Smule's Ocarina design

I guess all of you know Ocarina, a very simple music application on the iPhone. It was kind of hip 1-2 years ago. Interestingly, I ran across this academic paper which describes how Smule designed this app.

Some excerpts I found interesting:

"Given that there are now over a million Smule Ocarina players around the world, this is significant. Over 20 millions snippets have been created and shared, each with precise timing, key, melody information. We have only begun to mine this significant body of musical data. The anonymity of the social interaction is also worthy of note – everyone is only identified via a self-chosen handle (e.g., Link42), their GPS location, and through his/her music. And yet, according to overwhelming user feedback, this seems to be compelling in and of itself. (...) there is a sense of “magic” in wide-area, massive scale location, and furthermore, identity is perhaps not crucial (and anonymity can be just as powerful as it encourages different types of social interactions). Finally, the sheer number of Ocarina users at large shows that perhaps with the right approach and settings (e.g., mobile, personal, easy), we can encourage a large population to engage in expressive music making, and even create global communities virtually overnight. "

The tablatures for user-generated scores are also interesting. Look at the shape:

Why do I blog this? it's always interesting to understand the designers' intentions and reflect upon what has been produced. Ocarina, is basic but its social and locative media component is quite interesting. It's perhaps one of the best example of having an interface that gives a community a mirror about its ongoing activity.