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The Perfect Thing

How The iPod Became The Defining Object of the 21st Century

Steven Levy

Many people fairly techno-illiterate. We we encounter a gadget that is easy to operate, we like it. When we encounter one that is easy and fun to operate, we are besotted. We 'get' the iPod, and 'getting it' makes us feel tech-ish.

Cheerfully plunder each other's playlists - no longer any status in owning some rare copy.

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Generations have defined themselves by their music preferences. Now you simply hand over yr iPod and other person scrolls through yr playlist to get an idea of yr tastes. Side effect of 'impression management' - people stack their playlists not just with songs they like, but songs others will approve of.

Apple projects deliberately given opaque names, after problem when an early project was called Sagan because it's chip set cd do millions of calcs. Carl Sagan took offence at what he considered commercialization of his name, and threatened to sue. So Apple changed name to BHA, and then let it leak that it stood for Butt Head Astronomer.

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Grumbling at the isolation of iPod uses - retreating into their own private world. Outsiders annoyed that yr not interacting with them, but user treasures protective envelope where don't have to deal with other people.

Apple had to tweak random shuffle algorithm because people didn't believe it was random. Had to make it less random by inserting a command to space out songs by any one artist. Users were perceiving patterns that weren't actually there. Confirmation bias - If you heard a Kinks song soon after another one you started paying attention, and if another one did come up, your brain wd assume a pattern - that yr iPod 'like' the Kinks. But those who understood randomness couldn't convince those who didn't. In end it was easier to stop arguing and just give them what they wanted.

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