Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Pandora’s Box, indeed

This blog may sound like an advertisement for the online radio website called “Pandora.” It really isn’t. They aren’t paying me a dime, but I wouldn’t mind if they did! However, it is a blog about musical preferences and why people like what they like.

If you’ve not heard of Pandora online radio, I’m actually surprised. It’s becoming more well known, and I’ve even seen car commercials that state one of the features on the vehicle is Pandora.

What makes Pandora unique is that it is a mixture of radio and your own personal playlist. When you get started, you type in the name of a musical group or song or genre. Pandora randomly picks a song based on what you chose.

And now for the fun part: you, the user, can give it a thumbs up or thumbs down. If you give it a thumbs up, the song will go onto a list that Pandora will play again for you at some point in time. Thumbs down? It won’t play that song again. Pandora will then select a song for you similar to the one you liked, based on something like 400 different attributes. The more songs you like or dislike, the more Pandora narrows down your musical taste.

Pretty cool, huh?

I’ve been listening to Pandora for years. It started in July, 2005, so it’s not all that new. I’ve been introduced to songs and artists I’d never heard of, but end up liking. Even more strange is that there are songs from certain artists that I love, and some songs from the same artists that I can’t stand. Can I explain it? Not really. It’s just that I connect with some songs more than others.

Most of my playlist is from the 80’s, though I have songs from the 70’s, 90’s, and heck, some from the 60’s. I’m sure if a human were to analyze my likes and dislikes, they would scratch their head. I’m sure some of the songs I’ve liked share the exact same attributes as some I’ve given a thumbs down to.

I’m actually a bit afraid to analyze deeper into why I like what I like. How does my taste in music relate to my other personality characteristics? Is there some sort of trauma from my life that makes me hate certain songs? If I define what features in music I’m drawn to, will I feel obligated to like music with the same features?

Pandora’s box, indeed.

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