When we think of robots, we usually envisionÂ somethingÂ with wheels for feet, and arms spinning likeÂ theÂ Lost and Space guy crying “Danger Will Robinson!” Â TheÂ alternativeÂ isÂ theÂ robot manyÂ ofÂ us now live with, roomba, spinning and beeping like R2D2. Roomba is the onlyÂ vacuumÂ cleaner to whom I’ve said: “you are so stupid.” The robot is inscrutable. It does things according to its programming, and you can neither influence it (except with a nudge of the foot), command it nor educate it. Â It hasÂ theÂ appearance of free will, thus the appearance of a lack of good judgement when it gets stuck under a kitchen shelve or tangled in a throw rug.
The shuffle, of all the ipods, also appears to have a will of its own. When I’m on my bike and want a podcast, it seems determinedÂ toÂ give me FatBoySlim. When I want to get motivated, it may obligate with Car Wash, or it may suddenly provide Howl (a poem, while inspiring, not really inspiring oneÂ toÂ run any faster….)
I think the shuffle, unlike all other ipods, became a robot in persona if not by strict definition simply because it has no interface. Instead of me requesting things and getting them it uses randomness that resembles will. And thus I say, as I try to climb that last hill on Arestadero Road to William Carlos Williams “you are so stupid, shuffle.”