Monday, March 12, 2007

Review of Stephen Levy's book The Perfect Thing

Gloria Church is the head of the Whiz Kids program here at Providence Public Library. The Whiz Kids is a series of programs for kids of all ages using computers to do all sorts of fun activities. I had the pleasure of being a part of it one summer and it was a lot of fun. Check the schedule here for dates. The reason I mention this is because Gloria had suggested a book for the blog that she really enjoyed. Below is her review.

Now I'm not one to get emotional about products except food but hearing people talk about their iPod has really made me curious. A close friend at work will blurt out "I love my iPod. No, I mean I really looove my iPod" Ok, ok I believe you so I had to learn more. Stephen Levy's book The Perfect Thing covers everything about the iPod, its creation, development, coolness and shuffle features. Written by the senior editor of technology for Newsweek, the book's cover looks like an iPod and its chapters are shuffled in different order in different copies. The author takes several chapters to examine the coolness factor of the iPod. "While coolness might have been in the back of Apple's head all along, the company's real drive was for greatness." The incredible and relentless attention to every minutia of the iPod's design is what fascinated me. Other chapters include Download, Podcasts, Identity and Personal. The chapter on "shuffle" was another favorite of mine and really got my brain cells buzzing. Shuffle, of course, is the feature that takes your song playlist and mixes it up in a random fashion. Stephen Levy wonders as do many others, "is the shuffle function not really random at all?" He investigates reports from many that "the iPod, despite being the inanimate object that it was, would decide which artist it was in the mood for and then flood the listening session with that performer's works." This became comical but really fun to read about as he approached Apple programmmers and Steve Jobs himself. Check this book out;we have it at the library and its a fast read.


Anonymous said...

7:AM....Monday?! are a real trooper.
Things I (and others) don't like about the ipod:
The Price Point- each type about $100 more than the other brands
The mac/pc issues-
Lets say I use a different media player other than itunes (I use itunes also, but...), most any device registers right away when using, say WindowsMediaPlayer--where as you not be able to access an ipod at all.
And My mp3 player has a "random" setting also....

Shane Sher said...

I appreciate the compliment. I do get up rather early. Thank you.
Now on to the points. While it is true they tend to be more expensive than most players I find that I pay for a design that is not only very user friendly but one I actually like. I make purchases based on usability not only on price. I have returned many electronics because the ease of use was not there. As far as it being overpriced, the much anticipated Zune player was around $250 and it did not have video functions but it did have wireless. My point is that other players have expensive models in their lines but because the iPod dominates so much of the market it has now become fashionable to not like it. I am not saying that it is perfect because it is not. It has DRM and it is pricey for the model that I wanted but I still feel as though I got a bargain because it does what I want and how I want it done.

Thank you for commenting. I wish others who felt strongly would as well.
PS See you tomorrow bright and early!