Sunday, August 23, 2009

my genome project

do you use pandora radio? hard to believe that you can capture the essence of music at the fundamental level using a list of 400 attributes and mathematical algorithms. (when i was a young girl, we listened to music the good "old-fashioned" way: on a turntable, song by song, entire albums at a time) (i know! can you imagine? how archane!) (i also believed that there was a little man in the record player who was responsible for moving the needle across the vinyl grooves.)

but, back to pandora. in laymens terms: each song that plays gives me the option to "like" or "dislike" it. the little man in my computer then analyzes the attributes of the songs i "like" and suggests songs that are similar (likewise, he does not suggest songs with attributes of the songs i "dislike.")

netflix does something similar. each time i log on, i have a chance to preview movies that have been suggested to me based on the movies i have put on my queue.

you can have your personlized blend of coffee created by gevalia, based on your favorite chocolate or preferred steak done-ness.

iTunes offers you a Genius feature, ensuring that you create the ultimate playlist based on tunes you absolutely will love.

i believe this is also how works (although i did not personally rely on the little man in my computer for help with that one...)

what i'm getting at is this genome project idea. this idea that you can fine tune your (song list/movie queue/beverage) life by tweaking and tweaking, eventually working your way towards perfection? comfort? tolerance?

i don't remember what i wanted to "be" when i was growing up, although i'm sure it vacillated between "writer" and "teacher" (my mom has me pegged to be a minister. we'll see how that pans out...) speaking of which, i'm pretty sure "mother" was in the mix somewhere. heading to college without a clear idea of what i wanted to "be" left many doors wide open for me. french? 'like,' but not enough... intro to psychology? 'like'... research methods? 'DISlike'... sociology of responsibility? 'like'... and so on.

and then graduation. the "what next?" and, guess what? i 'liked' my B.A., but had no interest in getting my Masters in Social Work. certainly i could find a job, and i did. i found several. a succession of paycheck-earning positions that i could tolerate. pre-school teacher? 'dislike'... pool and tennis club director? 'like, but not too much'... gift ware and porcelain doll importer? 'liked' the travel and wholesale discounts, HATED the job...

and what of my social life? girlfriends? 'inherently dislike' (i'm sorry, i'm sorry... it took me a long time to get comfortable with girl friendships!) that guy? 'like'... THAT guy? definitely 'dislike'... those older people in church choir with whom i sit every thursday night and practice harmonies? 'like,' although we probably don't have much in common outside of our choir robes.

do you see where i'm going with this? after almost 40 years, i have 'liked' and 'disliked' my way to this place. this career. this family. i have naturally gravitated to the places where i am most comfortable. and most of the time, i have felt i was on the right track.

i eventually grew to know that there was no little man running the turntable. and i'm pretty sure there's no little man in my computer. but there is friendship and faith and good graphic design and well-written fiction; there are decisions to be made about birthday parties and vacations and hairstyles and hybrids; there are people still to know, and people whom i'd like to forget; there are choices to be made.

and i 'like' that...


Kelly said...

I've never thought about life like that, but I definitely like it! This was a good read!

Rhonda said...

You are such a good writer. I love the analogy. I "like" your blog and have fine tuned-linked it straight into my sidebar.

Vinyl records, AM/FM, cassette tapes, and waiting for the phone to ring. The phone that was mounted on the kitchen wall. How did we survive w/o cell phones and texting, and the instant gratification of email?

As you said there are people still to know and people whom you would like to forget.... some things are best left in the past as we welcome new and innovative changes.

rebekah said...

This is a great post! I remember leaving college and thinking that there was something wrong because I didn't have one specific profession in mind that I thought I would absolutely love. I think more often we find out what we dislike, and that whittles the list down for us, as opposed to heading straight for one thing that we know we will love.

lailani said...

Great post! I really enjoyed it - so true!

Marie said...

Ooo, I LIKE this post. I LIKE blogging. I DISLIKE that my computer is slow today.

Crystal said...

I really 'liked' this post. It was a great way to put things.

We all to often don't stop to think and analyze things like that and I'm glad you found a way to put it in words.

michelle said...

I love this post! Especially your last paragraph. So real, yet so hopeful.

Kim Sue said...

this is why I would NEVER want to be a teenager again...I had not had enough likes/dislikes under my belt to really KNOW what I wanted

Jill said...

I used to listen to entire albums too, and that seems crazy to me now!

The interesting thing to me about all of these opportunities for the the little man to decide for me is that he is so often wrong! I haven't used Pandora lately, but when I did I used to be surprised by how often I didn't like the music being suggested even though it was being based off of something I liked.

Pretty much I think we're all a tad too complex to fit into all these algorhythms, and that's comforting to me.