Interior Design

Pandora, or any form of Internet Radio, is typically seen as a technological advancement in the music industry. No longer are we chained to the voiceless listening of FM radio. We as listeners now have the ability to create our own stations and personalize them by skipping and “liking” certain songs. Technology has enabled us to stream the music we want, when we want, where we want.

The issue with this is the “technology” part. Is technology really the reason we listen to Pandora? We like Pandora because it plays similar songs based on the songs we already enjoy. When I create a Red Hot Chili Peppers Pandora station, I can hear all kinds of songs that are complementary to RHCP music that I am sure to like as well. My research has shown that technology is not responsible for this, though. People are. Pandora’s employees listen to every song that ends up on Pandora and breaks them down into nearly 400 different components. By identifying songs’ melody, lyrics, algorithms, and speed, Pandora’s employees can couple like songs based on these various factors. This is significant because the technology is really minimal; the only things that humans don’t do is play and skip the song while someone is listening. No one would assume that Internet Radio is so humanized!

I’ve formulated the thesis: Pandora is a form of technology, but it is not computerized.

Pandora is not computerized in that it is humanized. Humans have control over everything at Pandora. No song ends up on Pandora without it being heard by a Pandora employee; they are the ones to decide what music should be included on each station and why. Just because Pandora is not technological independent, though, does not mean it is not still a form of technology. We would not be able to access Pandora in a world without technology. Pandora also, like any other form of technology, has glitches and buffers. Pandora’s employees are not present when I hit the “thumbs down” button on a song and it finds another song to play: that is the technology. The technology is simply controlled by humans

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Project Prostectus

When we began our research process, I was looking for information to learn more about Pandora’s advertising methods and business model. I didn’t think there would be too much to inquire about in the music aspect of Pandora, so I figured I could compare Pandora’s way of doing things with traditional radio stations or maybe other Internet radio networks for my project.

It turns out, this stuff was really boring. Advertising and business is pretty cut and dry, and not really my thing. Out of curiosity, I changed my research towards the music side of Pandora and it got really interesting for me. From the second week of class, Licklider’s “Man-Computer Symbiosis” intrigued me and I wanted to apply this idea to Pandora and its listeners/employees. I finally learned about this symbiosis, or lack thereof, with my new research.

I’ve found a lot of sources explaining how Pandora creates its stations, picks music, and picks advertisements. Most of this is actually not technology! There are real people taking the time to hand-pick and formulate Pandora in its entirety. This is significant because this project started out as a ‘digital phenomenon.’ I came into this project thinking that Pandora is a complex technological gadget, and I wanted to figure out how it was formed or where it might go in the future. But, as I’ve stated in a lot of other blog posts, Pandora simply uses technology. This means that job loss in the future of the music industry is not an issue, or that technology will not take over the much-personal aspect of music. People are still a large aspect of our future even though it seems sometimes that technology is taking over everything.

This was all discovered when I started to look at the music side of Pandora, and that being said I want to continue searching for that. Overall I think my inquiry project is going in the direction of Pandora as a business: what the employees do, how their product reaches an audience, the thought process behind their efforts, and the significance of technology in the matter to relate back to the new media dreamers’ content on technology. I ultimately want to fully interpret everything going on behind the scenes at Pandora, and connect it to other students’ ideas with our shared readings.

Questing my Dream

It actually took me a long time to look through other students’ sales pitches and decide if I want to team up with others or not. Finally, I decided that my inquiry project would be much more substantive if I did.

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I want to team up with The KahnQuest¬†and his topic, Wikipedia. I Googled ‘Pandora advertising’ to see if there was already a Wikipedia page on the subject and surprisingly there is not. I thought it might be a cool idea to create one by the end of this project; I could assemble all of my research in the same way I’m going to for my inquiry project and create a page for others to research in the future. I also thought it would be interesting to treat his blog like a Wikipedia page, where other students and myself could edit the blog and see what happens. Another, maybe off-the-wall, idea would be to compare Wikipedia’s advertising methods to Pandora’s. They’re different websites entirely, but both remain successful mostly through advertisements.

I also want to join Caffeinated and research how technology will impact our future. She says, “I want to research how technology will impact our future, and whether or not the changes will be positive. This is important, because researching this may give us an idea of what kind of life we can expect to have in the future. I would also like to research the exact kinds of technologies that are being worked on right now so that we will get an even clearer idea.” I think Pandora is the exact type of technology she would like to research. Like her, I’m also curious of where Pandora could go and what impacts that this growing technology could have. As I’ve mentioned in many previous blog posts, I’m curious about the man-computer symbiosis present between Pandora and its listeners and I could really get into this subject with this student.

I’m hesitant to team up with Mirna, but I figured we could see where our collaboration went and could always decide to go separate ways if there’s not a huge connection. She wants to research social media websites in relation to spreading awareness of revolution and uprising. She listed Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube in her sales pitch, but I think Pandora could be a place to research as well. I can’t remember exactly, but I have a feeling that I’ve heard advertisements on Pandora about awareness for some sort of social injustice in the past. Since my inquiry topic in Pandora’s advertising, this might be a perfect fit.

Reporting my Dream

I love the Pandora app because it’s just like the radio, but you can actually skip through those stupid songs that are played too often. I have an unlimited amount of channels to go through, from 70’s rock & roll, pop songs of the 2000’s, or soothing sounds of nature. I can play it on my laptop and plug it up to my TV, or I can play it on my phone and play it in the car. Pandora gives me the flexibility of listening to the music I want without having to manually pick each song. Since I’ve gotten the app, I have deleted all other music apps. Pandora is so great it may even run radio stations out of business…

What will I dream?

Maybe I’m not very tech savvy, but out of all of the websites and tools on the Internet, I’m having difficulty finding something interesting enough to really explore and dream about. As I’m sitting at my kitchen table contemplating, I open my Pandora app and realize how perfect this app is for my inquiry project. Virtually anyone who enjoys music has Pandora on their phone or laptop.¬†Pandora offers thousands of channels to listen to music artists, bands, and comedians from any era or genre. As Pandora grows, imagine what else people could start listening to. We could skip through reports of newfound medical research, our favorite talk show conversations, cooking recipes, or even amazing stories from our soldiers in the war. The possibilities are endless.