a pandora’s box you’ll want to open

28 05 2006

i just stumbled upon a web 2.0 application that’s been out there since it’s beta began the end of last summer.  pandora is a (juke)box that you should have no fear of opening.  pandora is the access interface to music genome project which is a fascinating project to identify the common threads that run through music regardless of genre.  check out the link for more on the music gnone project.

pandora is, on one level, a simple flash music player interface. but it’s oh so much more. first you get to create each station from the beginning. this is rather easy to do. you simply give pandora the name of an artist or a song. pandora looks up the characteristics of that artist or song and plays a song that matches your request in characteristics (see drawbacks below regarding playing of specific songs). from there, the genome project takes over. it offers you suggested songs from it’s database of over 400,000 songs that match your first selection in form and style. i was impressed by the consistency of the selections that pandora made as it added to new songs and artists to my initial requests to create stations. while some of the selections were predictable (en vogue and aaliyah appearing in my janet jackson station) others were real surprises and often all new artists to me (new order and gentlemen of leisure in my bananarama station).

you can further manipulate the type of music that pandora presents in a station by adding additional desired artists or songs to the station’s list. as songs are played, you can indicated whether you pandora.jpgfeel the song fit with the character of the station or not. pandora then adjust’s the station’s settings to match the new combined settings of your list. you can also add a song to your favorites list. the favorites list that you can create exists primarily as a shopping list of songs you can buy from itunes or amazon.

by clicking on the current track’s name, you can access information regarding the track, including a link to discographic information (usually allmusic.com).

a minor drawback is the inability to play a specific song. if you provide a suggested song to begin a station, pandora plays a similar song because their license which the genome project has with the music industry doesn’t allow for the playback of a designated song. your song will likely be played at some point in the station’s stream, but it’s random. for the same reason, you can’t repeat or play a song that has already been played. also, if you live outside of the united states, their service is "unavailable" due to varying licensing arrangements.  they do promise to offer international service as soon as possible.

all in all, pandora is a powerful tool for music fans. you might be asking why i blogged about it on eelearning. well for a couple of reasons. 1) the database-driven presentation of content based upon selections i the user have initially made is a powerful paradigm that i believe will begin to expand to all types of content, 2) as previously documented here, i believe we are in the midsts of radical revolution that will see the end of text based communication’s dominance. pandora gives us a glimpse of the power to be gained by building our literacy around the depth of communication to be found in audio content and 3) besides it’s my blog and i wanted to write about it. 😉


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