Two Interesting Articles On The Networked Life

And I don’t mean computer networks. First, this iinteresting article from Metropolis magazine on “disconnected urbanism”. The author is discussing how cellphones enable us to transcend physicality and still maintain communication relationships, and how our phone number is so much less geographically relevant than it used to be. The author is also concerned that cellphone use makes public spaces less public, and it’s probably true that we interact less with our surroundings when we can carry on a personal conversation while walking down the street. Anyway, interesting article.

Second, this Wired article called “Feel free to jack in to my iPod”, which I find fascinating. The only time this has happened to me was on a plane, when my seatmate and I swapped for a bit, after extensive conversation. The most interesting thing about this phenomenon is its relative anonymity and lack of conversation, yet it’s a repeated ritual:

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.

How cool is this? The article concludes by discussing something that I’m sure that if the RIAA folks have thought about, they don’t like, not one bit: these devices are easily Bluetooth enabled, and we may be able to soon swap songs on the fly.