I first read about Dewey last week at Boing Boing. Boinger Dean Putney has create a project that makes it much easier to find and listen to the huge archive of freely-available music on Dewey — over 1.1 million tracks by over 10,000 artists!
Dewey is available at http://deweymusic.org/. From the front page you can get the pick of the day, or you can look at the top-rated, most-played, or newest tracks. But if you’d rather, you can browse genres or do a keyword search. I found the genres list way too unwieldy — one of the genres, I promise you, was “a campfire and a tent and a flashlight and some matches and a tree and that river and my glasses and a spaceship and a really really big bear but the bear is really really far away” — but the keyword search works really well.
I did a search for ragtime and got a results page divided into several sections. There’s a list of artists (in this case none) albums, and songs. At the bottom is a list of venues, but this isn’t for venue information, it’s for performances that were recorded in that particular venue. The result list also includes the number of “thumbs up” for songs.
And here’s the really cool thing — you can use the icons next to each song or album to either play it immediately or add it to a playlist. (Looking at albums full of songs gives you an addition icon option to download each track.) The playlist shows up on the upper-left part of the page. If you’re trying to make a playlist of a certain length, you’ll have to do some guessing — track length is not always available even for album listings. But if you just want some music, pop in some music and albums and away you go.
Both search and playback were fast and terrifically easy to use. I didn’t see a RSS feed for search results, which would be fantastic, and track length would be a great thing to have for all the songs. But I’m quibbling — Dewey makes the million+ tracks in the Internet Archive SO MUCH EASIER to find and use! I wonder if anyone would do something like this for the feature films section of the IA, or maybe the Prelinger Archives?