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The magnificent iPod

The little iPod portable sound system that allows you access to thousands of your favourite tunes is likely to be flying off the shelves this Christmas. No wonder. The device is a marvel and one of those trendy “must-have” items that our modern capitalist system seems to excel in. Apple’s sales growth has gone up tremendously over the past year partly as a result of the gadget.

Interestingly, this emblem of shameless materialism is also finding uses in the field of medical science, if this story, which I came across via libertarian author Virginia Postrel, is a guide. Medical researchers use the device to help them keep records of medical data and relay it back. Clever. It shows how certain types of technology that start off in a supposedly frivolous field like portable music gadgets can accomplish something more serious, as Postrel points out. Side point: I wish she would increase the font size of her blog. It is killing my eyesight. As I pointed out a week or so ago, another product of Silicon Valley entrepreneurship, the eBay auction site, has been used by buyers as unusual as the London Underground for the purposes of getting obscure spare parts.

I think what this demonstrates in general is the yawning gap between the dynamism and creativity of the private sector and the plodding performance of all too much of what goes under under the aegis of the State. It also reminds us a bit I think of the good news that continues to be out there, if we want to look for it. Let’s be honest, a lot of what we have written about lately, such as the ID card issue and free speech infringements, makes for dark reading. Let’s not lose sight of the ways in which free enterprise is still on the march.

On that cheery note, have a very merry Christmas and happy 2005, and hopefully, a prosperous and peaceful one too. Thanks to my fellow contributors for making this blog so much stimulating fun.

8 comments to The magnificent iPod

  • Amazing but true: When the third Lord of the Rings movie was in post-production, some of the special effects work was done on computers at Peter Jackson’s Weta Digital facility in New Zealand, and then was carried to London for post production work…. in an iPod.

  • zmollusc

    Oh, puhh-leeease! Ipods are so last week.

  • dan

    I agree about virginia’s font size — but, if you browse with Mozilla Firefox (mozilla.org), you can adjust the font size of any page upwards by holding down the CTRL key and pressing + as many times as you like.

  • I luvs my iPod. Got it for Christmas and it is my constant companion when I leave the house. When I got it I didn’t even know that it functioned as a portable hard drive (20 GB) with its USB connection. And it’s obviously just the tip of the iceberg; I can’t wait to see the next generation. iPod car stereo anyone?

    I am going to have to get a protective case though. The screen is getting a bit scratched up, and I have a Garmin GPS that is unreadable because of similar scratches.

  • Ted Schuerzinger

    The font shows up fine on my browser — but then, I use Opera, in which you can set up your own alternate stylesheets to change font-sizes.

  • I have found my several year old iPod invaluable when it comes to learning the words to our band’s songs. Just because I wrote the lyrics doesn’t mean I can remember all of them.

    Its great for listening to music I am reviewing as well. The iPod is one of those technological items I have no clue how I survived without.

  • Bruce Hoult

    Never underestimate the bandwidth of a grad student driving a station wagon full of iPods.

    Or a businessman with a few in his carry-on luggage, for that matter.

  • I just today received the 40GB iPod I ordered at a discount from my college’s bookstore. I’m now waiting for my copy of O’Reilly & Associates’ iPod and iTunes Hacks so I can set my iPod up as an emergency boot disk (and home directory backup) for my PowerBook G4.