In a world where technology makes music more convenient, will we end up remembering much of what we heard?
After a handful of days of tinkering, I’ve found iRadio nothing if not easy. Pandora-esque in its passivity, the only thing you need to do is press play and walk away. And, perhaps because of the data it has silently scraped from my iTunes, there are even fewer fast-forward moments than I’ve found in Pandora.
Last night, I listened to iRadio for the bulk of two hours and didn’t have to expend any effort whatsoever. I also don’t remember one song that was played.
In 2009, there was an article in Wired entitled “The Good Enough Revolution: When Cheap and Simple is Just Fine.” Looking over innovation after innovation in technology (flip cameras, Skype, even Predator drones), the article concluded that good enough was taking over aspect after aspect of our lives.
“We now favor flexibility over high fidelity, convenience over features, quick and dirty over slow and polished. Having it here and now is more important than having it perfect. These changes run so deep and wide, they’re actually altering what we mean when we describe a product as ‘high-quality’.”
Music was a featured example of the good enough economy. The advent of the mp3, and all of the ease that the file format entails, have all but eviscerated the sonic fidelity of the music we own– even for audiophiles such as myself. Even though I own a fancy stereo system, for years now 90% of the music I play through said system is made up of mp3s. It’s like serving up a frozen dinner on fine china, but I do so because it’s so easy… and it’s good enough.
Now, as streaming services are sending mp3s the way of CDs, music is being transformed by another “good enough” revolution. The core promise of the Pandoras and Spotifys and iRadios of the world is that your listening experience will be just fine. You’ll get a steady diet of music that is pretty much like the music you already like, and the entire experience will be entirely automated. You’ll seldom be surprised because, well, that’s the entire point. Continue reading