Buzzfeed recently reported on a curious feature that Google offers as a part of its Google Drive (formerly Google Docs) product. Many spreadsheet jockeys have been known to start a series in the first two cells of a worksheet (e.g. Days Of The Week, Months of the Year, etc.) and use the autofill feature to complete the series in the cells that follow. Apparently, this functionality has been extended to lists of just about anything, by employing a word association algorithm developed by Google engineers. After observing how techcrunch applied this feature to brands of beer, Buzzfeed was able use Google Drive to generate a list of wine varietals.
The result sets it brings back are revealing and sort of amusing, so I thought it'd be interesting to test the feature with facts about The Barn's favorite bands and see how familiar Google was with our scene.
First I attempted to seed the list with Grateful Dead and Phish and see what bands it could come up with in that series -- hoping we'd get a good list of of jammers.
Not bad, Google. It offered Panic, moe., Umphrey's, Yonder and SCI all within the first dozen hits. Then we get Furthur, invididual members of Phish, MMW and some other variants down the list, before moving downscale on the fabled jamband "tier" scheme. Some questionable choices towards the top (Quagmire Swim Team? Sour Deemsters?), but I definitely like to see Benevento and Russo rounding out the top 50.
Next, I decided to go deep with the Dead. I seeded a spreadsheet with Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir to see if they can complete the roster of all the players that made up the band over the years.
Phil comes up quickly, but somehow John K. is offered before Pigpen, Keith and Brent. Still, the set eventually includes all members of the band including both lyricists, their lighting designer, the remaining members of Furthur, Warren Haynes, and even Bob Dylan. Pretty slick.
Okay, it's pretty good with band member names. Next attempt is with Phish songs. I chose to seed with Possum and The Moma Dance, thinking maybe I'd trick it into thinking this could be a list of animals....
But no, Google comes through mightily, even grabbing relatively rare songs (NICU), both Tweezer AND Tweezer Reprise, covers and originals. Not even a questionable call in the bunch. It even left off Time Turns Elastic.
So Google comes through in the jamband department. The next test was to see if it could distinguish between classic rock and classic indie rock. I seeded one list with The Beatles and The Stones and the other with Arcade Fire and Bon Iver.
Bam! Not only is Google well versed in rock history, it also has more indie cred than you.