Gabriel’s music service aims to cut out the noise


4 Jun 2008

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Musician Peter Gabriel’s entertainment recommendation site www.thefilter.com has launched in public beta.

The ex-Genesis frontman’s project is an intelligent, interactive portal designed to help users discover new music, film and web video based on their individual tastes and moods.

Gabriel intends to extend this technology to other types of content, such as books, TV and podcasts, to enable the technology to be a filter for everyday life.

While currently a recommendation site, it aims to form partnerships that will lead to full-track streaming of songs, movies or TV shows. Users create a short profile when they sign up which is used to recommend content. As a person’s use increases, the recommendations can become more streamlined and relevant, with the technology ‘learning’ the user’s preferences.

Users receive a daily homepage of music, film and web video recommendations customised to their taste.
“The first freedom the internet brought was the possibility of access to any content, at any time, or anywhere,” said Gabriel.
“Now that many of us are drowning in choice, we need good tools to help us make smart decisions. Traditionally, we have had help from people who are more knowledgeable than ourselves, or whose taste we trust, and today we have expert systems to help guide us.

“The Filter integrates the best of both approaches, man and machine, and takes data learned in one area to help guide in another,” he added. “For example, data about musical taste can help produce better selections in film, or someone else’s tastes – friend, celebrity, whatever – can be mashed up with your own to provide new and interesting discoveries. As well as being fantastically useful, this thing is real fun too.”

Users can also import their last.fm of flixster listening and viewing history to improve the relevance of recommendations. As well as this, it is possible to download The Filter for Mac or The Filter for Windows. This will “scrobble” the user’s iTunes, Winamp or Windows Media Player library to improve recommendations, as well as marking songs in the library as ‘owned’ and thus preventing them being recommended again.

“We are leaving the era of contextual search and entering the era of personalised filtering,” said David Maher Roberts, CEO of The Filter. “It’s like the last few years have been all about digitising the supply of content, and now we need a smart tool to figure out demand in a digital world where everything is available to any one at any time. The Filter is that smart tool.”

The pick-list on the site is fed through a number of filters to deliver the customised recommendations. The Filter then incorporates simple filters to bias results by personal taste, popularity, era or genre.

More complex filters can also be applied to capture mood, the influence of friends, third-party experts or reviewers. In addition to the website, The Filter’s algorithms will be made available to existing media companies to enhance their filtering and recommendation systems.

By Niall Byrne

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