My Pandora Thinks I’m… Okay, It Just Thinks

I just this evening dis­cov­ered prob­a­bly the only online stream­ing web site for music I’ve ever want­ed to lis­ten to. That’s because I actu­al­ly get to dic­tate what gets played on this sta­tion. I real­ly quit lis­ten­ing to radio a few years ago and buy­ing an iPod real­ly sealed that cof­fin. As much as I hate to admit, I real­ly don’t even lis­ten to pub­lic radio any­more, even though Rich­mond has a great pub­lic radio/TV sta­tion. We even have a decent indy sta­tion, but I just don’t lis­ten.

You see, my prob­lem is that while I real­ly want to dis­cov­er new music, I want to have some con­trol on what direc­tion that takes. Sounds like a con­flict, does­n’t it? Well, not so much. I’m just par­tic­u­lar about what I want and while oth­er peo­ple who know me can make ter­rif­ic rec­om­men­da­tions, most DJ’s and the like have no idea what I’m going to like.

So, for the past few years, I’ve used Amazon.com, iTunes Music Store, and Meta­crit­ic to track down new music when no one I knew and who in turn, knew my tastes, was mak­ing rec­om­men­da­tions for me. They’ve worked well, but I still felt like I was only just lis­ten­ing down the same path I’d been on for quite a while. Well, this evening I was lis­ten­ing to Inside The Net No. 6 inter­view­ing Tim West­er­gren, the founder of Pan­do­ra and The Music Genome Project. I won’t go into all the gory details of Pan­do­ra’s rec­om­men­da­tion engine (which is The Music Genome Project), but suf­fice to say, it is the most advanced I’m aware of. Bet­ter yet, it is as sim­ple as nam­ing your favorite song or artist or just as com­pli­cat­ed and in depth as you wish to make it. Even bet­ter still, it is com­plete­ly free. Not only is there no charge, it is inter­con­nect­ed such that I can be at iTMS or Amazon.com with just a cou­ple of clicks.

So while our TiVo may think1 that we’re rav­ing lunatics for slash­er films and Amazon.com thinks I wish to pur­chase every build­ing code ever writ­ten, Pan­do­ra is real­ly point­ing in the right direc­tion. Time will tell how use­ful it is, but so far I’m very impressed.

  1. This and my title are in ref­er­ence to a well-known Wall Street Jour­nal (sub­scrip­tion required) arti­cle titled “Oh No!, My TiVo Thinks I’m Gay“by Jef­frey Zaslow. The arti­cle real­ly cap­tured what so many peo­ple were notic­ing about rec­om­men­da­tion engines and led to some refine­ment in TiVo’s sys­tem. How­ev­er, our TiVo still has a long way to go. []

‘Ol Blue Eyes

Last week, while on a job site inspec­tion some build­ing foun­da­tions1, I had what must be the strangest con­ver­sa­tion with a con­trac­tor yet:

Con­trac­tor (to me): Yeah, so we’ll just have the addi­tion­al bars deliv­ered in the morn­ing rather than attempt use some replace­ments… say, is that your nat­ur­al eye col­or or do wear some sort of con­tacts?

Well, uh, I do wear con­tacts, but this is my nat­ur­al eye col­or. I sup­pose I get that a lot, though.

Con­trac­tor (to soils guy): Seri­ous­ly, take a look at this guys eyes. Isn’t that the wildest eye col­or you’ve ever seen?

At this point, I have lit­tle choice but to stare at the soils guy right in the eye like a crazed per­son.

Soils guy: Huh. I think my baby will have sim­i­lar eyes, since my wife is white and has green eyes. (He’s olive skinned and obvi­ous­ly for­eign-born, per­haps Greek or Turk­ish).

Con­trac­tor: Well, they’re real­ly wild look­ing, any­way, man. Talk to you next week.

I have a brief con­ver­sa­tion with the soils guy before walk­ing to my car sim­ply shak­ing my head. It’s not every­day I have a burly con­struc­tion super­in­ten­dent com­ment on my eye col­or.

  1. Foun­da­tions which may or may not, Kevin, have a box of voodoo mag­ic under­neath them. []