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Choice Fatigue, Randomness And The iPod

Brian Eno has some interesting comments in August’s issue of Word Magazine:

‘The interesting thing about [the iPod Shuffle] is you can’t control the order. Suddenly some of the surprise of music reappears. It’s the first commercial product which uses randomness and this is a very interesting response to the oversupply of choice. We’ve had a whole generation of people saying, ‘You have more and more choice, anything you want.’ But there’s really been no attention to what happens when you have all that choice. How do you organise it? And what this little iPod says is, actually you don’t. You just let it surprise you.’

Psychologists talk about ‘choice fatigue’, something we Westerners hit at the supermarket. But we couldn’t shop via the shuffle method. Or could we?