Shuffle Culture: How Apple Changed the Way we Listen to Music

Shuffle

I had never heard the idea of music played on ‘shuffle’ until I owned my first ipod in 2004.

The thought that I could import every single CD I owned into iTunes then set my music to shuffle so I’d effectively have my own personal jukebox was a revelation. To boot, I could make my own playlists which would kind of act like my own personal radio station, playing music of a particular genre at random, without pesky ads or DJs.

I was hooked, and so were millions of others who purchased iPods in the past ten years. As a mass we managed to create ‘shuffle culture’. The way people were listening to music actually changed, Β andΒ this change wasΒ created entirely by Apple.

Almost a decade later and I’m still a proud owner of several Apple devices (though I don’t think I qualify as a fangirl), but I’m starting to find shuffle kind of annoying. It seems that some playlists play the same set of tunes repeatedly, even when shuffling a thousand songs or more at a time. The frustration at this got me thinking about great albums that I love but haven’t listened to in long form for years.

So I started listening to music by the album recently – and it’s wonderful! Albums have become so much more interesting to me than the parts of the sum I had been listening to on shuffle.

How does this relate to instructional design? It doesn’t, not really, except it did get me thinking about how learning and especially instructional design at times seems to focus on producing small bites of information to be consumed ‘on the run’, in between work commitments and busy lives. This is all well and good, and I’m sure learners appreciate it, but are we at risk of losing the greater lesson or message of the work in the desperate need to keep learning brief and in morsel form? Just a thought.

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