Pandora and Blogging: Train the Trainer


One of my Pandora stations has become so well-groomed that it (almost) always plays a song that I enjoy, even songs that I haven’t heard before.  I’m reaching the point where I willing to toss out my hoard of mp3s and surrender to Pandora’s algorithm. 

I’ve also noticed that, every so often, the algorithm tries something a bit outside the range of the songs played to date. 

If I give that a “thumbs up,” I quickly see the results in subsequent songs, as the algorithm expands the range of genres played on my personal radio station.  

If I give that new song a “thumbs down,” Pandora stops and pauses.  

Then the Pandora plays one of the “seed” songs from the earliest days of starting the algorithm — a song that I truly can’t hear enough times — and so I get my dopamine hit and forgive the algorithm for its minor deviation.

Who is training who?    At first I thought I was doing a good job “training” my Pandora station to play “good” stuff… but with its targeting of my brain’s reward system as part of its cybernetic interface, I started to wonder about that.

In my early days of blogging I would write about random things like this — Internet memes, current events, cough drops — but more and more I find myself leaning into the convention of “blogging on a topic,” or taking what could be an off-topic post (e.g. “Pandora is cool”) and connecting it back to what I typically write about (“Pandora is a metaphor of the… blah blah blah”).  Ask any social media guru and they’ll tell you that to be a good blogger you have to make yourself synonymous with a particular area of expertise… because the vast Interwebs readership you’re trying to create wants to know where to go to have a particular conversation. They’re looking for an “authority.”

Really?  Do you want to have a relationship with someone who always talks about the same thing?    

Or maybe it’s okay, as long as it’s a variation on a recurring theme.

Thumbs up, Pandora.  Keep playing.

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About danspira

My blog is at: http://danspira.com. My face in real life appears at a higher resolution, although I do feel pixelated sometimes.

Posted on June 21, 2011, in Blogging, Career, Cool Companies, Learning, Metaphors, plants and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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