The digital product team over at NPR is always busy tinkering away and creating new ways for people to consume the news organization’s rich library of content. Their latest innovation, called the Infinite Player, is a stripped-down, browser-based tool for listening to NPR content in a serendipitous, yet personalized fashion.
If the player’s interface reminds you of Pandora, it’s no accident. The team deliberately borrowed from personalized media services like Pandora, Flipboard and Zite when building out the Infinite Player. Its controls are sparse, containing only a few buttons. Among them are a pair of icons for voting stories up and down, much as one would on Pandora. In time, the player learns what you’re interested in and plays back content accordingly.
The Infinite Player gets its name from the fact that it plays content endlessly, or at least until the user tells it to stop. In that sense, it’s sort of like a real radio station. The modern twist comes in its ability to deliver audio content based on the listener’s preferences.
This experience provides more of an opportunity forr what the NPR team calls “distracted listening” – that is, consuming content while doing other things and not necessarily having to make any decisions about it (aside from voting it up or down, if you’re so inclined). This is in contrast to the type of “engaged listening” experience that podcasts and audio clips offer.