back to article Peter Gabriel cranks his f*ck machine

The Filter wants to be your internet friend. And unlike Facebook, it wants to help you ignore all the morons, self-broadcasters and general noisy bombardment that characterises the modern web experience. The pitch is simple. Web users are presented with limitless entertainment choices, and the majority of them are rubbish. To …


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  1. Nick Haw
    Paris Hilton

    Not a good day to be having a bad day

    Taken from the website

    "Damn It!

    Sorry, we're having a bad day and our site is currently down.

    We're fixing it and promise to be back online soon."

    Paris, cause she goes down as easily, allegedly...

  2. Anonymous Coward

    The Filter is Down - 13:22 4th June 2008

    Either that or I am not interested in anything (except error messages).

  3. Whitter

    Follow the money

    Bugger ads. How about a deal with Amazon: as the story points out, the recs there are rubbish, but if they were good, then the big A would coin it in.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Titsup 2.0 already?

    I just read the article and thought that's interesting, I'll go take a look. I was disappointed but also mildly amused to find a banner on the site stating "Damn It! Sorry, we're having a bad day and our site is currently down. We're fixing it and promise to be back online soon."

    Shame to a see a promising idea go titsup so soon.

  5. James Summerson

    "Sorry, we're having a bad day and our site is currently down."

    Typical Gabriel. Site down, much uhm-ing and arh-ing. Probably get back to you in a few years time, then change my mind and not do it after all.

  6. david


    Damn It!

    Sorry, we're having a bad day and our site is currently down.

    We're fixing it and promise to be back online soon.

    * The Filter Blog

    * The Filter Forum

  7. jai
    Paris Hilton

    ...went for a little lie down

    are you saying that ElReg fucked the fuck-machine :-)

  8. Joe K
    Thumb Down


    Site looks pissed in Opera, media player won't work.


  9. Mike Flugennock
    Thumb Down

    So, out with it, Gabriel... much information do you plan to collect from users, how much do you plan to save, and how much do you plan to sell to anyone who wants it, and for how much?

    Oh, and am I the only one here who's always thought that half the fun of the Web was pointing and laughing at all the crap? I've always loved it, since Dotcom Bubble 1.0; in fact, much of my pointing and laughing was done at sites which promised to change the way the world buys its widgets, or something.

    Also gotta love this man-and-machine-merging rap. Jeezus, Gabriel; 1998 called, they want their tired-assed old Internet hype jargon back.

    D'ahh, well. I, for one, welcome our round-cornered-rectangular overlords.


    ps: y'mean, spam from spAmazon still gets through to your box? Jeez, I haven't seen anything from them in over a decade, once their domain hit my procmail list after I got slimed by them -- even though I never had an account with them, nor bought anything from there.

  10. Thomas

    They're using Peter Gabriel to draw people to their service?

    In that case I predict that their Bayesian networks will soon become adept at predicting the tastes of fifty-year old bearded men.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    Ex-Guardian writer?

    Sick of telling people this one...

    "the hoi-polloi" is a tautology - hoi means "the" so "the hoi polloi" means "the the many"

    Also note that hoi polloi does not have a hyphen!!


  12. Chris Williams (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: Ex-Guardian writer?

    Hi Simon,

    Suggest you write to the OED.

    Take the point on the hyphen, it's been removed.

    - Chris

  13. Bernard Valentine

    site back up now

    Sorry the site was actually down for scheduled maintenance (honest) at the time the story went to press. It's still in beta - so we haven't got all of our processes ironed out yet.

    Our wonderfully designed holding page didn't communicate this effectively... It should all be back up now. Oops...

  14. Goat Jam
    Thumb Down


    Well, I managto get in, several hourslaterand they had fixed the site (either that or the Vulture Effect had subsided). Now, I realise that is still beta, but the start of the registration process asks you to choose 3 music genres from the list;






    Rock / Pop


    New Age





    Hip Hop

    Now I realise that I'm quite the auld phart, but there are a few things about this list that deserve comment. For instance, where are the catagories such as "soul","Heavy Metal","Acid","Dance","Motown". These come straight to mind, I'm sure there are others, even without having to drill down into things like 50's, 60's 70's,80's etc

    Also, since when are Rock and Pop synonymous? If I like KISS, does it follow that Rick Astley would also float my boat? (yes, I know, I am showing my age)

    Does R&B refer to classic R&B or that modern rap flavoured dreck that has hijacked the term and from my position is indistinguishable from hip hop? (what is the difference between rap/r&B/Hip hop anyway)

    Now, one could argue that they are only targeting the youf market and I am outside that demographic which I could understand but then why the hell do they include Jazz in the list? Or has jazz been taken by the rap crowd too and I hadn't yet noticed?

    Soundtracks? Who makes a habit of buying just soundtracks? If I buy the soundtrack to Bridgett Jones Diary does it follow that I would also like to buy the orchestral score for say, Star Wars? If you are going to limit the number of genres to support why on earth would you include such a spurious genre as "soundtracks"

    I've got to say if their algorithm is as "well polished" as their seed genres, I can't imagine it would do me much good.

    I was hard pressed to select 2 from the list, and I only got that far because I chose pop/rock. Apparently that was insufficient and it wouldn't let me proceed any further.

  15. Rob Knight
    Thumb Down

    have you tried it? It doesn't recommend anything new!

    I reviewed The Filter yesterday for GoMo News. Basically it didn't recommended me anything that I hadn't already told it I liked!!!!!!

    I went through telling the system more than it apparently needed to know, by selecting more artists than it asks for, I imported my Last FM preferences (40,000 tracks played), an extra way for the system to apparently recommend new music. I even downloaded the widget to intergrate into iTunes...and guess what?

    I told it I like Air..It recommends Air

    I told it I like Good Charlotte ..It recommends Good Charlotte

    I told it....yada yada yada...

    What was The FIlter doing..ringing up my best freinds and asking them!! Is that how Boolean mathematics works :-)

  16. Simon
    Dead Vulture

    to citate or not citate...

    A high brow etymological debate on the exciting.

    Just because there are citations in the OED, it doesn't mean they are correct. They just show current useage of a term/word, whether that be correct or incorrect.

    If hoi polloi were to become a single word, ie hoipolloi, or become hyphenated as you had it originally (although that is, as previously accepted, incorrect), then "the" could justifiably be used.


  17. norisk
    Jobs Halo

    Is that...

    ...really Peter Gabriel, or Steve Jobs' dad?

  18. Ian Ferguson

    Cross-marketing, full stop.

    I fail to see how taking my interests and suggesting more crap which I may or may not be interested in is 'filtering' - sounds just like cross-marketing to me.

    True filtering would be ONLY displaying content relevant to the interests I have given - ie. if I say that all I'm interested in is Lost and Madonna, it'll give me results from the web and news relevant to Lost and/or Madonna, Lost DVDs, Madonna CDs, etc. There's a name for this system - 'Google'*

    (*although to be fair, this could still do with better filtering)

  19. Anonymous Coward

    How long before...

    Spammers and scammers start seeding the system with crap...

    "We see that people that bought tracks by Peter Gabriel also purchased loads of Viagra"...


    "We see that people that bought tracks by Phil Collins also need to update their banking details"

  20. Nick Davey


    "If I like KISS, does it follow that Rick Astley would also float my boat? "

    I sense a web 2.0 rickroll phenomena starting up....

  21. James Summerson

    Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.

    What a painful process it is to get registered - random genre picks and a very small range of items to rate.

    Finally get a login and it gets worse! The first three CDs it said I'd like are:

    Emenem / 50 Cent / Usher

    even though I have zero rated these artists *and* genres.

    OK, give it a go with something it can handle. Search for Genesis and it throws up 5 tracks to peruse - two of them are mis-titled, ffs, including the only one that has Mentor / Great Old One Peter Gabriel on it.

    Time to get that Slipperman costume out again, Pete!

  22. Anonymous Coward


    "Just because there are citations in the OED, it doesn't mean they are correct. They just show current useage of a term/word, whether that be correct or incorrect."

    What the hell is this thing "language" then, if it's not *what people say*. If you woke up tomorrow and everyone else in the UK was calling the colour of snow "black" and the colour of coal "white", would you have the brass neck to go around and tell everyone that they're wrong and that black is white?

    Language is democratic.

    Majority rules.

    Hoi polloi decides "the hoi polloi" is correct.

    Pedants cry, moan and whinge.

    The hoi polloi don't care.

    The language belongs to the hoi polloi.

    Life goes on.

  23. Mike Moyle

    Re: Re: Ex-Guardian writer?

    @ Chris Williams

    Yes, but can one really trust as a grammarian someone who titles the page:

    "The the 'hoi polloi' debate"

    rather than:

    "The 'the hoi polloi' debate"?


  24. jai

    Re: Re: Ex-Guardian writer?

    how can i change my username to "hoi hoi polloi"

  25. Mark

    He's not wrong

    Too much choice can lead to paralysis of indecision or the avoidance of deciding because "it's all too confusing".

    However, one of the reasons why old Napster saw a boost in CD sales and then a fall soon after it fell is that sometimes you don't know what you like until you hear it. And having your choices limited (either by being edited out as here, or having to pay first as with non-Napster sources) stops you from finding out new things.

    To put it in biological terms, the realm of the possible with easy access to all entertainment is much greater than the artificial environment of Clearchannel/New Napster/Filtering.

  26. Martin Beckett Silver badge

    Could be big in the US

    Apparently there are people there who take everything Genesis says as the word of god!

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Patriots are at it again...

    Seriously, have these people been playing too much Metal Gear Solid 2 or something?

  28. Lee T.

    Seems familiar

    this sounds an awful lot like a crappier, commercialier version of pandora the music genome project. I found its reccomendations astonishingly good, as its not based on "genre" but on the music genome projects research and classification of songs based on many different criteria. Only available in the US now, unfortunately, they were forced by the RIAss. to implement IP filters. Pity, it was the only internet radio i had listened to for long, as their system semed to work. It sounds like this new one doesn't.

  29. trackSuit

    Words from the mouth of a dDead man?

    Thomas Bayes.... described by Wikipedia as a 'nonconformist'. Also a clergyman, from an era of enthusiastic hobby scientists and Researchers, in the 1700's, where all that was New was Fair Game, waiting to be discovered and published as discovered for all to see and agree/disagree. An historic past time passtime and also present time passtime, which some would argue is way past time 42 do IT again when IT is open and waiting.... teasing and temptingly tantilising to all with an inquiring mind and an ability to solve problems.

    And wow! What a lot of things have been attributed to Thomas Bayes, who was not a particularly prolific publisher of papers -silent waters must run deep. With some of his work being published posthumously. Now it seems nobody is anybody in the world that is AI [Artificial Intelligence], without name-dropping Bayes or 'Baysian inference' into the jargon/feed.

    But thanks for the reminder, Chris Williams. Sometimes it payes sweetly to revisit even endlessly talked about topics/names/concepts, in case they warrant a second look/hide useful MetaData in the chaff/background noise.

    And what's this? A Baysian paper I have not read....

    "Divine Benevolence or an Attempt to Prove That the Principal End of the Divine Providence and Government is the Happiness of His Creatures (1731), by Thomas Bayes".

    Looks Fresh, even now. Well played that fellow -looks like it will be a six. Time to check IT out.

    From Banksy to Baysie to Count Basie, all in one evening -transparent time-travel and task switching -on the Internet Super Freeway.

  30. Ron Eve

    @Seems familiar

    I thought Pandora was good too <sniff> but you might want to try Radio Paradise ( or it's in iTunes under Alternative) for a very eclectic mix... No gobby DJ''s or ads just the occasional station ident. No repeats (well, not in one day) and sometimes amazing playlists for hours on end...

    I know - a bit off topic but I thought I'd share the love...

  31. Anonymous Coward

    Re: Ex-Guardian writer?

    Simon, you got the wrong reference. You should have referred to a manual of style rather than a history of usage. Here's the summary: In English, "hoi polloi" is considered a noun phrase, so it's treated like a single word; hence "the hoi polloi". Some people argue that for this to be the case, the word should be hyphenated ("hoi-polloi") or compounded ("hoipolloi"), and so, they argue, either "the" or "hoi" is redundant.

    I'll leave you to ponder "The El Alhambra"...

  32. David Mantripp

    I don't remember, I don't recall

    They launched this as a desktop app ages ago, sort of plugged into iTunes or something. It was complete pants.

    Or maybe I've got no memory of anything, anything at all.

    (mine's the one with Wembley Arena 1982 on the back, thanks)

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Amazon scheme works okay

    Okay, I've never actually bought anything it has recommended, but I have borrowed DVDs and CDs based on it and found it does a pretty good job. They have a nice little link that tells you on which purchase they have recommended something and it allows you to ignore that, so if you bought a present of something you hate then it won't use that to create recommendations. Once you get rid of all the recommendations that you already have or know that you hate, it works pretty well.

    It doesn't really seem all that complicated to create an algorithm that does

    Man1 likes U2, The Police, New Order

    Man2 likes U2, The Police, Genesis

    Recommend Genesis to Man1

    Recommend New Order to Man2

    Just a large multi-dimensional array and some correlating functions, job's a good 'un.

  34. James Summerson
    Thumb Down

    @Lee T.

    I agree with you about Pandora, a much missed service here.

    The filter's much much clunkier and seemingly half finished, even Mr Gabriel's back catalogue isn't fully represented, missing out his first four albums. Good job he doesn't need the money, eh?

  35. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    The Patriots?

    "Seriously, have these people been playing too much Metal Gear Solid 2 or something?"

    Lol wut?

  36. Shabble

    It's not the economy, stupid!

    El Reg seems to be expecting some kind of Web 2.0 implosion... and a certain Andrew Orlowski has been denying the existence of Web 2.0 for ages. The mistake folk seem to be making on this site is equating Web 2.0 (the web as we now use it) with the economic framework that has grown up around Web 2.0. The argument runs like this: the real world and the real economy are intrinsically linked. If you can't make money from a cultural activity in the real world, then it isn't significant because people will always pay for something that is important to them. Web 2.0 is an on-line version of the real world, and as you can't make money from Web 2.0, then (QED) Web 2.0 doesn't matter.

    But this ignores the fact that the Web 2.0 economy (as defined by the provision of Web 2.0 services) is still largely peripheral to normal Web 2.0 use. Google goes bankrupt tomorrow? Everyone switches to Yahoo and Web 2.0 life goes on as usual. Wiki gets wiped out? A replacement will spring up in a few weeks (if not days). Unlike the real world, Web 2.0 society doesn't need Web 2.0 economy: the success of video sharing doesn't depend on the ability of YouTube to make money and the future of social networking doesn't lie in the advertising revenues of FaceBook and Myspace. Start up costs are so low, overheads so small and the economies of scale so high that Web 2.0 can get by on a much smaller investment than is possible for real world services. For Web 2.0, the on-line megacorps are entirely disposable because they are so easy to replace. The reason there is so little money to be made from Web 2.0 is because Web 2.0 needs so little money to get by.

    Web 3.0 - the web where BT allows you to use only one search engine, and where Virgin allow you to use only one video sharing site - now that will be a different matter altogether.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In the beginning....Genesis 1.1

    @ Peter Gabriel: "I know what I like & I like what I know."

    @ others: go surf, it's surprising what you can find.

    With regard to the site being down earlier: "some fucker fucking fucked the fucker."

  38. Martin Beckett Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    @The Amazon scheme works okay

    Except when it recommends endless Titchmarsh books cos you once bought a gardening magazine sub for your mum.

    Or it starts recommending pin up calenders to you cos there is an author Iain (m) Banks that I like, and a swimsuit photographer called Ian Banks that I never heard of.

    I suppose paris designed it.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Only Indie Bands 4 Me

    Google is your friend and will set you free.

  40. Andy Worth


    Peter Gabriel........I fart in your general direction!

    Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!

    A real recommendation engine wouldn't ask you to choose three genres to begin with, especially not using that list (there are many missing as others have stated). They should ask people to input some of their favourite tracks and then determine the genres people prefer from that list. The more of your favourite tracks you enter, the more accurate it would become.

    As for taste matching.....great, so it offers people another way to become sheep to other peoples tastes?

  41. BillPhollins
    Paris Hilton

    Yes, I hate Phil Collins too

    Actually, Peter and Phil are best friends.

    ...Live and Loose in Paris

  42. Anthony


    Why do you have to tell it what you like? Why can't it just tap into <insert favourite media player here> and listen, why hasn't it already perused my media directories to make sure it isn't recommending stuff I already own?

    Whatever happened to listening to the radio, going online or to concerts to find new music?

  43. Mark SPLINTER

    time to sort this out

    As for grammar nazis... why dost thou not speak correctly? why dost thou lungs and not gills posess?

    As for the Web2.0 economy / net neutrality freak: There is very little money in web 2.0 because.... drumrolll .... the content is not worth paying for, and advertising isn't very effective in a majority of applications, people's brains are active, poking their friends, not dreaming with an inactive brain while TV ads parade by. They simple have better things to do than play bingo.

    As for the "we have a new algorithm that will find stuff for you" delusionals.... errr... the reward in finding something is that it was HARD to find. If you make it easy to find, it becomes less interesting. People do not make quantifiable judgements on the quality of music, they seek something to define their individuality. Is my individuality defined by an algorithm recommending me Oasis because I like Blur? NO. NO. NO.

    And as for "genres" omfg. Is it dubstep, newstep, dub, dubby techno, garage or grime? Good luck with that categorisation. 3 dubstep fans could argue for 1 hours about it. Pick the wrong subgenre label and I will think I don't like the music, and therefore not click, however similar it is to its sister genres. Seeing as the job of a good musician is to combine and confound categories and categorisation, this shit is DOOMED i say. DOOMED.

    Of course, technologists and consumers and marketeers don't understand this because they think they are making rational, quantifiable decisions about ART. They are not. It's like trying to disprove the existence of God. Talk all you want, it's still a mystery, and it's BETTER if it's a mystery.

  44. James Summerson
    Thumb Down

    Milgram's 37

    An apposite lyric from Mr Gabriel:

    "we do what we're told

    we do what we're told

    we do what we're told

    told to do"

    Been thrashing through the filter and the Support Forum. Man, that thing is bugged to hell and back - it seems that if I like King Crimson, I will also like Gerry & The Pacemakers - wha?

    Some of the stuff in the beta, such as errors you see after clicking on the back / forward button at 'the wrong time' should have been picked up long before this version, IMHO.

  45. David Evans
    Thumb Down

    Needs work... say the least! After 13 years I still await the first of these recommendation engines that actually recommends me something surprising that I'd be interested in, and I include Amazon in that; the only benefit seems to be with pre-orders; I've had the odd recommendation for an author's upcoming new title that I was unaware of (new Neal Stephenson title most recently, on Bookrabbit I seem to remember), but that's about it. As for this effort, its very buggy (westerns mixed up with sci-fi, incorrect pack shots etc), and initial taxonomy seems decidedly odd (and dare I say it, American). The other big flaw, especially on the movie side, is their trick of giving a movie title, but without an image, making many movies (e.g. remakes) impossible to rate without delving into the product detail, and who can be bothered with that? At least it doesn't have the annoying Amazon habit (yet) of recommending you the same movie in a million different versions/formats; if I say I dislike say, "Braveheart" on DVD, I'm hardly going to want it on NTSC VHS am I? Doesn't stop Amazon trying to flog me it that way though.

  46. James Summerson


    the filter does have a plug-in for Windows Media Player, Winamp and iTunes. Pity I don't use any of them.

  47. William Old


    ... is a mechanism for communication, and communication works best when language usage isn't ambiguous. Precision in the use of vocabulary and (most importantly) grammar ensures that if the listener hears the words, he/she understands what the speaker intended to communicate.

    So when the illiterati dribble on in text-speak and fail to use language properly, it simply increases the likelihood of miscommunication and misunderstanding. That's why we should continue to point out grammatical errors and to correct them.

    I might sound like a grammar Nazi, but I've just watch a TV advert for Dettol that refers to "one bacteria"* and I've had to lie down in a dark place to recover... I haven't felt this bad since Baby BMI produced a TV ad in the North-West that advised about the "Additional fee for credit card's"... the Apostrophe Protection Society (there really is one) was not amused.

    [* The singular form of the plural noun "bacteria" is "bacterium". I despair about the extent of the damage that lliterate advertising droids have done to our language.]

  48. Mark SPLINTER

    language is a mechanism for communication?

    Man, you're like, so retarded. Language is a hell of a lot more than a "mechanism for communication," buddy. Language is identity. And you know what? People like to be a bit individual with their identity. What are you going to nazify next, you wanna go round london and correct everyone every time they use a double negative? Interesting that the double negative is actually standard in Lithuanian, the most archaic living language in Europe, closest to sanskrit. So maybe you should go round Oxford and tell everyone to use the double negative because it's "correct".

    There. I used "bad" grammar and you still understood me. To expand your narrow perception of the function of language, I suggest you read a freaking book about it.

  49. mark jacobs
    Thumb Down

    Yet Another Portal!

    Honestly, just let us peeps choose our own internet sources. We don't need a jumped up set of freaks filtering our web content for us. The NSA are already trying to do that for us! Jeez!

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ William Old

    You're absolutely right. However in the time it took you to type "one bacteria" there's probably more than one.

    After reading your first paragraph I feel I should draw your attention to the line

    "I might sound like a grammar Nazi, but I've just watch a TV advert for Dettol that refers to "one bacteria"...". Perhaps you meant "watched".

    Forget the darkened room, I hear counselling is available on the NHS.

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