Music plays an essential role in many people’s lives. Plenty of people enjoy listening to music while doing chores, going on walks, and exercising. Some of them do not want the predictability of knowing what song comes next, which is why the iPod’s shuffle feature is such a convenience. It creates a playlist in which songs are arranged randomly, and each song plays only once. With the benefit of this innovation comes the question of whether the arrangement of songs is truly random. Various examples showcase that randomness is not exactly random in the shuffle feature, with the iPod seemingly giving preference to the same artists or completely ignoring others (Newsweek staff par. 2). The ways this innovation has been applied shows that the nature of the concept of randomness is much more complex and intricate than one might think.
In order to answer the question of whether the shuffle really plays users’ songs randomly, one must attempt to define randomness. When I hear the word “random,” a notion of unexpected comes to mind, for example, not being able to tell which side a coin lands. While considering the people’s experiences with the shuffle, that is, them being frustrated with the shuffle’s arrangement, I found that I was not surprised by this outcome. The idea of random as unexpected is exhibited in these examples: people expected a playlist with songs that would vary from each other.
On the contrary, the feature simply strings titles with no regard for how they relate to each other. Therefore, I am of the opinion that the shuffle feature is truly random. It shows no consideration for the songs’ coherence with one another or whether they are new to the music library. As John Allen Paulos explained, people tend to find patterns in random ministrations of life (Newsweek staff par. 7). Because of this quirk of human nature, even a random string of songs can be open to predictability. In addition, a person cannot say with absolute certainty whether a sequence of songs is arranged randomly or not, with the human mind trying to catch onto possible patterns.
In conclusion, the nature of randomness in the shuffle feature of the iPod has been put under scrutiny. Users of this innovation report a seeming lack of randomness with the generated song sequences when some artists play constantly, and others are neglected. Despite this evidence, the human tendency to search for patterns can be the answer to the problem. This is supported by the fact that the very notion of randomness includes disregard for the songs’ coherence with each other.
Newsweek Staff. “Does Your iPod Play Favorites?” Newsweek.