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You Shouldn't Fix Your Old iPod
A Counter Argument to Something I Would Normally Advocate
If you follow me on Instagram you might have seen that I fix and modify iPods. That’s right, those old classic MP3 players with the bright screen and click-wheel, made by Apple and were pretty expensive when they came out, remember those? Well, I don’t know if just cuz I’m in that world but there seems to be a tiny resurgence cropping up. Maybe you haven’t seen it but more and more people have been posting and bragging that they’ve repaired or modified their iPod, or even purchased a modded one. Small businesses that deal in iPod parts have been cropping up as well, perhaps due to this demand. And if you’re a music lover who’s ever owned an iPod it may look enticing to blow the dust off of your old ‘pod and possibly give it new life. But I’m here to tell you “Nah, don’t worry about it.”
And I tell you this as a daily iPod user. That’s right, I still use my iPod everyday; in the car going to work and back or in the studio while I’m working, it’s really like a best friend. I’ve modified it 3 times, the last of which may be its final time. I’m taking it to the limit, seeing how far I can push its (new) 512GB memory.
I thrive with an iPod because of a few key things: I enjoy tinkering with small, useful electronics, especially obsolete ones; I love music so much that I wanna “have” it and collect it; and I relish how my music taste is not in the grand mix of advertising algorithms.
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Let’s start with the tinkering aspect. Repairing and/or modifying your iPod will require you to crack it open and fiddle around with tiny electronics. Are you comfortable doing that? It will require patience (cracking it open is a big job in and of itself) and a steady hand as you navigate this tiny computer, gently lifting ribbon cable holders and firmly lifting the battery off its sticky situation. How do you feel about installing hard drives and partitioning out SD cards cuz that’s what’s involved as well. Sure, there’s forums and how-to videos galore that’ll walk you through all of this, but if you’re not very confident to begin with this may turn into a daunting task. Or you could pay someone to do it, but then you’d have to pay someone.
…to have an iPod is to manage a digital music collection
Next one, collecting and “having” music. This is a big one. So now you have this modified iPod with a killer 256GB of space. What do you fill it with? Where do you get the music to put in it? Yes, you can pay and download all you want on Apple music. Bandcamp is great as well, I love Bandcamp. Through them you can pay to obtain music files to put on your iPod. Same with the download cards that came with all those vinyl records you’ve purchased over the years. Do record companies still give out download cards with their vinyl? Did you ever redeem them? Okay, but you still have that old CD collection, remember? And eBay has plenty of used CDs, so do thrift stores. Nowadays CDs can be obtained very cheaply and then you rip ’em onto your computer. Oh, but you need a disk drive to do the ripping. The point is, it can be expensive and discouraging as hell to figure out where to get music. And then when you get it you gotta organize it, cuz if you don’t the iPod readout doesn’t look nearly as cool as it could with all the correct meta-data and album art. So, to have an iPod is to manage a digital music collection. Now, a person who might not see this as a deal-breaker is a DJ. Most DJs work with equipment that usually calls for having music files, therefore DJs are already managing a digital music collection. It's not much to take that pruned, prim and proper collection and throw it onto an iPod. Well, iPods don’t play FLAC files, so there’s a minor annoyance but that does have a work-around. Having and managing a music collection is something that has fallen by the wayside for many people, and with good reason. It’s time consuming and even annoying. It’s way more convenient and cheaper to just log into your favorite streaming service and listen to whatever you want whenever you want and save your time doing something else. Your phone or tablet also has the convenience of Bluetooth™ technology which iPods don’t have.
The last thing is more of something I haven’t thought too deeply about but kinda figure is relevant since we’re living in a world where so much data is being generated by our online activities. If I don’t predominantly stream music online I wonder what my data says about my music tastes? I imagine there’s a big gap in my data file between the LED light ads and the commercials for dish detergent where my music taste would be (as if my phone isn’t secretly listening in ><). I guess it’s cool that there's a part of me that I’m not willing to hand over to the data farmers. But on the flip side I wonder if I’m missing out of stuff because I’m withholding this data. For example, I strive to stay on top of tour dates for my favorite bands, but what if I’m missing out on specialized ads, ads that will keep me informed on when other groups and musical acts come to town? As a music fan that would certainly be a big help to me. But, I don’t know, do regular users of Tidal and Spotify receive ads for bands and relevant music in their social media ads? I certainly don’t see any in my feeds. I guess my musical tastes will be one less thing our digital overlords have on my file.
As I said, I love my iPod, but if any of the above sounds undesirable then perhaps a revamped iPod just isn’t for you. I didn’t even bring up the fact that it’ll be one more device to keep track of and charge every once in a while, as if you have enough devices already. Plus, you’ll need an auxiliary cable and port to hook it up in the car or to a speaker. Just stick with what’s easy and convenient. That’s the point of technology, after all.