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Friday, September 17, 2021

Beyond the iPod novelty

The iPod has made itself to be a cultural super-being, able to hold one’s music library in the palm of their hands. And with the release of iPhones and iTouches, which easily connect to Wi-Fi networks, Apple Inc. wants to put the world in the pockets of the user.

Over 220,000,000 iPods have been sold in the 81 countries that offer them, since the release of the 1G iPod classic in 2002. After a mere seven years not only is the iPod in its sixth generation, but the once-10 gigabyte maximum capacity has evolved into 160 gigabytes of available music and video space. Loosely translated, 160 GB can store 40,000 songs, 200 hours of video or 25,000 photos.

Popularity and the broad availability are attributed to the popularity of the Apple product among both students and staff.

“iPods are more portable [than CDs] and have the ability to store more [data],” said Libby Tang, a senior psychology major.

Tang, who hosts a radio show on KDVS, is an owner of an iPod Shuffle. “Apple seems to be the cool company right now.”

Shuffles only hold two gigabytes of music, and Tang says over all she has 16 GB on her computer, so only her all time favorites are transported with her.

With every new generation of iPod, iPhone and iTouch comes not only the envy of the high-tech aesthetics, but also the internal dilemma of not having enough memory to store all your music on the previous generation’s capacity.

Students bypass this by sifting out old music, and others use alternate methods to deal with expanding libraries and capacity.

Sophomore electrical engineering major Jhonnatan Ascate has a unique system of determining what stays and what goes.

“I rate the songs when I get new music so my iPhone usually just has my top rated songs, like the ones that get four to five stars. When I get a new song I usually rate it four stars so I can listen to it right away, then I change it later.”

To do this effectively, Ascate says he updates his 16GB iPhone a couple of times a month.

Tim Chin, an undeclared sophomore, says he updates his 80 GB iPod about twice a week. “I have over 260 GB of music on my external hard drive; if I like something new, something old is going to have to go.”

This ability to easily dispose of music may come as a shock to those faithful to hard copy CDs, which have almost been rendered obsolete by digital music.

“Because digital music fits on iPods, or in other tiny spaces, it is instantly accessible and it is downloadable,” said technocultural studies director and associate professor Jesse Drew. “[iPods] keep expanding because they can. Because of their storage capacity, no one throws anything away.”

Many students use iTunes to download music, but that does not mean they forgo the CD buying process.

Chin says that he still buys CDs on a regular basis. Zack Barnes, a junior English and communication major, says he also primarily chooses CDs.

“Hard copies feel more real and less disposable.” said Barnes, who is also a deejay for KDVS.

Both admit there are times they turn to iTunes.

“When I can’t find a CD by some obscure and little known band at the store, it becomes necessary to use iTunes,” Barnes said.

iPods seem to be on the forefront of the digital music revolution, freedom fighters breaking from the societal rules of what a MP3 player ought to be. Used from augmenting lectures to controlling lights during shows in Freeborn Hall, iPods seem to be able to do everything.

But like with every revolution, there are dire consequences.

“I think many people are cheating themselves by limiting their aural sensations to pre-packaged, marketed tunes produced by the culture industries,” Drew said. “The sounds of our surroundings can be so much richer in many ways. Having those wires hanging from your ears all of the time will definitely diminish your social interaction.”

ANASTASIA ZHURAVLEVA can be reached at arts@theaggie.org.

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