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Like nearly every new entertainment technology that's come along, the iPod is dangerous -- if the pleasurable state it brings you into is sought out to excess. And that's a big if. People prone to obsession and addiction will fall prey to iPod, just as they fall prey to TV, alcohol, and other compelling distractions. For the rest of the world, the iPod will be just one more thing to enjoy in moderation and abuse at our peril.

BTW, early studies of iPod use during exercise show that people using iPods tend to stay with the workout for a longer session and keep to a workout schedule. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2005/10/18/health/webmd/main953496.shtml

But riding a bike while listening to an iPod? Probabably not safe unless you're on a trail without cars.



Please, don't take my rants personally. And I know I'm being a bit of a crank, and that the likes of me probably bemoaned the loss of primacy of experience and warned of vast cultural degradation when George Eastman introduced the box camera. What a can of worms that one opened up!



Yes, an iPod can be an obstacle to focussed attention. When you're photographing or doing some other focussed activity, it's probably not the place for an iPod. But that doesn't negate the value of an iPod for nonfocussed activity. As you discovered on your bike, an iPod can be a wonderful asset to speed along otherwise dreary tasks. So, yes you can have your cake and eat it too. The revolutionary thing about iPod is that it completely recontextualizes otherwise familiar music. You can either view this as "disharmonious" or as wonderful. Either way it's something new. I find that listening to familiar CDs, I anticipate the next song and mentally prepare for it. The iPod obliterates that, and as a result each song seems to sound new. Even the most familiar songs sound different with different neighbors. In answer to your question if we're anesthesizing ourselves into mediocrity, for most of society the answer is Yes. Fortunately most of society's tasks require nonfocussed attention.

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