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The Cult of iPod 1st Edition
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"A veritable feast for the eyes." -- AppleLinks, January 27, 2006
About the Author
Leander Kahney is an editor at Wired News, where his Cult of Mac blog is a reader favorite. Previously, Kahney covered Apple and the Mac community for Wired News. He treats his subjects with insight and humor and his experiences interacting with Mac fanatics and attending Mac events around the world are highly entertaining. Kahney's work introduces an element of warmth not usually associated with technology reporting.
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Top Customer Reviews
At times, this volume's layout can be like reading Wired Magazine: a bit overwhelming when you simply want to look up a short entry. Like Wired, it's a bit pricy for what's actually compiled as text within as opposed to the attention-getting graphics. Kahney, a reporter for Wired News, reports here as a suitable follow-up to "The Cult of Mac," according to the back blurb (made to imitate in its copy and layout the I-Pod's own iconography). As a non-Mac user, it's intriguing to get a vivid if not too detailed glimpse into how the other 20% lives with their Cupertino- designed accoutrements.
This book admittedly does feel cobbled together as an assembly of bite-sized features and eye-candy pictorials, familiar to any reader of Wired. Yet, I suppose the author knows his audience. If the likely reader of this book is as curious about not the how-to of the I-Pod but the why, then this book begins to provide suggestions. Not for the newbie needing advice on its mimimalistically presented operation, but for the adept wishing to delight in its Zen-like presence. It's for a crowd who I presume is as enamored with the appearance of a product as well as the function of a product-- and this expresses Apple's cachét within the computer realm neatly. Therefore, it's an appropriate combination for the eyes that accompanies the soundtrack of one's life for each user's ears.
A suitable print companion would be Dylan Jones' "IPod, Therefore I Am" published also in 2005: this in Nick Hornsby "High Fidelity"-fashion conveys Jones' packing of his 40Gb jukebox with the best of his many records, and how our consumption of music has been affected by its portability. Malcolm McLaren back around 1982 predicted that music would become less important for younger generations but more disposable and therefore sought after as a cheap commodity. (This observation quoted in another fine 2005 study, Simon Reynolds' "Rip It Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978-1984.") This separation of the medium from the message, so to speak, reflects, perhaps, two decades later, the ubiquity of the device and the detachment of the record sleeve, the tape, the disc, from the music itself in digitized bytes and invisible shapes.
So, how does Leander Kahney succeed? Theorists and then journalists will no doubt follow the first reports on the I-Pod's arrival, as did Theodore Roscek and Stewart Brand and James Fallows and Tracy Kidder twenty-odd years ago in the wake of the first Apples and PCs. This larger-format but only 150 pp. entry, then, reminds me of two decades ago, when non-techies began raving about their PCs and how such devices would liberate us from drudgery and bring about unity. It's a primer to a phenomenon. Utopian, perhaps, in some of its claims, but this is probably the earliest entry in what will be a short shelf of studies of the impact of the shift from what's been labelled a move from broad- to narrow- to pod-casting, as the websites that supplanted networks in turn are superseded by programming tailored not to but by the individual. Kahney concludes that it's not technology but our culture that makes us antisocial, and that the I-Pod is not to be blamed. In fact, as podcasting and the sharing of playlists shows, it may in fact simply be the latest and far more easy-to-use evolved version of the mix-cassette tapes that were once lovingly made and exchanged as tokens of friendship and shared admiration those couple of decades ago.
The first section consists of the first three chapters. The iPod is introduced, and its basic functions and history explained. The rest of the book is the second part. It covers a large number of iPod topics at random. Material covered includes homemade iPod ads, the custom iPods of some celebrities, iPod DJs, and products that have been invented as a result of the iPod's existence. Stylistically, the book is designed to resemble the iPod. For example, the cover resembles the front of an iPod, and the table of contents looks like an iTunes library list. In spite of being 160 pages long, you can read the book in less than two hours due to the large number of colorful photos present.
The book is more about the cultural impact of the iPod than its inner mechanics. It is not one of those "Missing Manuals" you often see. There is a fascinating exploded view of the iPod internals on pages 36 and 37, but more interesting - at least to me - was the discussion on iPod jacking starting on page 103. There are also stories about people using their iPods to block out the rest of the world, people using the white ear buds to show they are part of the "iPod group", and alternatively, people who use ordinary earphones to hide the fact that they are using an iPod who are trying to assert that they do not follow the crowd.
There are humorous stories about the perils of being an iPod-using Microsoft employee, and serious ones such as the one about posters that mimic iPod ads but are actually protesting the Iraq war. There really is something here for everyone. Don't let its "coffee table book" look fool you - there really is some deep and thoughtful material here.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
After the success of his "Cult of Mac" book, which highlighted the deep and often intense relationship Mac-users have with their computers,...Read more