I have to say I am stunned at just how much interest and coverage there has been regarding the iPod Shuffle shuffle incident that took place at OpenTech on Saturday July 23.
In less than two weeks the story really has found its way all around the world, thanks to the blogging community.
A quick scamper around Technorati reveals that pretty much everyone that was in the room has blogged about it in some form, and several have made the connection back to me, if my WordPress Incoming Links box is anything to go by. It is interesting to read some of the third party perceptions of what has happened. Many consist of extremely thought-provoking discussions of the pro’s and con’s of the iPod Shuffle shuffle experiment and plenty have made me chuckle, especially the couple that have pointed out that one person “walked back to their seat with a face like thunder”, and another blog which reported that “one guy was seen out in the lobby mid way through Ewan’s session exploding at one of the organisers about the Shuffle hack”. Yep – both bits refer to me – to say I was less than impressed would be the understatement of the year
My view of the experiment as-was remains unchanged – I think it was a bloody stupid idea and was totally irresponsible. However, this is not to say that we cannot learn something from the concept. The theory of experiencing the content and audio choices of other people, as stored on their MP3 players is a solid one, and one that remains very interesting. Nevertheless, a more sensible method would have been to mark everyone’s Shuffle going into the box, to allow for an orderly swap back afterwards, or better still, just encourage people to plug into the MP3 player of the person sitting next to them for a while.
A couple of the blogs I have read on this have suggested that we can learn much about the tastes and creative processes of others by listening to their music and audio choices.
My suggestion for how to achieve this goes something like this: The next time you are on a plane or a train (not a tube or a bus mind, if you do what I am about to suggest on a London tube or bus, you are likely to get stabbed or worse), ask the person sitting next to you if you can plug into their MP3 player for a while (carry a headphone socket doubler to make this easy), and offer them the opportunity to do likewise. Alternatively, in the case of a long flight where you and the person next to you are trapped on the same plane, invite them to swap players with you for a while. In that environment, you can be sure you will get your own one back at the end of the day, hopefully without the need for a row with your fellow passenger.