I must be the only sofware engineer in the world who does not have their own personal mp3 collection. I love music, but I’m not terribly organized (anyone who knows me can confirm the typical state of my desktop, both real and virtual). Aside from having an historic aversion to sorting and organizing, I have a specific challenge with music. I don’t have a good memory for it. I can remember arcane technical detail from my software development experience of the early 1990’s; however, I can’t recall many of the bands I heard play at Lupo’s or the Living Room, let alone albums or song titles. It is hard to connect what I am in the mood for with an array of album covers or song titles.
Pandora lets me chose one song or artist and then it creates a perpetual play list of songs I might like, and most of the time it is right on target. The application grew out of the Music Genome Project which sought to “capture the essence of music at the most fundamental level,” and then proceeded to catalog their findings in what must be a gigantic database. Pandora makes this database available to me without searching. With only the barest of a suggestion from me, it has an idea of what I might like. Of course, as these folks know better than I, offering up a song or an artist is no small suggestion of my taste in music. A single song has a number of qualities that indicate what I’m into.
It is no random chance that I found Pandora, since they use OpenLaszlo as a development platform. It’s always nice when someone uses your tech to create something wonderful. It’s at the heart of why I write software. Seeing Pandora was particularly cool, since they really understand what we call the “cinemtatic user experience” or, as we say ’round the office, what it takes takes to make an application Laszlo-riffic. I don’t intend to take any credit away from the Pandora folks. While our platform enables beautiful design and makes it possible to build a fluid and intuitive interface, great design doesn’t happen automatically. Great design takes inspiration, insight, thoughtfulness, and most importantly, people who care about it.