Settings > Repeat > On

ipod-shuffle.jpgIn today’s excitingly fresh edition of the New York Times’ Circuits section, reporter Rachel Dodes has put together a charming little piece about iPods and the way in which they’ve begun changing music fans’ listening habits. In “Tunes, a Hard Drive and (Just Maybe) a Brain”, she presents a cute anecdote about a Columbia University grad student who threw a delightful dinner party while entertaining his guests with music played in a random order from his library of digitized music files, only to have the partiers erupt into laughter when the Shuffle-Button-as-DJ transitioned from Guns N’ Roses into Elton John, which was apparently quite embarrassing.

“Such are the perils of using Shuffle, a genre-defying option that has transformed the way people listen to their music in a digital age. The problem is, now that people are rigging up their iPods to stereos at home and in their cars, they may have to think twice about what they have casually added to their music library.
Shuffle commands have been around since the dawn of the CD player. But the sheer quantity of music on an MP3 player like the iPod – and in its desktop application, iTunes – has enabled the function to take on an entirely new sense of scale and scope. It also heightens the risk that a long-forgotten favorite song will pop up, for better or for worse, in mixed company.”

Well, it certainly hasn’t heightened the risk that a not-so-long-forgotten article from the Times’ family of newspapers might be repurposed by the parent company. Writing for the Boston Globe on April 7, 2004 – a whopping four months ago – writer Joseph P. Kahn entertained readers with his “iPod Shuffle revolutionizing listening habits”, which, you guessed it, discusses iPods and the ways in which they’ve begun to change music fans’ listening habits. Or, in his own words, since the “Circuits” section’s editors felt a literal transcription to be unnecessary,

“Even more wondrous than its sophisticated technology, though, is how the iPods and their ilk are changing the way music is being experienced, or reexperienced, by all sorts of audiophiles in all sorts of settings, from health clubs and school cafeterias to malls and subway cars.

When thousands of titles are transferred onto the machine’s hard drive and in rotation, users say, what happens on the listening end can be aesthetically stimulating, even liberating. This is not necessarily because the tracks are unfamiliar, but because the software’s shuffle-play capability juxtaposes them in intriguing ways, not only across an entire 5,000-track collection but within, say, a compilation of blues tunes or Broadway melodies, or even shuffling through only the tracks played in the past 90 days.”

For what it’s worth, we, too, are guilty of repurposing our own content, in the sense that we’ve already made light in the past of the Times’ short institutional memory.

One reply on “Settings > Repeat > On”

C’mon, aren’t we all adults now? When is it time to stop judging people by their musical tastes? Isn’t that, like, so high school?

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