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Pandora adds comedy. Where will it go next?

Molly Wood May 5, 2011
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Pandora adds comedy. Where will it go next?

Molly Wood May 5, 2011
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Some 10,000 stand up comedy routines are now offered on Pandora’s website and various apps. You can hear everyone from Andy Griffith and Bob Newhart up to Patton Oswalt and Aziz Ansari. The tracks are treated in the same way Pandora treats music: they’re parsed to determine what elements have gone into forming the comedy. Then when you choose to, say, make a Maria Bamford “channel,” it will bring you comedians who seem to have something in common with Bamford’s style.

We talk with Los Angeles-based comic Rob Delaney about the new service. As a professional in the business as well as a student of comedy, Rob found a lot to like about what Pandora was doing. He said he found some new comics he liked as well as some that he didn’t. At the end of the day, said Rob, Pandora is still a robot. He thinks he’s more likely to listen to the recommendations of a person he knows and trusts over whatever Pandora has to say.

That’s a predictable point of view, according to John Riedl from the University of Minnesota’s Department of Computer Science. Riedl helped build one of the first recommendation engines way back in the old days of the Internet. It was on Usenet. He says that even if Pandora has 100 dimensions to assess a song or comedy bit, the human mind has infinitely more. So he doesn’t think Pandora can ever be perfect.

Nonetheless, Riedl sees the addition of comedy as a potential trend. He envisions Pandora-like services offering personalized movies, TV, and news.

Also in this program, the completely bananas innovation of a tongue-kissing Internet robot.

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