If you are a fan of NPR (National Public Radio), as I am, you might like “Infinite Player”, an NPR streaming player that wants to establish a personal relationship with you and learn to guess the type of programming that you would like.
Clearly influenced by social music sharing sites like Pandora or Last.FM, “Infinite Player” employs a simple tools to get to learn what you like: a voting mechanism (thumbs up/thumbs down) and checkboxes that you could use to filter the content you want (news, arts&life, and music).“Infinite Player” will require that you log in, obviously, in order to store your information. and it will let you do so using any of your Gmail, Facebook or Twitter profiles.
I will admit that initially, I wasn’t really sure why this player is necessary. I know exactly what NPR programs I like and I already subscribe to their podcast. However, there is something really convenient about just turning on the Infinite Player and serendipitously listening to random programming, and knowing that I would probably like it (or at least hopefully eventually get to a point where I probably would like it).
However, when I tested Infinite Player, it seemed to suffer from frequent ‘technical difficulties’ that would make it stop working. At first I wasn’t sure if this was due to my not-to-stellar internet connection, or if it was due to the website itself, but some of the comments in the Infinite Player blog echoed my experience. In any case, a refresh of the page usually took care of the problem.
I also observed that all of the stories I was being served were mainly from the News programming and from NPR’s “Weekend Edition”, and I didn’t know if this was because I had thumbs-upped a number of these early on, or if there was a built in bias for this in the algorithm.
The verdict: I like this one very much. As an NPR fanatic, I really wish that Infinite Player is grown and developed further. As it is it is simple and accessible, but the geek in me wishes that it would become more advanced, with more sophisticated filtering options. Also, iOS and Android apps would be great; but for the time being I would settle for three things (1) less ‘technical difficulty’ incidents, (2) the ability to tell the player to only stream stories after a certain date, as I do not care to listen to political stories, say, that are 6 months old (and obsolete), and (3) the ability to save stories for later and/or share them with others via email or social sites.