Tuesday, March 18, 2008

I have a new toy.

Okay, I understand that I'm an Old Guy. My cell phone doesn't have a camera, doesn't have a large keypad for texting, and doesn't have the capacity to be my mp3 player. (I do have a cell phone, though.)

So it's no surprise that I am only now discovering something that's been around for a few years: Pandora.com. It's, I don't know, an Internet radio station that you program yourself. Sort of. You create a "station" with the name of an artist (or album or song), and the site's artificial intelligence algorithms will pick similar songs and artists to play for you, and you can give feedback to your station with thumbs up/down buttons and it will use that information to refine its choice of music for you.

Plug in your headphones and you can listen to music, more or less of your own choice, without having to listen to commercials or hauling CDs around with you. And it's free.

At the moment, I've got three "stations" - you can have lots - one initially seeded with the group Cream (okay, I'm an Old Guy), which also plays the Byrds, Jefferson Airplane, the Who, the Beatles, and Eric Clapton (among many others), one initially seeded with The Beach Boys, which plays a lot of 50's and 60's doo-wop, and one seeded with Pete Seeger, which also plays the Weavers, Woody Guthrie, Arlo Guthrie, and Bob Dylan (again, among others).

I happily recommend it.

Here is my profile page, if you want to check out my stations.

Update (March 24): I guess it's not a surprise - Pandora.com is not the only self-programming internet radio station out there. I've come across another one - Jango.com - which I think I like even better. (I found out about it through a Washington Post article on social network internet radio stations, and you just know that if there's a term to describe them and a Post article on them, they've been around for a while.)

Jango has a different algorithm for picking songs: It keeps track of what songs you like, and then goes to its database of other users to find what people who like those songs like to listen to, and chooses one of those songs next. Kind of Google-like. It also seems to give you a bit more freedom to pick what you want to hear and how often.

Drop by my profile page here, too, if you'd like. My username is JediKt, and you can search fairly easily for me. I'm listening mostly to my Cream station.