Musical Search Engine

In class we’ve discussed how search engines choose which web pages to include first in a search. The key idea behind choosing the most relevant web pages is selecting the pages that have been linked to most often by other pages or hubs that are related to the topic a user is searching. The more times a web page has been linked to by other pages, the more authority it has. In many ways, websites like Pandora that select music to play based on a user’s preferences function in much the same way.

The article How Pandora Radio Works outlines the basic functions that Pandora uses. The user enters a song or artist that he or she likes, and Pandora chooses songs that have similar musical traits. The user can then choose to click thumbs-up or thumbs-down on the songs that play. Well-liked songs will lead to more music with similar musical attributes, and disliked songs will cut similar music from the Pandora playlist.

In a way, the like and dislike options on Pandora act in much the same way as links from hubs and other web pages online. When a user clicks like, he is creating another “link” to that type of music, which adds to the authority and legitimacy of that music type. This action in turn leads to more similar music, or more relevant results. Pandora is then able to choose music that the individual will like, just as search engines choose the pages that will give people the information that they most want.