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Tuesday, May 04, 2004

iTunes upgrade

My, my, my - haven't I been slack? I feel like I should be making excuses here, but I don't have any adequate ones I'm afraid!

However, I did download and install the latest version of Apple's iTunes last week. I have to admit to becoming very interested in how this once straightforward software is evolving into an interesting product.

I've also been marvelling at the ingenuity of many individuals at work. The shared music library in iTunes is one of those really straightforward ideas that on a large scale LAN, suddenly comes into its own. On a daily basis, there are new 'libraries' appearing online that I can browse. These are the music collections of individuals all across the organisation, whose identities I do not know. It's interesting how something as intimate and personal as your music collection can, if you wish, be shared whilst you yourself, can remain anonymous.

Around the time that this sharing started to become a more common aspect of the iTunes experience, I started wondering why there wasn't some kind of IM client built in. There are so many unknown individuals on the network whose music I can browse and play, yet I can't communicate with them.

Funnily enough, as a consequence of the upgrade (and the rather sneaky sharing limitations that Apple built into it) I saw user's initiative demonstrate that I wasn't alone in this need - users want to communicate! Put simply, the early adopters amongst us were disconnected from those running the earlier version. We could still see one another, but could no longer share music with users of prior versions.

Within hours, those of us who had upgraded started editing the name of our shared libraries so that rather than giving a name or alias, they now made a statement. So 'Paul's Music' became 'Early adopter Paul(who upgraded to 4.5 too soon)'s music.' Another user simply became 'Everyone upgade to 4.5 now' and so on.

Very shortly after, user names became questions, and subsequently, answers. I found this user behaviour fascinating - not least because it clearly demonstrated that my own thoughts on inter-user interaction were not isolated.

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