Imagine a radio station that could predict what kind of songs that you like and only play those songs. As the music plays, you can customize it further by voting for or against particular songs.
But of course, my hipster friends, you all ready know that such a station exists; it’s called Pandora. You know, as well, that the idea behind Pandora is to imagine each song can be broken down into its own DNA structure. They achieve this by listening to thousands of songs and breaking them down into specific pieces. For example, Pandora indicates that I like songs that feature folk influences, major key tonality, prominent organ, acoustic and rhythm guitars. (Wait, maybe I should add some Le Tigre to de-emphasize the folk aspect. Just a minute.)
It knows this because I told it four or five bands that I like and created a playlist for me. Correction, it is constantly creating a playlist for me, perfecting and selecting for my listening pleasure.
Pandora is not for people who want to listen to the same five bands over and over (and over and over) again. It is for people who use Myspace as a way listen to the newest bands or download streaming audio of their favorite D.J.s.
Speaking of Myspace, remember when no one used it because we were all on Friendster? Personally, I switched over to Mspace because of the ability to customize the music on my profile. Friendster has, in a stroke (the Strokes are a good band, hold on while I add them to my Pandora list ) of brilliance, decided to partner up with Pandora to create customized radio stations. So if you have a Friendster account and you haven’t logged in for a while that would be an easy way to check out Pandora, if you haven’t all ready.
The interface is not perfect. It is hard move forward and backwards in your playlist. There’s no way to post your list on a blog (this may be of questionable legality, anyway, but people are doing it as is). You can’t give incremental or weighted rankings, only yes/no votes. Yet it is intuitively easy to use. As long as they have that, and the program works its magic, they will work out the kinks (oh! I like the Kinks! Just let me add them to my Pandora list and I’ll be right back). And the beauty part is that it does work.
Part of what people seem to get sucked into with the new technologies are the various abilities to customize their experience. Now we have a product that you can spend time tinkering with or just leave it alone and it will perfect it for you. That’s pretty damn special. I’m putting my money on this as the next big net phenomenon. Or I would be, if I weren’t spending so much time playing with it.