Liveplasma music and movie discovery web app – review

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Liveplasma: a music and movie discovery engine

Overview

Liveplasma is a web application that creates a visualization that represents relationships between movies or musicians. The purpose of this visual aid is to help a user find new music or movies. The visual diagram is very attractive, with coloured lines and nodes representing the connections between the artists or movies.
The application has a very simple interface. The landing page only contains a single search box for users to enter the name of a musician or a movie.
The web of relationships is generated using data from the Amazon Ecommerce API. A cursory comparison between the Liveplasma results and Amazon results for the same artist appears to indicate that Liveplasma uses Amazon’s “customers who bought this item also bought” data. Liveplasma, however, does not actually disclose how the relationships are formed, so this is speculation based on the app’s information page on the website programmableweb.com.
Liveplasma will appeal to users interested in locating new artists or movies. Fans of a particular movie or artist often seek related content, and Liveplasma helps provide some choices in a fun and visually appealing fashion.

The Pros

The number of connections Liveplasma offers is its primary advantage. The app provides more than direct connections to the selected artist or movie. It also suggests secondary and, in some cases, tertiary connections, that allow users to follow the path of discovery beyond suggestions displayed by Amazon’s “customers who bought this item also bought” feature. To help expedite access to the newly discovered movie or artist, Liveplasma connects directly to the Amazon.com record if the user clicks on the album or movie cover.

The Cons

The Liveplasma app does not explain how the artists or movies relate to one another. Some digging does reveal the API involved, but it is not explicit on the site. In the case of music, the app uses different coloured lines and nodes, but does not explain what the different colours might represent. If
Figure 1: The visual relationship between the artist Shad and other artists.
there is a reason beyond aesthetics for the colour choices, users may appreciate a key explaining what they mean so they can make more informed decisions.
The visualization appears to have an interface that will allow the user to move the nodes independently from one another. This is not the case, and is somewhat disappointing because in some cases the nodes are touching and, therefore, difficult to read.

How it stacks up

When Liveplasma is compared to Tuneglue, a similar visual discovery system, Liveplasma would be this reviewer’s choice. Liveplasma has a more visually appealing graphic and it creates a large web of relationships on the first search. It’s also more versatile because it offers movie discovery, as well as, music.
Tuneglue offers the user more control over the appearance of the visualization, which would be a “nice to have” in Liveplasma. In Tuneglue the user can move, remove, and expand the nodes.
A user who finds the Liveplasma display too busy may appreciate Tuneglue’s single level of connections. However, this reviewer preferred to have the whole map appear immediately.

Conclusion

Liveplasma is an easy to use discovery engine with an attractive output. Some adjustments in the graphical interface, and a clear explanation of how the relationships are made, would improve on this application. Overall, it is worth checking out if you are looking for new movies or music.

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