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iPod, you pod, Everybody pod
[December 09, 2005]

iPod, you pod, Everybody pod

(Philippine Daily Inquirer)IM NOT INTO BANDWAGonesque behavior. Neither am I easily duped. But this time, I just couldnt help it. The glassy eyes, the blissful and somewhat goofy expression, the telltale white earbudsthey all point to one thing. Im now the proud owner of a lean, mean, music machine, the iPod nano. Please feel free to call me a zombie. What? I cant hear you.

Given my luck with digital doodads, I couldnt help but feel burned. Like most of you, I started out with a DiscMan. I was 13 and I took it everywhere I wentmy schools courtyard for lunch, cram sessions at a pals house, carpool rides to and from wherever. But after dropping it one too many times, I traded it up for a MiniDisc player/recorder a few years later. That honeymoon didnt last very long, however, since some creep copped my then-magical mechanism while I was trekking around the Egyptian-Israeli border. And to prove that somehow, I am really the Bermuda Triangle of gadgets, hows this: Ive dropped a PalmPilot in a pool, lost a digital camera during a yoga session and misplaced several cell phones, all in rapid succession.

But back to portable music players. The week before winter break 02-03, I was speeding down the halls of my university in Canada when this thing called an iPod blindsided me. Since Ive learned never to trust any first-generation invention, I had to turn away and leave iPod-less, even if doing so meant breaking the brick known as my heart. Some sympathy, please.

Anti-advertising technology

Then one day this year, I decided that the hype had blue-balled me enough. I also accepted that, with the way things were going, Steve Jobs wasnt gonna give me one for free. (Darn.) So marching out of the Best Buy in Pasadena with an extra-fly nano in my hand, I did it. I finally became part of the Pod squad, one with the universe. Which, of course, meant checking out of it.

In an LA Times article, trend expert Irma Zandl, of the New York-based Zandl Group, said weve cultivated a curatorial mindset. We create, sample, edit and customize our lives to suit our needs. Blogs, TiVo and yup, the gleaming iPod are just some of the tools we use to decode and organize the cultural hieroglyphics around us. In this age of disposable information, its better to act as a filter and not a sponge. In fact, Zandl, together with nextperts Faith Popcorn, Jane Buckingham, Sharon Lee and DeeDee Gordon, have come up with a catch-all term to describe this development: curation nation. Yessir, its profound.

iLove it

Considering Ive only had my iPod for a couple of months, its amazing how I cant imagine myself without it. But being a huge music fiend, it all makes sense. Ive totally given up on FM radio, since I can afford not to be bothered by cheesy ads, brainless DJ banter, and annoyingly repetitive playlists. I can also tune out the gnarly grunts at the gym and human static at any homogenous mall-sprawl. Okay, I may have become a spaz but I am now a spaz whos learned to skim the fat off both his mp3 library and, uhm, life.

I never thought having one would hit me this way but, like, I was wrong. Not only do I spend a hideous (okay, dorky) amount of time hooked up to my nano, I also clock in a bunch of man hours updating my iTunes, keeping it fun and filler-free. New Fall Out Boy next to even newer Fiona Apple? Country boy Keith Urban next to cool chick Kelis? No problemo. Some of my recently picked-and-mixed playlists include I Wanna Be Kanye West (my favorites from The College Dropout and Late Registration), Cali Caliente (West Coast joints and Southern-fried rap), Crooklyn (sounds from a crazy night driving around Brooklyn), and Feels Like Teen Spirit (emo jams from Halloween 05long story). Creating ready-to-burn 80-minute soundtracks out of my 6,013-and-counting song collection has become an almost-daily ritual, not to mention an outlet for self-expression and editorial discipline. Other peeps find the cure for cancer in their downtime. Me? Well, I space out to the soothing sound of my digital music library. So there.

With the ferocity of a swarm of tech-talking locusts, I have ordered iStuff from, like clickwheel stickers, nano jackets and more. And I dont know about the bulkier models, but I wear my nano around my neck like a prized accessory. Or an anytime, anywhere ear vibrator. That I rub on my nipples when it gets hot. Oh. Forget I said that.

The Podster backlash

But its sorta mostly true that with all the lovers come the haters. Not a few cyberbullies have chewed on the iPods ass, citing other mp3 players with better price points and bigger storage capacities. Podster devotion has also been ridiculed, with some critics calling the white cord subculture a sign that society has become even more fragmented.

In the September/October issue of Radar Magazine, writer Daniel Radosh questions the iPod hype. But the more revealing phenomenon is how much effort has gone into convincing us of the iPods social importance. What tells you more about upper-middle-class America: that it likes to have lots of songs on a small device, or that it thinks the fact that it has lots of songs on a small device is worthy of a Newsweek cover story? Ooh, that reads like a burn.

Well, screw that

Its deceptively simple to slam the Pod phenomenon. As with all broad societal movements, resistance is to be expected, especially when a glut of publicity is involved. Those who diss the iPod are most likely from companies that do not have a strong community with their clients and have not managed to stay on trend, unlike Apple. Or, they could just be peeps who have nothing else to do.

Hype or no hype, Id like to sum up my sentiments on this issue by saying, Well, screw that. I only gave inand became an iGuybecause I really couldnt find any other mp3 player that looked as slick and was as easy to use as my nano. I can say the same about the countless other kids (and adults) whove joined the club/marketing niche. I bet that if you create any gadget that allows freedom, control, and a certain degree of self-indulgence, it would generate the same kind of devotion, too.

Steve Jobs iPod has gone from fad to phenomenon because it has made the lives of teens, twentysomethings and anyone with magpie mp3 tastes wildly better. Learning from the Google school of success, once you get used to better, you stay with it. Obviously youre free to disagree with me on this but I must warn you again: Ill be wired to my nano so, like, I wont be able to hear you.

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