Recently, a new Wikipedia mashup came on the scene – WikiFM, this one a mashup of Wikipedia and popular music streaming service Last.fm. The mashup lets you listen to Last.fm via a player loaded in a frame on the right while the Wikipedia page for the artist or band is loaded in the frame on the left. The idea itself is great, but the execution of the mashup leaves a lot to be desired.
By default, WikiFM loads the artist or band in the right side frame, but by clicking through the tabs at the top, you can also load the Wikipedia article for the song, a web site of the lyrics, or your own profile page at Last.fm.
Unfortunately, this is one mashup that just doesn’t perform. To begin with, the site is, quite frankly, unattractive. It features a black background with white text on the left side, where the Last.fm player’s frame is located, and on the right, there is the white background of Wikipedia with its blue links and black text. Then, of course, when you browse to the Last.fm tab, the frame is filled with Last.fm’s red. All these disjointed colors make browsing the site hard on the eyes.
Even so, design issues could be overlooked if the service functioned. But as Eliot van Burkirk (blogger at The Listening Post) found out – the site would not work while he was signed into Last.fm. Only upon signing out of the Last.fm service could he enjoy the mashup’s features.
We had the same problem here, and we have to question the value of a Last.fm mashup that doesn’t even allow you to be signed into your Last.fm account.
In addition, the site would get hung up while buffering the track, but instead of being able to load up the Last.fm frame and click around the site, you would be stuck staring at a white page until the service gave up, announcing “Oops! We had a problem connecting!” Only a refresh of the page can get the site going at this point – the tabs stay permanently non-functional at this point if you don’t reload the page.
So, unfortunately, this mashup did not follow through very well.
Instead, we would like to point you to a couple of places where you’ll find a much better Wikipedia/music mashup experience.
The site called MusicPortl, for example, does a nice job. Besides incorporating Wikipedia content, the site also offers flickr photos tagged with the artist’s name, photos of the releases that link to Amazon and allow you to download cover art, tags that link you to similar artists or genres, links to blog entries about the artist, links to videos, and even links to search for that artist on Google, Yahoo! Music, or Pitchfork. MusicPortl is also an attractively designed site, especially when compared to WikiFM. Unfortunately, there is no option to actually stream the music itself.
For streaming, there is FoxyTunes Planet, a Yahoo! Music service that provides much of what MusicPortal offers, but also links directly to top tracks and albums while compiling results, including links, photos, videos, and lyrics from Wikipedia, Last.fm, Rhapsody, Yahoo Search, flickr, YouTube and Amazon. But most importantly, music from the band or artist can be streamed via either Pandora or The Hype Machine right from the artist’s page.
Either of those sites provide a better mashup experience than WikiFM, to get you through until a better Last.fm/Wikipedia mashup can be found.