telephone conference calls helped to keep momentum going in small stages. Most importantly, two to three times a year, we punctuated our efforts with meetings or workshops. The greatest leaps forward always surrounded our gatherings, which reinforces the importance of both building community and creating time to focus on the project.

Design the process to account for unequal participation. The WISP project spent a lot of time struggling to agree on the selection of tools and priorities. This difficulty was exacerbated by our early reliance on task forces that had representation of all four schools. Since flexibility and speed are already at a premium in a group process, it would have been more productive to envision our collaboration as a series of smaller projects, some of which might have formed organically where any two or more participants shared a common interest that they wished to pursue. For a long-standing collaboration, I strongly encourage a more dynamic, modular structure over a more lumbering, bureaucratic one. The Tri-college was faced with an interesting situation recently, which demonstrates how success does not require everybody to be on the same wagon. All three schools share a common Blackboard server hosted at Swarthmore College. Two of the schools wanted to also license the Blackboard Portal. Rather than exert effort trying to persuade the participation of the third school, the first two went about licensing Portal on their own. The third school is welcome to join the party at any time, but in the meantime, the schools that were ready to move forward have not been slowed down by a need for absolute consensus.

Here concludes the brain dump on issues of intercollegiate collaboration. Please add your own ideas in the comments section for this post.

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Thursday, August 05, 2004

More on ARTstor interoperability

Joan Beaudoin at Bryn Mawr College directed me to a piece about ARTstor that was published in the most recent edition of the VRA Newsletter. Here you will find ARTstor's plan for interoperability, as outlined by Barbara Rockenbach, Assistant Director of Library Relations at ARTstor.

This is a very discouraging statement to read.

The first problem is that a full two-thirds of ARTstor's interoperability strategy doesn't involve any interoperability. Exporting a low-resolution image isn't interoperability. Stable URL's are a good thing, but they’re not interoperability either. When a professor has to take her personal images and manually add them to an off-line ARTstor viewer, she's not reaping the benefits of interoperability. In fact, anything that doesn't mention or imply an Application Programmer's Interface (API) isn't interoperability. Applications have to speak to each other, which requires that their programmers write the code that enables transactions between them.

The second problem is that the interoperability ARTstor is planning to build doesn't actually help our primary candidates for ARTstor use. The possibility of seeing ARTstor metadata and thumbnails in the Luna Insight client is useful for occasional research activities, but is insufficient for the core activities of professors and students.

The final problem with ARTstor's approach is its self-centeredness. You may be able to search your local images from the ARTstor someday. Maybe next year they'll even offer image hosting, which dodges interoperability by offering the monolithic solution. In both cases, you can use ARTstor images, but only in ARTstor. (By the way, the pilot projects they are hosting this year are static collections. They won't be modifiable by collections managers, which is an essential level of control for visual resources departments.) Neither of these solutions is even available today.

I have been working under the assumption that the Mellon Foundation sponsored this project with neither of these expected outcomes:
  1. create a dud product that receives a lukewarm response from the higher education community; nor
  2. create a monopolistic software vendor that squeezes commercial and educational/not-for-profit alternatives out of the marketplace.
The former outcome is possible, as I obviously think this interoperability issue is a bigger elephant in the room than ARTstor is currently acknowledging. As frightened as I am that ARTstor might fail, at the moment I'm almost as worried that it will succeed with its current strategy. If most schools eventually capitulate their freedom to select their preferred asset management tools in the name of having a complete teaching collection, the other offerings will eventually wither on the vine. This is especially sad, since ARTstor's image display tools are bested by the capabilities of a slew of other products.

In short, ARTstor is a perfect example of bureaucratic product design where the purveyors failed to understand how the end user would use their product. If they had put the needs of the teacher ahead of the needs of the collector, the ARTstor product would have been built upon an entirely different foundation—ARTstor would be unswervingly focused on getting their images into our slide shows and study sets.

An example of the right way to build a service comes to us from our friends at Apple. The genius of Apple's iTunes Music store wasn't the software interface or the integration with the iPod player. Jobs' masterstroke was that he convinced the conservative rights holders (record labels) that they needed to sign off on terms of agreement that were liberally in favor of the consumers who would pay for the music. Apple understood its customer and built a business plan around it.

If anybody reading this is from the visual resources or library communities or is an instructor who teaches with images, I encourage you to lend your support to the effort to bring about a change in ARTstor’s interoperability directions. Post comments here at Think Thunk. Better yet, put the word out in any appropriate venues you frequent.

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Tuesday, August 03, 2004

ARTstor: the fine line between transformative resource and expensive doodad

This is the incomplete tale of good people whose hard work could fail to accomplish much. (Anybody who has served on a committee will recognize some elements of THAT archetype.) This version of the retelling is particularly sad, because the work that's being done is terribly important. Like a farmer with a bumper crop of wheat who cannot deliver his surplus to starving regions to the south because he only knows how to ship his grain via a westbound train, so now are the well-intentioned people at ARTstor managing to miss their mark within the academic community.

ARTstor is a non-profit organization funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Its core activity since it was created in 2001 has been the creation of the Digital Library Collection. In the intervening span, they've managed to collect several hundred thousand digital images of art objects with their corresponding meta-data. That's an amazing accomplishment by itself.

Why would they bother to do such a thing? The advent of viable digital formats for all sorts of media is a boon for educational institutions. The analog/physical world of traditional libraries has a lot of attendant problems; most notable among these are access and preservation challenges. The Mellon Foundation had come to the rescue of libraries before with the wildly successful JSTOR project. By digitizing the back issues of hordes of scholarly journals (431 as of July, 2004), academic libraries were suddenly able to subscribe to a gigantic reservoir of full-text articles. Their patrons gained greater access, while the libraries were now able to make selective decisions about which journals to preserve in bound form on their shelves.

A similar problem exists in the area of images. Most schools that teach art history have assembled enormous collections of images to support the teaching needs of their faculty. These images are usually in the form of 35mm slides. While slides are a high-resolution medium, they have problems. The most common problem relates to preservation—they slowly turn magenta after a number of years. They also have the inherent problem that their physical form curtails access by multiple simultaneous users. (You know, like students.) Furthermore, the slides are kept separately from their meta-data, which hampers browsing, finding, and research.

Even a small College like Swarthmore has 200,000 slide images, with an annual accession rate that averages around 10,000 images per year. Building the digital collection of our future is not a small problem, even if it is one that mostly affects a small department. Consider also that many of our other programs would benefit from a greater ability to build or access image collections that connect to their own teaching and research.

The academic community has largely acknowledged that our future with respect to collecting images will be done predominantly in digital form. The hardware and software tools necessary to scan, photograph, manipulate, catalogue, and display digital images have collectively reached a level of quality that is appropriate for the academy. The bottleneck is the re-creation and re-description of the images themselves. If Swarthmore only has the resources to manage the accession of 10,000 new images a year, how will it ever keep up with new demand while converting its previous twenty years of collected images?

This is the gap that we all hoped ARTstor would fill. By offering colleges and universities a collection of several hundred thousand images of canonical (and semi-canonical) works, we could be given the head start we so desperately need. Then, rather than collect everything from scratch, we could focus locally on converting and acquiring those images that were needed to address the curricular specialties of our programs. The alternative is a dreadfully inefficient process in which every institution scans or buys the same image of Renoir's bathers and Michelangelo's David, piece-by-piece.

This is the information age, so we shouldn't have to resort to medieval methods for collecting.

The Hitch
The education community needs an ARTstor collection that can serve as the core of our collection development strategy, whether or not that is what ARTstor intended to create. Of course, ARTstor can't be a replacement for institution-specific collections. No matter how broad the ARTstor collection, it cannot provide adequate depth to support all courses. If you're teaching an upper level course on Buddhist temple architecture or Islamic painting, you're not going to find sufficient materials in ARTstor for your lectures and student study sets. ARTstor also has a conspicuous absence of 20th century artworks due to intellectual property constraints.

For this single reason, we must insist that ARTstor offer interoperability with other digital asset management systems designed for image collections, such as Luna Insight and MDID. These are the kinds of applications that visual resource organizations use to construct their own teaching collections.

Teachers who teach with images have a variety of requirements for the asset management systems they use to organize and display images. (If you're interested, you can download a checklist of requirements we drew up for our product search at the Tri-College Consortium.) Among these, there's one overriding deal breaker: all the images for a lecture have to be sequenced and displayed seamlessly from a single source. Unusual exceptions can always be made, but no professor wants to toggle back and forth between multiple sources during a lecture. Teachers of art history move through slides on a slide carousel with practiced fluidity; their digital substitutes won't be used if they create frequent distractions for the instructor and students. The focus must be on the art, not on distractive technology used to show it.

At long last, this is the tragic flaw in our hero, ARTstor. ARTstor's database is not interoperable with other digital image management systems. They have created a database on our behalf, but have inexplicably locked it up in an information silo that makes it almost useless for its most important consumers. You can do everything with ARTstor images that you need to do for most teaching purposes, with the single, depressing exception that you can't include images from other image collections. Nor can you use your MDID or Insight client to perform a federated search across your local collections and ARTstor images. (The latter of these approaches is greatly preferable. Decisions about tools and content should be kept as separate as possible.) Consequently, it is still impossible for an instructor to sequence a simple slideshow of images from these multiple sources.

The situation calls for an open API that would allow any ARTstor subscriber to use its digital asset management system of choice to query the ARTstor image set and display resulting images side-by-side with locally collected images. Unfortunately, that is not the strategy that ARTstor appears to be pursuing.

The shame of the situation is not that ARTstor can't deliver their images through third party systems. Luna Imaging had a small pool of testers who were accessing the ARTstor collections through Insight, but I have been advised that this access was suspended recently. Other developers are willing and able to build the necessary enhancements into their software. The explanation I've been given is that ARTstor is concerned about legal issues that could arise by allowing this type of remote access. To this I can only respond that if they've just trying to figure out that problem now, they've waited years too long to start. It is a total failure to understand higher education's needs not to have built interoperable access into the specifications for the product at the outset. It's as if the organization has spent years trying to figure out how to deliver a gazillion images to its consumers without giving any thought to how the consumers actually use images. If that's really the case, ARTstor is a (non-profit) business with a bad business model.

Colleges like ours have been in a holding pattern for years because we were waiting for ARTstor, waiting for ARTstor, and still waiting for ARTstor. (Apologies to Samuel Beckett.) We can't afford to wait another year or two for this problem to be solved. Everybody I've talked to in the visual resources and academic computing communities has expressed a similar perception that ARTstor has a lot of promise, but is painfully slow to deliver on it.

This interoperability issue is the whole ballgame. Sadly, ARTstor must resolve it or be irrelevant. Other application and business model developments are wasted efforts in the meantime until this barrier is removed. I sincerely hope that ARTstor can be persuaded to make this the first priority of the organization. Although I have been critical of their pace and direction here, I especially want to emphasize that the entire visual resources community is rooting for the success of their effort. How could we not? They're our reluctant champions in waiting.

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Monday, August 02, 2004

The iTunes "Heavy Rotation" list for August

Yes, I'm one of those iTunes junkies.

One of my smart playlists tracks the playcounts of the songs I've added to my iTunes collection in the last 100 days. It gives a nice little peek into the music that I've recently discovered (or rediscovered). For the last 100 days, here are the Top 10 tracks on the Heavy Rotation list:

"Unsatisfied" The Replacements
"The Other Side of This Life" David Byrne
"Take the Skinheads Bowling" Camper Van Beethoven
"Don't Say Nuthin'" The Roots
"Gay Messiah" Rufus Wainwright
"Hound Dog" Big Mama Thornton
"Our Lips Are Sealed" Bikeride
"Free" The Donavon Frankenreiter Band
"Walk Idiot Walk" The Hives
"What's Happenin'" Method Man & Busta Rhymes

I love swapping tips with fellow music lovers, so feel free to drop a line with any scoops you have on the next new great thing.

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