The last several weeks I’ve been checking out Pandora, the “Internet Radio” site that lets you build custom stations of music based on your personal preferences (and provides a live stream of said music). You can give it artists or genres to choose from, and from there—and based on what you tell it you like and dislike in real time, as the music plays—it figures out other music to play for you.

So far it’s remarkably good. It’s like magic.

(Yes, I am well aware that by writing about Pandora now, in 2011, I’ve missed out on something like four or five years of its existence. One might say I missed the boat, and am now late to the show. I’m all right with that.)

Now, I’m not a big music guy—most of the time I listen to whatever’s on the radio in the car while driving to or from work, and I’ll play the occasional CD (I do own a few). I like music, it’s just more of a background to my life, and I don’t invest a lot of time into it. But with Pandora, it tweaks just the right buttons—I’m as interested in the algorithm behind what it will pick for me next as in the music itself. So I’ve been letting it play in the background at work and generally marveling at it.

I’ve only created one station thus far, but since it lets you create different stations I’m fascinated by the potential for creating other, vastly different ones based on mood (for instance).

It’s kind of cliché to say, but this is one of those internet technologies that just works, works well, and makes me feel like I’m living in the future.