Fortune: ‘amazingly small and light iPod shuffle’ has power to change our daily lives

“We’re living in a device-centric age. Technology may not yet fully define us, but it increasingly defines how we behave and spend our time. In New York City, I notice that subway riders are quieter than they once were. More and more, I see little white earphone wires emerging from their hats and hair–the telltale sign that they’re listening to iPods. Sometimes I’d estimate that as many as 25% of all the commuters either in the cars or on the platforms are listening to music, an audio book, or a Podcast. And in the Tokyo subway, I’m told, silence descends when the doors close. Almost all the commuters in that city pull out cellphones or other electronic devices and peck at their miniature keyboards, sending messages or playing games,” David Kirkpatrick writes for Fortune.

“While I’ve had my share of techno devices and toys (including an original iPod), it wasn’t until someone gave me an iPod shuffle last week that I fully joined the new digitized masses. It’s giving me new insight into how technology is changing our daily lives. What’s different about the shuffle is that it’s amazingly small and light. The player, which Apple describes as ‘about the size of a pack of gum,’ hangs from a little cord around your neck. Everywhere I go people stop me to ask what it is. And once I tell them that it’s a music player, they marvel at its diminutive size,” Kirkpatrick writes.

“With the iPod shuffle, it’s infinitely easier for me to live in a world of music. In the first five days that I’ve owned it, I’ve listened to about three times as much total music as I would have otherwise. I find that I take it off only when my eardrums start to ring. But most of the time, I barely realize that I’m using the shuffle,” Kirkpatrick writes. “This is something the music industry seems not to have fully appreciated: We can now simply listen to more music. That’s why downloading music has got to be an unalloyed good for the industry. The music companies probably have to figure out different pricing models, but there’s no question in my mind that the industry’s opportunities are growing, not diminishing, as people have easier access to music and listen to it more often. But this raises another question for me: Why do I, and so many others, want to cocoon ourselves off into our little music bubbles, even when we’re out and about?”

Full article here.

Related MacDailyNews articles:
Microsoft offers six tips for not buying an Apple iPod shuffle – March 22, 2005
The iPod is bigger than Jesus, now can Apple’s Mac take on Windows? – January 31, 2005


  1. ” Why do I, and so many others, want to cocoon ourselves off into our little music bubbles, even when we’re out and about?”

    A good question. I recommend reading E. M. Forster’s The Machine Stops for a provocative reflection upon the dehumanizing potential of technology.

  2. I think people are using their iPods as an escape and stress reducer from life. I know, for me, after a day of sitting in the office, my bike ride home listening to my iPod is almost therapeautic. Sure, we listen to music in the office, but there’s something different about having those headphones in and being in your own little music bubble.
    We deal with other people all the time… so it’s nice to just put in those ear buds and tune out the rest of the world every now and then.
    Personally, I’d be lost without my iPod after using one for the past 6 months….

  3. This left the creatures free to serve higher purposes. But whenever they found a higher purpose, the purpose still wasn’t high enough.

    So machines were made to serve higher purposes, too.

    And the machines did everything so expertly that they were finally given the job of finding out what the highest purpose of the creatures humans could be.

    The machines reported in all honesty that the creatures couldn’t really be said to have any purpose at all.

    The creatures thereupon began slaying each other … And they discovered that they weren’t even very good at slaying. So they turned that job over to the machines, too. And the machines finished up the job in less time than it takes to say, “Tralfamadore.”

    –Kurt Vonnegut. The Sirens of Titan. New York: Dell, 1959, pp. 274–75

  4. Or cocoon yourself in the newspaper, or a book?

    Let’s not kid ourselves that we all want to chat with strangers sitting next to us on the train. We want peace and quiet – and to listen to our choice of music. The rest of the day is for interacting..

  5. Wow, first the iPod was the entry drug to the Macintosh Experience and now we have the shuffle – the entry drug to the entry drug.

    A device so cheap you can get or give one as a gift and not have it be a really big deal – until you get hooked on Apple products that is.

  6. BTW, his comment on Tokyo subways, while accurate, does not really have much to do with electronic gadgets. Tokyo subways have always been quiet, it is a cultural thing.

  7. Music is food for the soul. iPods in all their forms give you an unlimited menu.

    There is no big mystery. The transistor radio did the same thing. The Walkman did too. Convenience folks.

    People buy them to listen to music, not to shut out the world or to create a cocoon. It is now convenient to feed your soul.

  8. I have an iPod mini WITH A SCREEN LOL!. Not having a screen is great for beginners and kids though, and its a great cheap way for kids to get hooked on the real iPods

  9. Why cocoon ourselves?? Why because the outside world is so depressing that it’s nearly impossible to take in anymore. After the last election, I have simply stopped listening to radio or news. Now I just stick my head in the sand of my iPod….. Sad, but true.

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