Once upon a time, I played a little Orisinal game that would, for lack of a better term, temporarily rewire my brain. I’d play it for a while, but when I was done, I found that I couldn’t use a computer. I’d see a pattern on a webpage and try to circle it. I’d talk to someone and be really distracted by their eyes and how I could circle them. And then someone else would walk by and I’d want to circle the two people side-by-side. Eventually the compulsion subsided, until I played the game again.
Pandora has really done the same for me in life. (For the uninitated, Pandora streams music, and allows you to thumbs-up or thumbs-down songs. It learns your preferences and plays music to suit. My Daft Punk-based station became absurdly good, to the point that I started a second Tumblr blog just to reference the awesome songs I was finding through it.)
I have recently found, with great disappointment, that Pandora currently cannot improve the following areas of my life:
- Broadcast radio. Sometimes there are great songs on the radio. Usually there aren’t. Worse, even after identifying certain songs as terrible (by shouting at the radio), it continues to play them again.
- The news. Thumbs-up to a lot of interesting stories. Thumbs-down to more news articles about Donald Trump.
- TV episodes. The episode of Modern Family from a couple weeks ago was absolutely hilarious, and I really want to communicate to the producers that I liked it, and to Hulu that I want to see more episodes like that. On the other hand, after watching the episode of The Office from a couple week ago, I’d really like that portion of my life back. I want the producers to know that I thought the episode was a disappointment, and want Hulu to know that I’m not a fan of similar episodes. (Maybe this should apply to TV in general. It’s no accident that I don’t have cable, and just watch Netflix and Hulu.)
- The cafeteria at work. Sometimes it has good food. Sometimes it has great food. Other times, it doesn’t suit my fancy. Steak-and-cheese sub? Thumbs-up, more like this! Meatloaf? Thumbs-down, please don’t serve again.
- Email threads. Some mailing lists enjoy beating a dead horse about a topic that didn’t interest me in the first place, and I’d like to preemptively nuke the continuing thread from my mail client. Other times, I want emails like thumbs-up’ed emails to be prioritized in my inbox. (Gmail’s Priority Inbox rocks for the latter.)
Incidentally, there are several awesome business ideas in here. “Pandora for the News” in particular.