Jeff Zittrain

Give a Gift, Save the World, Really

Picture a bright blue ball just spinnin’ spinnin’ free…

Thanks for all of the feedback on last month’s iPod article. Whether it’s of God or the Devil, a Frankenstein or an Orgasmatron, that little magic white box really seems to resonate with people.

In fact, the feedback was so good that I feel compelled to share some of it with you here:

In regards to my observation that the iPod has made me impatient, particularly with longer songs, one reader writes:

“Our attention decreases to…what? One second span. One second songs – try it; good luck.”
(I thought this was pretty funny as well as mind-blowing so I said I’d give it a shot and he replied back: “Too late, Milo and the Descendents did one called “Now”, forgot to mention…)

A different Milo considers the Orgasmatron…

In regards to how our impatience can keep us from investing in the longer album context on shuffle mode, another reader writes:

“I think it is a matter of on the one hand trying to understand what someone else is doing versus making what they are doing contour to you and how you are feeling. Getting to know someone else and what they are about takes time. Maybe this is also the failure of so many relationships. I see it happen a lot with people I know. They get into a relationship and then find it doesn’t quite fit their mood or adapt quickly enough. Maybe there is a parallel here. Relationships on shuffle.”

Relationships on shuffle? Relationships for download? Relationships with U2? Run, Logan!

Someone else made the comment, however, that shuffling songs has let him hear them in a new context, and has made his listening experience richer. This was of course the appeal of the shuffle mode for me as well.
And in response to my comment on how the ease of downloading songs might lessen our appreciation for them, he countered that “there has never been an innovation in how people get access to information without a Luddite saying it was better when you had to work hard to get your dinner.”

Both reasonable points, which brings me to the final reader email:

“As questionable as it may be, I’m still addicted to my iPod. In any case, it was great to read someone who has a conscience about it.”

Ah yes, both sides of the cookie…And this I suppose, is how I feel as well. I’m also certainly addicted to my iPod. I even bought a “road trip” so I can play it through my car stereo. As I said in last month’s column, there are some amazing benefits to the iPod, particularly in how it can wrest control away from monolithic commercial radio. But – to analyze and consider all the effects of our actions – what’s wrong with a little conscience?

I think we should be men (people) first and subjects (iPod listeners) afterwards – why else has every man (person) a conscience…?” (And rock on Gold Dust Woman”). (Parentheses – and everything in the parentheses – mine).

Famous Luddite Henry Thoreau in 1848’s Civil Disobedience

“I think we should be men (people) first and subjects (iPod listeners) afterwards – why else has every man (person) a conscience…?” declared famous Luddite Henry Thoreau in 1848’s “Civil Disobedience” (to which he then added “…and rock on Gold Dust Woman”). (Parentheses mine).

Speaking of conscience, as the Holiday season approaches, why not consider “right action” in your gift-giving? That is, as long as you’re spending money anyway, why not put at least some of that money to a good cause? Give a gift, feel good about yourself, and save the world – it’s a win/win/win!

In that spirit, here are a few suggestions:

Global Exchange:

Amnesty International:

Circle of Life:


And, being that this is a music magazine, if you’re going to buy a cd, you might want to check out United Sheep – (which I produced last year for a friend of mine) – a “brilliant, scathing, searing ‘Full Monty’ on American Politics” says Seattle’s “Greater Radio” – 20% of sales goes to the Backbone Campaign, a “grassroots effort to embolden citizens and elected officials to stand up for progressive values.”

Hey, it’s in my iPod – and the songs are short – so they sound great on shuffle…

AND it works as a full political song cycle thematic concept album – if you’ve got the time –

We record – you decide…

Until next time, happy holidays…