Via the unimpeachable TMFTML, a critique of the iPod: "I’ve read that white headphone wearers on the streets of Manhattan nod at each other in solidarity, like members of a tribe or a secret society." I don't know about other people, but I usually move to the other end of the subway platform when I see someone else wearing the white headphones. The thesis seems to be that the iPod has become a hipster status symbol, which it may well have, in certain lower Manhattan and upper Brooklyn neighborhoods where the boys wear plaid shorts and polo shirts with upturned collars like refugees from the evil frat in the John Hughes movies, but I would suggest a more arcane explanation, which is that the iPod is popular because it's a really good product. Reminds me of one of Steven Johnson's favorite stories — he was reading an article about the marketing of the Gillette Mach razors, and he came across an exchange in which some ultra-savvy advertising guru was asked how the company had achieved such a grip on the market, and the guy replied, "Have you tried this thing? It's awesome!"
All that said, I've become a little disenchanted with the Shuffle feature, which I praised a few months back, causing myself to be widely quoted in ways that made me sound like a nincompoop (always a good lesson for a journalist). The trouble is that my iPod is now loaded up with all kinds of book-related high-modernist material, which I seldom want to hear when I'm trying to make it over that last big hill on the cross-trainer. The machine has a mocking fondness for Stravinsky's Agon in this respect, and, if it's feeling really vicious, Stockhausen's Gruppen. I'm going to land in the hospital if that happens again. All I really want is "Champagne Supernova." Yes, Sasha, this is basically the same post I put up two months ago and then took down, not wanting to become "one of those blogs." You know, the kind that has cute kitty pictures.