Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thing #23 MUSIC!!

Pandora is addictive.

I have my own radio station now, KPNK. The name sounds like it plays punk - couldn't be further from the truth. Pronounce it K-pink, it plays "pink" music. Old happy ballad-y club crooner songs from the 40s. Think Doris Day - she's a hit on KPNK! I'm liking my first station so much, I could hardly bring myself to explore others, but I also looked into "blue-grassy instrumental."

The feature where you give songs thumbs up and thumbs down harks back to my days working with the artificial intelligence folks AND makes me think about Nancy Pearl.

When you ask Pandora why it picked a song for your station, it lists out the elements that it thinks might be the features that you like about the song. This is similar to figuring out why a reader likes a book. There are elements of books that I like (good dialog, interesting settings, etc) that are more nuanced than just "Oh, I like books about World War II." Nancy Pearl has written about this kind of stuff brilliantly. So, the Pandora people have identified these kinds of traits for music. When I give the song a thumbs up or down, this is called "Machine Learning." I am teaching the machine to use the information I give it to pre-select with more accuracy the songs I am likely to enjoy.

So, now I have managed to get Doris Day, Nancy Pearl and artificial intelligence into a single blog post - I call that a good day's work!

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