Boffin’s Needless Visualization

I randomly happened upon this little technology demo from It’s called Boffin, and, using’s metadata, it generates a tag cloud out of your music collection. You click a couple of tags, click play and it provides yet another way to slice and dice one’s sprawling music archives. Here’s what mine looks like:

Boffin Tag Cloud

The top half of the cloud is more accurate than the bottom half. I’m not sure how much of my music is “hair metal approved”, and I’m pretty sure it’s over-representing the fraction of my collection that is Norwegian.

But that’s not really what I want to talk about. When you install and first run Boffin, it needs to scan your music collection. I have about 10,000 songs, so that took quite a while. During this process, however, Boffin displayed this lovely visualization of my music:

The YouTube-hosted screencast video is a bit sketchy, but you get the idea. It’s a totally unnecessary feature–actually useless, as it happens. But I found the cascading images of bands kind of hypnotizing. I really appreciated that the app designer when that extra step to make a very ordinary process–scanning your hard drive for music–a little remarkable.

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