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How the iPod Shuffles Commerce, Culture and Coolness

by Steven Levy

Pub Date: Oct. 23rd, 2006
ISBN: 0-7432-8522-0
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

A tech journalist pens a love letter to “a very special gizmo.”

Apple’s iPod is the greatest invention of our time; it will alter our lives forever. That is the book’s premise and, if you buy it, proceed to read this book-length rave. As hinted by the title, Levy (Crypto, 2001, etc.) has gone gaga for a device designed to play a lot of music. (In general, music like “rap,” “hip-hop” or “heavy metal,” rather than “string quartets.”) First sold to a grateful humanity in 2001 by a wise and benevolent Steve Jobs, the iPod is yet another thing bound to change civilization as we know it. It’s the coolest thing in the world, claims Levy. It’s a bit of a struggle to define “cool” but, like pornography, you will know it when you see it. “Just look at that little puppy. . . .” Its design is “universally celebrated, endlessly pleasing, devilishly functional, drop-dead gorgeous.” And it has no off switch. It can “shuffle” music randomly. Fan Levy finds that so inspiring that he invites readers to shuffle the chapters in which he reviews the history of the gadget, its cultural significance, the potential for social isolation, the sourcing and downloading of content and related hefty matters. Next for the iPod: shuffled text and video and, most likely, lots of podcasts (a major improvement over citizen band radio). The author has 3,999 songs, some podcasts and a couple of videos on his current iPod, and he has found many kindred enthusiasts sporting those iconic white earbuds.

An infomercial for a popular product.