Thursday, November 30, 2023

the insulting algorhythm

Whenever I am listening to something off YouTube, and the selection in question ends and I'm distractedly doing something else and not making an active choice about what to listen to next... then  what plays next automatically is invariably a dub techno mix. Something that descends from Basic Channel / Chain Reaction but drained of all swing, soul, and sensuality. 

Things like this 

or this

as created by this anonymous - conceivably nonhuman - YouTube channel

What puzzles me is that this is not music that I habitually listen to, or indeed ever listen to. So where is the algo getting its data from? On what is it basing these suppositions about my supposed audio sweet  spot? 

If it was tracking my purposeful activity on Youtube - playlisting, watch-listens, searches etc - and  wanted to come up with something appealing to make stick me around... well, it ought to be choosing something from the following categories: peak-era ardkore and jungle, pirate radio sets and pirate radio adverts, weird old East European animations, Britcoms and TV plays from the 1970s, various sorts of avant-garde and electronic library music, maybe some jazz fusion and some reggae...

Below-par dub techno - it's one of the the last things I'd ever want to hear! Right down there with trance and landfill indie,

Truthfully, it's music that I've never listened to -  except for a period in the late '90s when I scooped up all the classic Basic Channel and for a while religiously bought each new Chain Reaction until the label went right off the boil. I did like Pole. I loved Gas. 

If I was going to listen to that kind of thing, I would listen to exactly that kind of thing - those artists, those labels. I wouldn't seek out some dilute knock-off version. 

But clearly YouTube thinks it's got the measure of me and that's someone who's easily palmed off with the ersatz and tertiary-level derivative. 

Perhaps it can tell that I'm preoccupied with something else, work or reading an article or following some internet spoor ... and thinks to itself "hmmm, this old fart would like something vaguely dancey yet inconspicuous, that'll putter along warmly and soothingly in the background". 

On the contrary - every time it drops into that marshmallowy amorphogroove, I jolt into alertness, exasperated - "not this shit again!".

I swear there was a week or two where it was the exact same mix that would restart in any YouTube lull.

Mind you, these dub techno and ambient techno and ambient dub techno mixes, they are all such featureless blanks, so boringly and un-alluringly titled,  I might just be imagining it's the identical mix each time... 


Fernando Ramírez Ruiz said...

After searching for philosophy related stuff I got videos about accepting yisus as my saviour. And I´m more like the "Burn the churches" kind of person. But there´s a good side about it I think: These algo / AI´s whatever are not that smart!

Matthew McKinnon said...

Fernando -

Similar here. I watch a lot of US politics news on YouTube - your basic slightly left-wing liberal MSNBC type stuff - but I still get links to right-wing nut job videos from time to time if the subject matter (not the attitude or approach) crosses over.

Anonymous said...

Its likely cheaply generic fluff YouTube either commissioned or got for bargain basement license fees. Spotify do the same thing with background type music (instrumental hip hop, nature sound, ambient synth...), their "background jazz" playlist largely forgoes Miles, Charlie Parker and Coltrane in favour of AI generated jazz piano and young Scandinavian semi-pro musicians they can pay peanuts to.

Anonymous said...

Unrelated, but it made me chuckle:

Thirdform said...

I used to get 'jacob rhees-mogg destroys sjw' by accounts such as '50000 patriots.' But actually I am quite vigorously against using youtube for politics at all, because I mean it is always deluded compared to a book or a piece that a political collective has worked on.

Maybe because I watched a couple of Paxman interviews? I dislike the public school bugger intensely, so I suppose it did get that right, but absolutely nothing else about my politics at all (communist.)