Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Ain’t No Luddite

I am not an adopter. I don't work to stay ahead of the technology curve. Rather, I fall quite far back in that curve to see all my friends and most of my family and acquaintances pass by me and my wife. But the truth is that I am quite happy and content being a follower. I keep my OS at least one version behind the latest and the greatest. Currently, even though my sparingly-used Windows machine runs XP (used only for music production since I have already invested money and learning-time on software that runs only on Windows), I have the latest OS version (Ubuntu Intrepid Ibex 8.10) on my primary home machine. I resisted having a cell phone for quite some time before finally jumping on the bandwagon in 2003. Even then I have pretty basic cell phone which is used as a - surprise! surprise! - phone to call people. No blackberry, no iPhone, no Android, no nothing. We don't have a LCD or Plasma TV, mostly because we don't need it. We don't watch TV or movies that much. 90% of time, our TV is playing either Baby Einstein DVD or PBS Kids show. Our DVD player is a $25 Coby. My home theater is a 8-year old system. My Bose Acoustimass speakers are sitting comfortably in the closet, gathering dust. Five-and-half-years since we have moved into this house, I didn't get energy, urge or serious nudge from Paramita to hook those on. On the social networking side, I have got onto Orkut after a having a dormant account for quite a while, thanks to Paramita for finally making me active there. But that's been almost one-and-half years. By that time most of my friends there have moved on to the greener pasture of Facebook. I have too. But only recently. And I am still trying to figure things out there. Now I see people are using Twitter. I guess, it will take me at least an year or two before I get on to Twitter.

The reason I started this post is, I think the best thing that have happened in last two years on the Technology side, as far as I am concerned, is Pandora. It's really awesome. Those who haven't yet found Pandora: it's a Music Genome Project. The site says:
Together we set out to capture the essence of music at the most fundamental level. We ended up assembling literally hundreds of musical attributes or "genes" into a very large Music Genome. Taken together these genes capture the unique and magical musical identity of a song - everything from melody, harmony and rhythm, to instrumentation, orchestration, arrangement, lyrics, and of course the rich world of singing and vocal harmony. It's not about what a band looks like, or what genre they supposedly belong to, or about who buys their records - it's about what each individual song sounds like.

So the idea is that you start with one of your favorite songs. Then based on the musical attributes of the song, Pandora will select other songs. For each song, you can tell Pandora whether you like this song or not, thereby 'training' Pandora to your taste. You can create 'Radio Stations' based upon this song. A 'Radio Station' can be created by Artist or by Genre too. There is a cool feature called Quick Mix, which is basically a random play of songs from Station you have selected.

It's really easier to experience and experimet with Pandora than explain how it works. You need a registration for creating Stations. But registration is free and require very little information. However, there is one caveat. The service is only for North American audience. I understand that is due to some licensing issue. If you are in North Americal (or have an North American IP address ... wink wink), go there and have some wonderful musical experience.