IPod: Music to Hackers' Ears"Jean-Olivier

IPod: Music to Hackers’ Ears

“Jean-Olivier Lanctôt-David is a 14-year-old hacker who has figured out a way to display online news headlines on Apple’s iPod digital music player.

Lanctôt-David, who has been using Macs since he was 4 and programming since he was 11, was given an iPod for Christmas and immediately wanted to make it do more than just play music.

So he whipped up PodNews, a program that fetches headlines from the Web in XML format and displays them on the iPod’s small screen.

In the last few months, hackers have figured out clever ways to store not only names and addresses on the iPod but calendar items, song lyrics and even phrases in foreign languages.

The iPod, which must be the hottest gadget on the planet, has also been made to work with Windows. It’s supposed to be Mac-only, but EphPod is a free program that allows iPods to connect to Windows machines; Mediafour’s Xplay, currently in beta, is a commercial program that does the same thing….

Michael Zapp, an instructor at the University of Manitoba in Canada, has created a pair of AppleScript applications that take data from Microsoft’s Entourage (the Macintosh version of Outlook) and transforms it into vCard file format, which can be displayed using the iPod’s new contacts feature.” [Wired News]

This is the kind of impact the NetGens will have on our culture in the future. If you think we’re recycling old ideas and morphing them into something new now (hip hop, the movie Moulin Rouge, any animated Disney movie), then just wait. These kids are much more computer-literate and they’re much more prone to interact directly with their environment.

Everything is two-way for them, whereas most of us are still stuck in one-way. For them television, radio, the internet, books, music – they’re all something from which to get entertainment or information, but they also expect to give back to them, too. Sometimes this is in the form of filtering what is coming out (digital video recorders, recommendation engines), sometimes it’s global discussions (online discussions, instant messaging instead of email), and sometimes it’s creating new distribution channels from old ones in order to do what they want to do (Apple iPod, Gameboys with ebooks on them).

Whatever you give or sell them, they’re going to expect to make it do what they want. Letting them go to town on iPods is an excellent strategy by Apple, although this isn’t anything new for them. Apple understands these kids extremely well. They could try to put a halt to all of this hacking using the DMCA and other laws, but by letting folks hack it instead, they’re letting the community take the iPod to new heights.

This is the point the entertainment industry is missing. Instead of realizing the vast potential of customers who would interact directly with their product to do even more with it (all the while paying for this privilege), they want to lock out the very people that will innovate them to new levels.

I also wanted to highlight this article because I still want to figure out how to automatically generate vCards for events in the SLS Calendar. If you come across anyone doing this (especially if they’re using Oracle or Microsoft Access), please let me know!

[The Shifted Librarian]