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, 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 with just a cou­ple of clicks.

So while our TiVo may think1 that we’re rav­ing lunatics for slash­er films and 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. []
Categorized as Geek, Music

By Jason Coleman

Structural engineer and technical content manager Bentley Systems by day. Geeky father and husband all the rest of time.


  1. JC — (some­times I think how fun­ny it is that I might as well be address­ing “Jesus Christ” when I read and com­ment on your site!)

    I was just telling my mom how great I think your site is and how won­der­ful it is that “super-smart” peo­ple like you exist. You have such great infor­ma­tion on your site. I love all of the tech­ni­cal infor­ma­tion that you “pro­duce” on your site. I like see­ing it in action. I do not under­stand how it all works, but I real­ize that you spend a great deal of time research­ing the best of the best. For­tu­nate­ly for me, who resists research to the lev­el that I think would make me hap­py, you present the infor­ma­tion in a way that me — the lazy researcher — can access and understand.

    Per­haps as I evolve as the per­son I would like to be, I will be able to incor­po­rate the great tools and infor­ma­tion you share. 

    Right now, I am “try­ing again” to fig­ure out how to source myself — find a job — with­out feel­ing as if I am com­pro­mis­ing every­thing I think is impor­tant in my life — writ­ing. I am attempt­ing to be patient with all that is unresoved in my heart and learn to love the questions.

    When I have the mon­ey to write, I don’t.
    When I don’t have the mon­ey to write, it is all that con­sumes my thoughts.

    Eas­i­er writ­ten than lived for me.

    Edi­tor’s Note: see Sheila also at

  2. Sheila: Thanks. Sor­ry you’re post did­n’t show up auto­mat­i­cal­ly. Akismet thought it might be spam, although I don’t know why (you did­n’t men­tion pok­er or cheap via­gra…). Any­way, I just like to talk and write. It’s most­ly just to please my own ego, but I real­ly appre­ci­ate the comments.

    Stacey: Glad you liked it, too.

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