September 03, 2005

My iPod Shuffles Not

Om Malik writes about the iPod Shuffle in his blog yesterday and repeats a misconception I have heard over and over again: that the only way to listen to the songs downloaded to an iPod Shuffle is in random order.

Here's Om:

One of the hardest exercises I had to undertake ever came a few hours after I spent $99 on an iPod Shuffle. I had to decide on 75 of my most favorite songs - tracks that will entertain me almost anywhere, anytime in any kind of setting. Why? With no control over what song was going to come next, it was like programming the perfect radio station, the one that could play in a non-stop loop, and be the soundtrack of life. My life.

I wonder if he realizes this isn't true?

I am posting this right now while listening to the 4th movement from Bruckner's Symphony No. 5 in B Flat Major. Before that I listened to the 3rd movement. Before that, the second. And before that the first. It would be weird to listen to it any other way.

The way I put stuff on my Shuffle is to make a playlist, with an intentional order of songs, and then I copy 'em all to the Shuffle. And when I play 'em, I play them in sequential order, the way I want them to be played, not the way Steve wants me to play them.

Sure, it's possible to listen to the tunes in random order. And sometimes, that can be fun. Sometimes, once in a great while, enlightening, when two songs that couldn't be more dissimilar in style, timbre, mood, and genre, segue into each other and you find that they bridge just perfectly.

But most of the time I tell my Shuffle to play in linear mode. It's possible: just turn your iPod Shuffle over, and on the back side is the little white slider button, which you move to the middle position, for the linear sequence setting. Pull the slider too far down and you get the random-sequence setting.

The middle way is the way for me.

Posted by brian at September 3, 2005 12:43 PM


Karen has been listening to audiobooks and podcasts on her Shuffle since the day she got it. I don't think it's been in random mode once.

Odd that folks wouldn't notice the linear setting. It's not like there are a lot of controls. I wonder if there's a threshhold beyond which an "obvious" indicator fades because it's *too* obvious.

Posted by: Chris at September 5, 2005 02:24 PM

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