Yesterday, the Chicago Tribune ran a piece on its Op-Ed page called “The ubiquity of the iPod.” Yes, it was another fluff piece about how all the white headphones we see daily are proof that the iPod is a cultural phenomenon which is changing the world, and will eventually change the way we do everything, including iPod-equipped lawnmowers so we can listen to Kelly Clarkson while keeping our suburban lawns neat.
(Okay, I made up the part about the lawnmower, but to the enterprising person who actually produces this product: my PayPal address will be provided on request.)
I won’t go line-by-line through the article, mainly because it won’t do any of us any good. Let’s just say that the author is one of those legions of people who can’t see the iPod for what it is: a Walkman with more storage space.
One point that deserves a response is that, while listening to a “podcast” from the Vatican, the writer realized that while “Rome and the Vatican were 3,000 miles away.. this small, white, diminutive device had transported me to the Sistine Chapel.”
Uhhh, ever hear of a “small, diminutive device” called a radio? And let’s be clear about something: a podcast is, by its very definition, not live. While this writer was listening to his recording of the Vatican, he missed a bunch of other stuff that was going on in the world at that moment. He may as well have been listening to coverage of President Roosevelt’s funeral from 50 years ago.
And no iPod piece would be complete without the obligitory saccharine flow: “The iPod does not know any barriers–it is universally known and accepted. The iPod represents the next great step in technology for consumers, after the Internet and the cellular phone.”
Bravo. I too see how a $300 music player has had such a tremendous impact on our society and is certainly a must-have item that’s within the reach of each and every American citizen. Uh-huh.
Don’t get me wrong: I own two iPods, and I use them daily. But I somehow manage to keep perspective about their impact on my life and the lives of people around me.
What gets me is that the Chicago Tribune devoted half a page to this piece of cotton candy. Maybe they figure the public is tired of Terri Schiavo, the Pope(s), Tom DeLay, etc. and we need to hear about something that’s good in the world. So why not print a piece about a gadget that everyone seems to want?
Plus, it’s about time someone went up and spoke out against that formidable anti-iPod lobby.
Since this is the kind of vapid self-promotion Tribune editors seem to want to publish, I’m already working on my piece for them. And maybe after I get my jollies from Googling my name out there, I’ll get free HBO

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