iPod, Shuffle and the Herd

Posted by on Feb 14, 2007 in Uncategorized | 3 Comments


So there I am this avo, having a bracing stomp around Hampstead Heath in the mild winter sunshine, listening to a bizarre mix of the Only Ones, Tapper Zukie, Lee S-P and Johnny Mozart and it occurs to me one of the reasons iPods (and my new fave, the little silver shuffle) are so successful is that they respect and encourage our Herd nature:

i. the white accessories thing has always been a social marker
ii. the launch ads (incl. for the new shuffle) have largely been based on what Felders used to describe to us babyplanners as the “500m flies can’t be wrong, eat s*** strategy” – see what other folk around you are doing/buying/wearing…
iii. while being (largely*) a private usage product, they give each of us the impression that the we are taking part in some big lifestyle music video experience (and that everyone around is, too)
iv. fundamentally, they create the sensation for the isolated individual of being in a large and vibrant crowd where non-verbal interaction shapes our feelings and responses – more on music and ‘enthusiasmos’ soon…

This begins to answer a question I got asked at the AMA conference in Chicago in September – not sure I did the question justice during the show, but I hope this is a bit better. Just because (as Ray Kroc the fonder of MacDonalds put it) you serve burgers one at a time, doesn’t mean that it’s not a HERD product…single person purchase/usage does NOT equal or even indicate non-HERD motivations…

Think that’s right…?

*that is apart from those crazy mobile clubbing boys and girls...


  1. Jesse Fagan
    February 15, 2007

    Funny I caught this entry – I like to throw personal poetry up on my blog occasionally and I just put one up that talks about my iPod and the herd mentality (and a bit of Urban pastoralism/contemp. crit.) =P

  2. Dino
    February 15, 2007

    The white ear buds may be the best herd-markers in recent memory. A little like the Starbucks cup, too?

  3. Mark Earls
    February 15, 2007

    Ain’t that the truth, Dino.
    There was a phase amongst East London’s grooviest folk for the white ear buds to be replaced by something black and unbranded (and often ungainly). This seems to have passed now, though.