“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,” Rachel Dodes reports for The New York Times.
“There is an unintended consequence of the allure of Shuffle: it is causing iPod users to question whether their devices ‘prefer’ certain types of music,” Dodes reports. “Revere Greist, a doctoral student and amateur bicycle racer in Los Angeles, has concluded that his iPod’s Shuffle command favors the rapper 50 Cent – and perhaps more important, that it knows exactly the right time to play 50 Cent’s biggest hit, ‘In Da Club.’ He finds the dramatic beat, coupled with the lyrics ‘Go Shorty, it’s your birthday,’ inspirational.”
“At the macslash.org discussion site, one posting said: ‘I’m pretty sure iTunes is not sorting my songs randomly. It seems to learn. I’d say it’s using some Bayesian logic and/or simple neural networks to vary probabilities of songs to be selected and adjust parameters of selection by the users history of song skipping.’ When confronted with such elaborate theories, Stan Ng, Apple Computer’s director of iPod product marketing, laughed. ‘The funny thing about it is that it really is random,’ he said. ‘When you turn on Shuffle Songs, it creates a randomized list of all the music on your iPod without repeating a song.’ According to Mr. Ng, there is no way that an iPod can be a ‘fan’ of a particular artist or band. Rather, he asserted, the anthropomorphizing of the iPod is ‘just another example of how much people love them,'” Dodes reports.
Full article here.