Daily Illuminator

March 1, 2005: The Shuffle: We Saw That Coming

I have so far managed to avoid becoming one of the multitudes of iPod owners. But with the Shuffle, they're going to get me. That's finally small enough to be something you wear, rather than something you carry.

But it's amusing to note that SF authors worked this out a loong time ago. Asimov (and I can't remember the story - how sad!) describes a young lady showing off a toy made for her by a would-be boyfriend. It's a jewel that plays music to fit her moods wherever she goes. A rival of the creator grumps that such things used to be common, and were outlawed because they became a nuisance. The girl is not amused by his putdown.

Jack Vance's Maske: Thaery (1977) described a society where a personal soundtrack was a social requirement. A visitor is given one: "This is the selector, which affords you a carefully planned assortment of themes, including Stately Mien, Joviality, Pensive Dreams, Skylark Song, Receptiveness to Novel Ideas, Proud Assertion, Caprice and Original Whimsy, Quest for Love, Verve and Vivacity, Condolences, The Glory of Beauty, and others. This toggle adjusts for 'Morning,' 'Afternoon,' 'Evening,' 'Night'; this for 'Solitude,' 'Boon Companions,' 'Erotic Proximities,' and 'Crowds.' . . ."

This, of course, was only a tourist model. The natives had units of far more sophistication. One wonders what next year's iPod will do . . .
-- Steve Jackson

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