Thursday, November 27, 2003

iPod jacking makes people share

iPod jacking makes people share

I recently irked some folks by saying I believe conservatives and libertarians (conservatives who wear their caps backward) don't like to share. That explains why they are usually opposed to supporting the common good. MacRumors reports there is something new to for such persons to worry about. Wired's Leander Kahney has the original story.

During his regular evening walk, software executive Steve Crandall often nods a polite greeting to other iPod users he passes: He easily spots the distinctive white earbuds threaded from pocket to ears.

But while quietly enjoying some chamber music one evening in August, Crandall's polite nodding protocol was rudely shattered.

Crandall was boldly approached by another iPod user, a 30ish woman bopping enthusiastically to some high-energy tune.

"She walked right up to me and got within my comfort field," Crandall stammered. "I was taken aback. She pulled out the earbuds on her iPod and indicated the jack with her eyes."

Warily unplugging his own earbuds, Crandall gingerly plugged them into the woman's iPod, and was greeted by a rush of techno.

"We listened for about 30 seconds," Crandall said. "No words were exchanged. We nodded and walked off."

The following evening, Crandall saw the woman again. This time, she was sharing her iPod with another iPod regular Crandall had spotted on his walks.

Within a couple of days, Crandall had performed the iPod sharing ritual with all the other four or five regulars he sees on his walks. Since August, they've listened to each other's music dozens of times.

I freely admit to iPod promiscuity. Since acquiring my first, soon after the esteemed MP3 player/hard drive was released, I have shared music with family, friends and complete strangers. My current digital companion, Titania, has been handled by more men than I've given my phone number in the last year. The iPod has become well enough known that people will often ask to take a closer look at it. Some say they are considering getting their own. Like Crandall, I notice other iPod users and they notice me. We sometimes compare notes on what we have on our 'Pods, listen to each others tunes briefly or, now that a hack allowing it is available, trade songs.

I really hadn't given much thought to the sociability factor of the iPod, taking it for granted. The article at Wired and responses to it at MacRumors have caused me to realize that I may need to become more circumspect. What if the not-so-secret sharer is a conservative or a libertarian? Then, I could be unknowingly stepping on his toes.

Crandall, who also has a weblog, Tingilinde, has seen iPod sharing catch on in his native milieu and heard rumors of it on some college campuses. But, he has also encountered hostile responses when suggesting mutual musical moments in New York City.

In looking back, I realize I've usually been the respondent to iPod information and music exchanges. However, if the iPod jacking spreads, that may change. Perhaps I will become an aggressive plucker of plugs. But, I promise not to force conservatives and libertarians to share.

This entry appeared at Mac-a-ro-nies.

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