Interpreting Pandora

By Mark Skoultchi

November 9, 2007

Pandor_Image.jpgI’ve been experimenting with Pandora lately, that increasingly popular music matching website otherwise known as the “music genome project”. Pretty cool stuff actually. So far, fairly accurate. It hasn’t once suggested I’d like The Who (sorry sorry – inside joke).

Most people have some idea of who Pandora was, or at least they know something about a box (actually a jar). Size, shape, material unimportant. You just don’t want to open the box. Don’t open that box. Bad inside the box. World of hurt inside the box, all that. I imagine a goodly number people don’t know the whole story, what was inside the box, why opening it would be naughty, etc. Probably doesn’t matter that much. At least in terms of brand names, common understandings and associations with words and ideas are usually more important than complete but lesser-known story details anyway. So I’m not gonna point out all the story DNA the genome project seems to have overlooked. I’m just gonna commend them on having taken the time to explain their interpretation and use of the name. Man, I love it when companies do that.

According to The Music Genome Project:

The name Pandora means “all gifted” in Greek. In ancient Greek mythology, Pandora received many gifts from the Gods, including the gift of music, from Apollo. She was also, as we all know, insatiably curious.
Unlike those Gods of old, however, we celebrate that virtue and have made it our mission to reward the musically curious among us with a never-ending experience of music discovery.
It’s also important to note that at the bottom of Pandora’s box was Hope…

So I don’t think the closing emphasis on that remaining virtue was really necessary, but otherwise I like the interpretation. Sounds like Pandora was really just an amazingly gifted if slightly nosy little girl, not a mankind killer at all (whoops! Sorry).

PS: Note to Pandora. There seems to be some question in the literature about the meaning of the name “Pandora”. One interpretation is that the name means “all-gifted”, but another suggests it means “all-giving” – perhaps an even better interpretation for your brand??

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