Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Rave: Books can be artworks and cultural icons, too

aka Review: The Cult of iPod by Leander Kahney -- Adapted from another piece of my writing

This book covers everything iPod, from how it nearly became a Sony product (thank god their execs are too silly to see the potential, or it would be a fall-apart piece of crap that is hard to use and ugly) through the design to the ways the public are all over it and influencing the next generations though.

This book is loaded with pictures, diagrams and is written in an inherently readable almost magazine-like format (books for the iPod generation, perhaps, where one doesn't have the concentration to hear a whole album nor read a whole book, but rather the units are songs and articles).

This book is beautiful. It has rounded corners like that of the iPod, and a screen on the front cover and iPod-like copyright markings on the back cover. Underneath each page number is a battery marker, indicating how much of the book remains to be read. The font is deisgned to be similar to the proprietary Apple font. All of this would not make this a good book, though. It would make it a beautiful book, but not a good one.

What makes this book good, and the closest possible approximation of an iPod in book form, is the content. It is eclectic, from a wide variety of sources (academic, commercial, fashion, anecdotal and possibly even apocryphal), and it is entertaining and informative all at once. And like an iPod on shuffle, the information seems somehow disjointed, and yet has an odd kind of flow. Sadly, though the sources are not well referenced, so finding out more is more of a journey.

Interesting ideas and people emerging from this book are:
  • iPod Jacking, which is a new way to share music
  • Markus Gielser, who was going to publish a book called iPod Therefore I am, telling people's own iPod Stories, but the title got stolen by that twat Dylan Thomas -- Markus Giesler is still around, though, and working on iPod Stories.
  • Playlistism, the discrimination against (or for) someone in a college dorm because of what is in their playlist. I wonder how much study has been done on this?
Anyways, if you care about iPods, digital music, or anything to do with Apple's newfound success, The Cult of iPod is a great, beautiful, and easy to read way to begin your journey into the literature.

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