What’s in Pandora’s Web 2.0 box?

Like many other music lovers who are also Web-heads, I’ve tried — and like — Pandora, the “collaborative filter” for music that was profiled in this past weekend’s New York Times, although I also quite like Last.fm, which some believe is a better service for finding new music. But the thing that struck me about the NYT piece on Pandora wasn’t anything about the service itself, or even the story really. It covered the usual info about how thousands of songs have been categorized according to their music “DNA.”

It’s quite a cool product (Cynthia Brumfield at IPDemocracy writes about it here and O’Reilly has more info here). But what really struck me was the picture that ran with it:

Two rows of people, crammed in fairly tightly, each sitting in front of a monitor and keyboard, with headphones on. Is it just me, or does this photo look a bit like a digital sweatshop? I know the lede of the story — all about cool bass player Seth Ford-Young (he’s played with Tom Waits!) and how he is one of the “New Tastemakers” — makes it sound as hip as anything, but to me it looks like a call center in Mumbai somewhere, except everyone is listening to music instead of providing tech support for Dell or whatever.

Don’t get me wrong, I think the service is great, and I’m sure listening to music is better than doing call-center work, but damn — is that Web 2.0? We need to get better collaborative filters, so those poor people can go outside.

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