Andrey Spektor


A sixty year-old man is delighted when his son shows him how to use Pandora—an interactive, hip Internet radio site that puts the listener in control. Having grown up a huge Louis Armstrong fan, the man quickly selects the jazz singer as one of his “stations.” When listening to this station, Pandora will only play songs by Armstrong and other similar artists for him. When he hears Armstrong’s classic, “What a Wonderful World,” the man immediately clicks the “Thumbs Up” icon, indicating his approval of Pandora’s recommendation. Pandora’s recommendations are drawn from its “Music Genome Project,” a database of song attributes that has been compiled by an army of professional musicologists. Pandora’s musicologist have analyzed and identified the attributes of “What a Wonderful World” and use this knowledge to recommend other songs for a listener. In addition, Pandora further tailors its recommendations based on the choices other listeners have made. In the end, the man’s refined playlist contains a variety of artists, from jazz standards like Peggy Lee to new jazz artists, like Betty Carter. Pandora is extremely interactive, but it does not allow the man to download or skip through too many songs.