The Magic of Shuffle

One of the most overlooked innovations over the past decade is shuffle. Before the digital music revolution we weren’t just tied to the purchase of albums rather than individual tracks but we were often forced to listen to only the same group of songs every time we decided to play music. There were of course mix tapes and then mix CDs but these had their limits. I know there were some songs I would pretty much never NOT want them to surface in a music rotation and they would then occupy 2 or 3 tracks on every CD I burned.

But with mp3s suddenly music became more personal and more interesting. The Beatles could follow the theme to Fraggle Rock which could itself be followed by a Wagner overture. First this selection was limited to personal computers which had the storage for hundreds if songs on one device but with the iPod and other modern mp3 players (my Diamond Rio still holds a special place in my gadget loving heart but 32 MEGAbytes was small in 1999 and is nearly microscopic today) this power came to our pockets.

Now the Genius function in iTunes, as one example, can look at your music library and as long as you are connected to the Internet, not just shuffle from one genre to the next without delay but suggest new music based on what it finds.

To think that my earliest memories include flipping a few records before I was even school-aged and now can create my own radio station that can travel with me anywhere I have an Internet connection is still fascinating. In. A matter if decades we have gone from vinyl to cassettes to CDs to digital music; from no enduser freedom to complete choice and randomness.

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