Whenever you stick a CD into your computer, the track names, running times and all sorts of other data appears in your player. This information is NOT stored on the disc itself. If your computer is connected to the Internet–and really, that’s just about every machine now, innit?–it sends a query to a giant database maintained by a company called Gracenote.
By comparing the number of tracks and the total running time of the disc with music in Gracenote’s libary, your computer is able to almost instantly populate all those fields without you doing a thing. It doesn’t always work 100%–some discs aren’t in the database or, occassionaly, wrong answers are returned–but it still feels like magic 99% of the time.
Ty Roberts is a co-founder of Gracenote. Check out this interview conducted at SFMusic Tech earlier this year. (Via Peter and TechCrunch)