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As a music loving geek I have owned an iPod, or some derivation thereof, for quite some time.  My portable music player is a major part of my daily routine.  One of the things that I truly love about the iPod, or in my current case my iPhone, is Tuesdays in the iTunes store.  Yes, there is plenty of new music to browse through every week, but I don’t have so much disposable income that I can simply shop at my leisure.  No, I head to the iTunes store on Tuesdays for one reason, and one reason only.

The Free Single of the Week.

As I downloaded this week’s selection (“Bang Bang Bang” by The Virginmarys if you’re curious) I thought about the way the world of music has changed.  Back in the early days of rock n’ roll the single was king.  As time passed things transitioned to a more album-centric format.  And, now?  Now we have a totally different animal, a strange mix of the single and album centric mentalities.  Services like iTunes, Rhapsody, and Napster allow us to snag that one song we like by that artist we hate without having to buy an album.  But, it really goes beyond that.  The online music stores are only part of the changing picture of music.

I discover new music I never would have been exposed to even 5 years ago every day, and I’m guessing many of you do as well.  And, my Tuesday iTunes fix is only the smallest part of that.  Services like Pandora, Slacker Radio,, and the like allow us to listen to much more customized content than any radio station, satellite or otherwise, could ever provide.  They also occasionally will toss us a song by an unfamiliar artist that catches our attention.

And thus, regional artists get national (even international) exposure.  Bands on smaller labels get mixed right in with the big boys.  And we all get the chance to diversify our collections.

It’s a beautiful thing.

Of course, music isn’t the only media being affected thus.  What did the Kindle and Sony Reader do for publishing?  What have Netflix, redbox, and movie rentals through services like iTunes done for film?  How about Hulu for television?

Moore’s Law used to be simply for computers, but it is very quickly become a societal phenomenon, quietly insinuating itself into every aspect of our lives.  Anyone who doesn’t believe that try to get a roll of 35mm film developed or find a new VHS player or a computer with a dial-up modem and floppy drive.  These things are practically relics these days, but it wasn’t that long ago that they were everyday parts of our culture.

We live in an increasingly digital world.  The wonders that these new technologies produce are truly breathtaking.  I just hope that we have enough sense to keep from becoming Ghosts in the Machine.


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