If someone’s going to be Big Brother, it might as well be Apple

Rebecca Lang

After a strong recommendation from my roommate, I allowed Apple to run its “Genius” program on my iTunes. It promises that if you “click the Genius button … iTunes creates a playlist of other songs from your library that go great together.”It first got my laptop all noisy and hot by probably running its marketing scalpel through the entire contents of my hard drive, and using its magic witchcraft voodoo (no offense to those who actually practice the occult or voodoo) statistical methods to target me as a specific type of media consumer. Then, it became silent and I knew that it was now omniscient to the goings-on of my iTunes library. I decided to make two trial playlists of songs that “go great together” to bring with me while I walked around the U all day. One was inspired by the track “Peacebone” by Animal Collective, and one was inspired by the song “Helter Skelter” from the Beatles Anthology, a song very beloved by my mom. So here’s what I derived from each: 1. Peacebone: The songs were mostly songs I liked about two years ago. It threw the Collective in with some Saint Vincent, Yeasayer, Andrew Bird, and any other generic indie/alternative/freakfolk blog-o-band and their best selling hits. I think it said in its computer speak, “she likes a weird and marketable song; here are others.” Not too sophisticated. My boyfriend could do better, and he doesn’t claim to be a genius. 2. Helter Skelter: This playlist was just ridiculous. Pink Floyd, “Purple Haze” by Jimi Hendrix, a couple basic Doors tracks were mixed with a couple foot-in-the-world-of-alternative bands like Radiohead. Choosing a Beatles song probably just pegged me as the wide demographic of “high school stoner,”meaning that I was rebelling slightly by liking classic rock instead of whatever’s on MTV. My consensus: Genius needs to be a bit less transparent.