Ghosts in the iPod, Dæmons in Google

Everyone knows there are ghosts in the iPod. These are the beings that live deep within the algorithms of the randomise feature. They tap into your thoughts, and play a song for you. The iPod ghosts, they say, will choose the track that suits what you are thinking. The ghosts will look at your reflection in the train window, and the view beyond, and pick a song that fits your mood.
The iPod ghosts do not exist to simply provide a fitting cinematic sound-scape to our lives. They want to talk to us, and tell us stories. They show us connections we have not seen before. The non-believers claim that iPod ghosts are just the bizarre connections you make in your own head, links that give the impression of infeasible coincidence. But any connection you make will be a product of your language, the things you have done, the places you have been, the books you have read. These connections, the iPod ghosts, are our culture, the ramblings of our ancestors trying to tell us something they have already forgotten.
Contrast the iPod ghosts with the Google AdSense dæmons. These are the malevolent creatures that are trapped in a JavaScript world, somewhere between your computer screen and Google Inc’s servers. The dæmons strike when you are at your most vulnerable. They look for important pages, ones that mean something to the author. A cry for help, a gesture of genuine solidarity, a long pondered social comment. The daemons find these pages, and sabotage them with a crass, inappropriate and ill-timed mini-advert.
Trapped in their bland, neutral boxes, the AdSense dæmons are the enemy of sincerity. They take those same thoughts that are incubated by the iPod ghosts, and taint them with a blind, amoral commercialism. Perhaps the connections they make are also our culture, the same ancestors laughing hysterically at what we have become.


Andrew Sullivan has spotted a couple of AdSense daemons plaguing Mickey Kaus’ blog at Slate.
Chicken Yoghurt has sharp eyes, and has spotted an odd juxtaposition of story and advert. John Reid, Knifethrower.

9 Replies to “Ghosts in the iPod, Dæmons in Google”

  1. Well, Bert, I wish you would have said this to me when I was sober, instead of at dinner the other night. I like what you have written, and I think you make an excellent point. I also think the implications of the ipod ghosts could be explored further, although of course, in psychiatric circles, it’s on the continuum of a symptom of schizophrenia and its cousins, commonly known as “delusions of reference”. Personally, I would say there’s no way of knowing whether its an illusion or not, and although I rather like the idea that it’s true, I’m not entirely sure it matters. It’s a philosophical point I suppose; there’s an analogy with the Turing Test. Being a rather spiritual type and somewhat me-centered, I always say the Turing Test is good enough for me.

  2. I have an ipod ghost. My ipod goes off by itself, even when it’s on hold, and only plays the irish punk stuff. I have over 57 bands on my ipod, 3 of them being irish punk bands, and it’ll only play those bands when it goes off. What does this mean???

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