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October 29, 2006

The Perfect Thing: How the iPod Shuffles Commerce, Culture, and Coolness

In a research group that consistently publishes on the ways in which new media technologies are impacting the way that users are interacting with content, the ways in which producers are making that content available, and the new financial models that companies are able to/forced to create to accommodate for these new technologies, few innovative products have had more of an impact on our society than the iPod.

The iPod innovated the music industry, distribution of music videos, the television industry, and now movies and casual games.

To commemorate this massive cultural reach, Newsweek journalist Steven Levy has published The Perfect Thing: How the iPod Shuffles Commerce, Culture, and Coolness.

I was impressed with the the book's design to look like a video iPod, as well as the fact that the book is written in shuffle mode, with the chapters being arranged in different order depending on which version you purchase. Gimmicky? Sure. But it's a pretty darn creative gimmick.

I haven't read the book yet, but I was impressed by the review by Clayton Collins with The Christian Science Monitor. Collins writes, "Both Apple and Jobs, Levy persuades, continue to emit brilliance, navigating the rocks of digital rights management, morphing the product, winning over fans from rock stars to college kids to preteen girls," and he further emphasizes that "his treatment of shuffle also highlights Levy's remarkable depth of access. Recounting one of many private encounters with unrelenting visionary Steve Jobs, Apple's chief, the author describes a heady chat about the "randomizing algorithm" of shuffle."

For anyone wanting a sample of some of Levy's insight, check out his blog on the iPod promoting the book here.

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