Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Book Review: iPod, therefore I am

I'm kind of ashamed to admit it... I don't have an iPod. Yet.

Trouble is, with all kinds of technology, you can only win by waiting. It'll only get better, or the price will come down. But still there's this unavoidable feeling of missing out...

The feeling doesn't get any better when I read iPod, Therefore I Am by Dylan Jones. But while the book says a lot about the little white box, it says even more about the iPod's effect on society, and in that respect it's a fascinating slice of life - what the world was like in 2005.

Sounds like a kind of frivolous subject, but this book actually knocked me off track from the other "current affairs" book I was reading, The End of Oil. (Maybe that makes me frivolous, I don't know?)

Jones uses his very personal experiences with music to paint a picture of music's impact in the 20th century. He's vulnerable enough to let us see his slightly obsessive behaviour when it comes to music. Either he's got very little to lose, or he knows many of his readers will feel the same way he does about their music collections.

This book will open your eyes to a huge change in the way we consume media in the 21st century. It's not just iPods, but the iPod has led the charge in a user-controlled media world. Now we can dissect the magic moments of our lives, examine and reflect on why they inspired us so much.

This is the era of the collector. Sure there were collectors before, but more than ever collectors have a sense of ownership. Even if the record companies disagree.

I can relate, even though I don't have an iPod. Over the past few months I bought several Star Trek movies that had appealed to me as a kid. Seen as glimpses on TV, these films left me with a feeling of sheer wonder. Just a feeling.

Now, 20 years later, I can do a frame-by-frame advance on the magical moments, identify the specific sections of music score that inspired me, and uncover all the special effects secrets with text commentary. If I can't find anything out on the DVD, there's always the internet.

Okay, so I'm talking about DVD and internet, not iPod, but if the current trend is anything to go by, such distinctions won't mean much in ten years.

Frivolous? I think not. You'll laugh as you read iPod, Therefore I Am, but you'll also reflect on the implications of a future that is already here.


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