Lauren Goode

Recent Posts by Lauren Goode

Your iTunes Collection, Displayed as a Solar System

Most museum artifacts require careful transportation, temperature-controlled storage or secure glass cases. Not this one.

PlanetaryWebsite

The Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum in New York City has acquired a unique iPad app as part of an open-source project that will allow people around the world to constantly alter the design of the app.

The two-year-old app, called Planetary, was created by the software firm Bloom. Now it shows an iTunes music library displayed as a galaxy. As the Smithsonian’s own website describes it, “Each star represents an artist … a series of planets orbiting the star represent individual albums … each moon is a song on the album.” When you tap a moon, a song begins playing.

The museum anticipates that “geeks worldwide” will now want to modify the app, creating similar designs involving other digital media or objects, like books or DNA. Software developers can access the app’s source code through GitHub, and either use it with other data sets or fold it into another app of their choice.

The curators also hope that people will use emulator software to continue to iterate on Planetary, which would allow it to run on non-iPad machines (should iPads become obsolete, you know, when we’re all riding Hyperloop rockets to our homes on Mars).

Eventually, the app could lose some of that geek cred — Cooper-Hewitt curators plan to create a version of the Planetary app that is a kind of visitor’s guide to the museum’s 217,000 artifacts — but for now it’s focused entirely on the crowdsourced design project.


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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work