This week I made very little progress on the actual progression of the project, (it was a rough week in terms of school work) but what I did get done was an interview with my potential stakeholder. For the 209 class I needed to find a professor on campus that could provide some advice on the project, and who could be considered a potential stakeholder for the project due to their field. I talked with Dr. Shofner, a professor in the biology department with PhDs in both ecology and zoology, hoping that I could get some input about the process of actually building a large, unconventional, phylogenetic tree. She said she hadn’t seen anything specifically like this before, but had seen some instances of phylogeny used for unconventional purposes, with good results.
The interview with Dr. Shofner gave me a boost in confidence about making this a credible, unique representation of musical genetics, and she provided insight about other features that I should add in order to fully explore the potential of the design. Specifically, we talked about the issue of temporality, and making the project unique while not ignoring that crucial characteristic, the necessity of making predictions when working with phylogenetic trees, and the inclusion of fluidity and user input that had been discussed before, but brushed to the side.
The temporal aspect is something that I had been struggling with in this project. Is it ignoring too much to disregard time’s role in the evolution of rock music, and if I do include it, will it prove the other characteristics, that I wish to focus on, less important? Dr. Shofner’s advice was that a temporal aspect is necessary, and it is important to at least acknowledge the huge role that time plays in evolution. However, when building the tree, it would be justifiable to follow the principle of parsimony (evolution follows the simplest path) based upon characteristics instead of time, as long as I can justify my decision to do so.
This led to a discussion of predictions. Phylogenetic trees by definition are hypotheses, and half of the point of constructing them is in order to find patterns about the past and make predictions about the future. I will likely add a predictions section to my final product now, which is another aspect that will make it unique from other mappings of music currently available.
The user input aspect of this project was brushed aside in the past because it would require me to be constantly screening user submissions. However, in order to gain more credibility as a project, I would like to have input from others and a level of iteration and collaboration. Before the project is finalized I can do this by presenting the tree to local musical organizations for feedback, such as WMUC, and once the project is finished for the semester then I will likely have two comment areas on the site, only visible by me, that will be user reflection and input (with justification), and user suggestion of subgenres I missed. The screening will be minimal because only I will see the submissions, and they will be important to any adaptations the tree undergoes during and after the semester ends.
Genre of the week: Indietronica
Indietronica is a subgenre that began to grow in the 2000s, and consisted of rock based musicians that reached back and incorporated aspects characteristic of groups of the 1980s, such as an affinity for synthesizers and digital instruments. The genre often overlaps with pop acts, but retains electronic and rock qualities.