Jan. 31, 2006

Pod People?

Did you ever see that old movie Invasion of the Body Snatchers? I'm thinking of the 1978 remake with Donald Sutherland, not the original. Younger readers might want to think of the Brain Slugs on Futurama. In both cases alien creatures attach themselves to people and take over their brains. Kind of like iPods, huh?

I've been reading some opinions that MP3 players, PVRs and personalized web pages are having the effect of cutting people off from new "cultural experiences". Everything they listen to or watch is from their existing collections or has been selected to conform to previous choices. The result is that it's getting harder for new bands or TV shows to find an audience because everyone's traveling in their own customized rut. It's also getting harder for people to share interests because, well, they don't share them. I don't really buy the argument, but I can see that these technologies are changed our experience in significant ways.

An article in the Globe & Mail today touched on this, discussing the "No DJs" format that some radio stations are adopting and a Canadian internet service called Radio Libre that lets you listen to a stream that is customised to your particular tastes. As much as I hate a yappy DJ I prefer to hear a human voice in the mix. My favourite DJ right now is Grant Lawrence, who hosts a CBC podcast on new music. Here's my Letter to the Editor on the subject, links added after the fact.

No commercials? That's $atellite radio. Or if you have a digital cable subscription it could be one of the Max Trax or Galaxie channels. I use those channels for background sometimes. I've never liked the 'Jack' format, to me it feels particularly bland and soulless. I can rattle around the music collection on my iPod without their help thank you. What I like is hearing something new and interesting mixed in with "my" music. Maybe Radio Libre is on to something. Yes, I know that commercial radio largely run playlists given to them by a marketing consultant. There are of course good DJs and bad DJ's, but having a human being on "the other end" gives me a sense of connection. My favourite podcast is DJ Grant Lawrence's Independent Canadian Music program on CBC's Radio 3 website (radio3.cbc.ca), which feels like we're sitting together leafing through his CD collection. Time well spent...
Nothing will pry my iPod nano from my hands though. Here's the direct iTunes link to subscribe to the CBC Radio 3 podcast.

Listening to: Panic (aka "Hang the DJ") by The Smiths from The World Won't Listen.

No comments:

Post a Comment