The Null Device
A new study has confirmed that people like the music that other people like, rather than judging it objectively:
Researchers created an artificial "music market" of 14,341 participants drawn from a teen-interest Web site. Upon entering the study's Internet market, the participants were randomly, and unknowingly, assigned to either an "independent" group or a "social influence" group. Participants could then browse through a collection of unknown songs by unknown bands.
In the independent condition, participants chose which songs to listen to based solely on the names of the bands and their songs. While listening to the song, they were asked to rate it from one star ("I hate it") to five stars ("I love it"). They were also given the option of downloading the song for keeps.
In the social influence group, participants were provided with the same song list, but could also see how many times each song had been downloaded.
Researchers found that popular songs were popular and unpopular songs were unpopular, regardless of their quality established by the other group. They also found that as a particular songs' popularity increased, participants selected it more often.
So what drives participants to choose low-quality songs over high-quality ones? "People are faced with too many options, in this case 48 songs. Since you can't listen to all of them, a natural shortcut is to listen to what other people are listening to," Salganik said. "I think that's what happens in the real world where there's a tremendous overload of songs."Which certainly explains [insert massively popular yet mediocre artist in the genre of your choice here].
(via Boing Boing)
Budget airline Ryanair, known for flying to cheap airports hours away from the cities they nominally serve, has outdone itself. The airline ran ads in Norway offering flights to "London Prestwick" airport. Prestwick, on the outskirts of Glasgow, is 400 miles (and some 5 hours by train) from London, and technically not even in the same country; chances are that, if you're already at said airport, the quickest and cheapest way of getting to London would be to catch another flight.