The Shuffle is a Robot

When we think of robots, we usually envision something with wheels for feet, and arms spinning like the Lost and Space guy crying “Danger Will Robinson!”  The alternative is the robot many of us now live with, roomba, spinning and beeping like R2D2. Roomba is the only vacuum 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.   It has the 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 determined to 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 one to 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.”

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