Feb 25, 2007

iPod Again

I got a lot of feedback on my iPod panic attack, so here's a response to some of those comments. We got some references for some articles on the subject. So google "Michael Bull, iconic designs" and "Ferguson, "anti ipod" for some perspectives that aren't mine.

I'm fortunate enough to be exposed to a lot of fabulous music (my best friend/housemate is a musician and SF has a great music scene. NOISE POP starts tonight!). Music is important to me, it's art. It's an aspect of our culture that I'm relishing as a Compactor. It also offers a way to relate to cultures that are not my own.

iSolation is a definite issue w/ the iPod. During 4 years of bus riding, I never used headphones b/c I thought it detracted from the experience, isolated me from other folks. I see nothing more isolating than the majority of our society piling into personal vehicles every day to get to work and school. And while my friends and family hate that I use my iPod while cycling, that's mostly when I use it. And I can still talk to the cyclists I pass or meet at lights. (If you want to go off on me about this, then you should consider whether you drive while on your cellphone or eating, or whatever. If you cycle, bus it, or hoof it, you can scold me if you must.)

We have a boombox at home that we found on the street, but it doesn't even play cds. We use it to connect to our laptops for dvd watching as we have no TV, no DVD player. We use an iPod through our 8 year old computer speakers as our in home stereo system. I relay this in response to the "you own your stuff, your stuff doesn't own you" concept. It's a great discussion point. I avoid the latter paradigm, in part, by not personifying inanimate objects. ;)

Personally, I appreciate that I can download music and not buy cd's w/ all that packaging. I don't appreciate the massive marketing campaign that Apple has sustained to promote the iPod. It's annoying and wasteful, but I find that the device itself is probably a good tool for reduction in the environmental respect. Planned obsolesence is disgusting as well. But with enough pressure from consumers, Apple is now selling refurbished iPods and replacing the batteries for a flat fee. Yep, the waste is still high, but they're moving in the right direction.

Buying a used iPod does not necessitate that someone else buys a new one. By that logic, we shouldn't ever buy anything used. If there's a point in my lifetime that I can't live so modernly on used goods, then so be it. However, we're not even close to that scenario. And if that is somehow desireable -not sure that it is- I don't think we'll get there by living in denial of technology and modernity. That scares people, it doesn't make reducing your consumption look easy. It makes it seem scary and impractical (to most folks).

My iPod is 3 1/2 years old. If it died or disappeared, you'd find me with one refurbished or used from Craigslist within days. I'm moving to London for a year and I'm not taking a cd collection. I am taking about 40 GB of music on a 10 GB iPod and an external hard drive (which I got used on Craigslist last year, perfect condition).


A said...


This is not related to ipods- in fact it's at the other end of the technological spectrum, but don't know if you've covered it previously so here goes:

Ever wondered how you can reduce the amount of paper, cotton and cellophane thrown out when using sanitary products?

Here's an option:


Can't speak from personal experience but there are plenty of testimonials on the site.

The people at 'Carefree' would freak if too many women used this waste free alternative.

Anonymous said...

Why does it have to be an IPod? Why not a generic MP3 player? Why do people let popular catchy advertisements convince the the I-Pod brand is the only one that exists?

rachel said...

definitely does not have to be an ipod. as i mentioned in my post, i hate the advertising campaign.

but i don't think ipods are evil and other brands are not. i've had an ipod since the darn thing came out, it was the first practical mp3 player.

i'm familiar with the ipod, and i'm unlikely to switch as i use a mac and am generally familiar w/ the way the products work.

plus, it's easier to say ipod than sony mp3 player.

Sage Mommy said...

I am so happy I found you guys! I am about to do the same thing, except more extreme because I'm not buying anything except food, and then only from local producers. I have a large family and I'm so sick of buy-buy-buying. Glad to know I'm not the only one!

Anonymous said...

I think it would be very nice if people could make conscious decisions to be less wasteful, greener without feeling like every aspect of their lives is being scrutinized. iPod, MP3, Walkman, Discman ... whatever ... who cares?

Keep doing what you're doing and when enough people see the benefit of living a lighter life, we'll all be thanking you for your trailblazing!

marrison said...

Regarding iPod (or other MP3 player) use in public: I work on a college campus. When I meet another person on a sidewalk who is using his or her player with earbuds, we still have the ability to make eye contact, smile, say hello, even chat if we want to. Conversely, when someone uses a cell phone along that same sidewalk, he or she is totally tuned out to others. They are turned inward focusing on their conversation. I've often felt they look through others if they notice them at all.

If I'm wearing my iPod on walks and I see a neighbor along my route, I turn off the 'pod and remove my earbuds well before I approach them so that I don't appear isolationist.

One last thing I'd like to bring up is a music service online similar to Netflix for movies. It's called LaLa (www.lala.org) where you can trade your used CDs and get others for a nomimal fee (under $2). Part of the proceeds go to the artists. I can't recommend this service highly enough. There are enough participants to have a hugely diverse selection of musical genres and CD titles.

Derek said...

What I don't understand about the iPod, etc; is why carry around a single function device. There's got to be at least 50 different "smart" phones that have flash cards (1GB/2GB/4GB/8GB) and can play music. Heck, my Treo even plays movies (which is great when I have to travel). Options abound, including many great used devices on eBay.

Clint Green said...

The best part of being an American citiizen is being free to make choices and decisions that are best for you. I say if you want to buy an iPod, buy away. In any event, buying and selling is the basis of our economy so when you buy something, new or used, you aid the economy. The other side of the coin is that when we choose not to purchase things that we either want or need, we are hurting the economy and those who make the items in question.

As for isolationism, it seems that is what many of our political leaders want...America to bury its head in the sand and ignore the wider world around us. Iraq, Iran, North Korea, all are powderkegs waiting to explode and we must defend ourselves against them. We must not be isolationist, either in our neighborhoods and our personal lives, or in our national and international relations.

the opoponax said...

Late to the game, but I wanted to add something about "planned obsolescence" -- as far as I can tell, the only way the iPod products have a planned obsolescence is in the marketing aspect. A new generation comes out, and so all the "cool" kids have to go out and get that. I have a second gen iPod that is about 3 years old. It still works just fine, and the only difference between it and the newer models is that it doesn't play video. Which doesn't matter to me, as I wouldn't use that function much, anyway.