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February 25, 1999 - Image 9

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1999-02-25

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.


161% The MichiganDaily-_Rekend,_etC._Magazine_- Tiday,_February25;,i999*
Former rock 'n'
roller now heads
hip local database

0

By Sasha Higgins
Daily Arts Writer
There is no doubt that we live in an
information age. We are told answers to
the most obscure questions are very
often only a click of a mouse away. But
many computer users have spent hours
searching in vain for a topic after a
search engine has provided 10,000 pos-
sible links. And of course most of these
links only mention the topic in a sen-
tence.
But if the topic you're seeking has
anything to do with entertainment, a
visit to the All Media Guide Website
can introduce the computer user to a
whole new realm of surfing, and
should make everyone respect their old
PCs that much more.
AMG is located in Ann Arbor and
is the largest entertainment infor-
mation database on the planet.
Mvichael Erlewine, a University
alum, musician and computer pro-
grammer, is the founder and
President of AMG. Erlewine is very
familiar with the entertainment
business - having traveled in the
'60s across the country with his
band 'Prime Movers.'
In fact, Erlewine played next to Iggy
Pop, with the skinny rocker on drums
for his band. Erlewine even claims to
have given Pop his famous first name,
but didn't say what he was called
before Iggy.
Erlewine also hitchhiked with
Bob Dylan, and met numerous
a , . a g .

other artists who would go on to
have considerable impacts on the
music business.
"We are a group of people who love
music and who are trying to provide
consumers with useful information
about the business," Erlewine said.
"We want to help people find where the
good music is at."
Database expert Vladimir Bogdanov,
also a mathematician and statistician,
helped provide the means to making
AMG's information available.
Bogdanov and Erlewine created the
AMG databases together, and were
later joined by Chris Woodstra who
now serves as Data engineer and edi-
tor-in-chief. Currently, AMG boasts 50
on-site staff members, and more than
300 off-site free-lance writers. The Ann
Arbor headquarters consists of several
offices where editors and writers sit
glued to the screens of their computers
- evidence that AMG truly is not only
the work of the machine. The human
leg-work behind this project is extraor-
dinary.
The AMG site incorporates four
consumer guides: the All-Music
Guide (allmusic.com), the All-Movie
Guide (allmovie.com), the All-Game
Guide (allgame.com), and the All-
Book Guide (allbook.com). Chances
are, if there is a title or a musician, or
even an actor you are interested in,
you will find a vast array of data
awaiting you at any of these sites. In
visiting this site, you will become one

CHRIS CAMPERNEL/Daily
All Media Guide President and co-Creator Michael Erlewine has traded his days of rocking with techno sensation Iggy Pop for
the responsibilities of managing an entertainment internet search engine.

of the estimated 4.5 million who hit
this site each day. Probably the most
superior advantage of the information
age - no long lines.
The All-Music Guide is AMG's most
popular source. Searches can be made
by artist, album, song, style and label.
One can also explore a variety of musi-
cal genres, from rock, bluegrass and
country, to gospel, new-age and reg-
gae. Biographies are available on all
the artists, and related artists are sug-
gested in every piece. The articles are
always informative, providing various
links to bands and artists mentioned,
and the reviews are sophisticated, tak-
ing into consideration a diversity of
tastes. The ratings are not thought up
by only one person, they are the collab-

orative effort of a team of editors, each
on an expert in the specific genre or
music style. The Guide states that it is
the only music data provider to "cover
both current and historical music data,
everything from 10-inch LPs on." At its
office, AMG holds true to this claim,
with rooms full of music, not to men-
tion the finest quality stereo systems to
screen the material. -
The All-Movie Guide aims to cover
"everything that ever flicked across a
silver screen or glowed on a late-night
TV." And it does not disappoint.
Offering 140,000 titles, 95,031 plot
synopses and more than 100,000 rat-
ings for films, this site will bring out
the cinema buff in all of you. If you
wondering about anything from "The
Wizard of Oz" to "Shakespeare in
Love," a trip to this site will leave you
a bona fide Siskel or Ebert. The mater-
ial is written by AMG professional
film editors, or taken from various
publications from previous decades.
"We've got information on every
movie that was ever produced,"
Erlewine said.
Less popular, but by no means
less informative are the All-Game
and All-Book Guides. The All-
Game Guide includes instructions,

summaries, helpful hints, reviews,
and yes, even cheat codes to an
extensive collection of video-game
formats. The All-Book Guide is a
haven for anyone of the literary
persuasion, home to biographies,
summaries, bibliographies, time-
lines, and overviews of works span-
ning all genres, times, and coun-
tries.
If scanning this colossal database
leaves you yearning to make some sort
of contribution, or if you disagree with
an editor's opinion, take advantage of
the personal user input feature of
AMG.
"Sometimes the user will notice
something the expert wouldn't have
looked at;' said Erlewine. "We want to
incorporate this into our work."
The computer user who visits
AMG thus becomes an active par-
ticipant, rather that just yet another
viewer staring at a flashing screen.
As the guide says, "you can slice
and dice (the information) anyway
that best fits your use." AMG offers
an oasis of knowledge, and its visi-
tors will leave having had the
chance to encounter more than a
database: They will find faith in the
information age.

Nlo matter what your
place looks like - you
can find a subletter!

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