iPod 2001 still going

I celebrated the tenth anniversary of the original iPod.

The initial iPod was released on October 23, 2001. I’m pleased to note that mine is still going strong 14 years later. It’s funny now to look back and remember that I was absolutely sure I’d never be able to fill up five gigs with just music, or as Apple put it “1000 songs in your pocket.”

I used my first iPod a lot for just listening to music, especially on the bus or working in the library, but I also used it for teaching. The fact that I could mount it as a drive via FireWire meant I could show students short film clips of plays or play audio files via the lecture hall’s sound system or workstation.

Now, I have music on my iPhone, but not so much as I used to; I’m streaming a lot more via local WiFi. Instead, that storage that might have been used for music is now being used for photos and ebooks.

I predicted that we’d be reading ebooks more; I missed entirely how much we’d be taking photos with our phone—though I used the cameras a lot on my iPhone 1 and 3, I mostly used them to take pictures of things I couldn’t see well, like street signs or small text on boxes. Now, I’m using the iPhone 5 camera more than my dedicated camera—and it’s changed the way I take pictures.

No, I’m not taking selfies, but I am taking a lot more spontaneous shotsbecause the iPhone is right there, and I’m still using the iPhone camera as a visual aid, even though new plastics have made distance and close reading glasses possible for me. But I’m sending friends and families more photos than I ever did before—and seeing more in response, too.

Tenth Anniversary of the Original iPod

First generation Apple iPod

First generation Apple iPodMy original 5 gig iPod, purchased in November of 2001, still boots, still charges, and still works. October 23 was the anniversary of the initial announcement regarding the then new iPod, and while mine still works pretty much as well as it did in 2001 (the battery is not what it was), I subsequently became a delighted owner of first a first generation iPhone (now, sadly, with a damaged sleep/power button) and then, an iPod Classic, and, last January, an iPhone 3gs.

But it’s been interesting to look back via this Macworld piece on The Birth of the iPod, and to look back at the pundits’ initial takes on the first iPod via a companion piece on The iPod: What They Said.

I started using my first iPod at first to store music, and then to sync data. It wasn’t long at all before it became an essential teaching tool for me, as I noted in this blog post from 2004 written in response to a piece in The Chronicle of Higher Education about the Duke iPod project.

I note for the curious, that The Chronicle is still usually hopelessly inane regarding teaching with technology, despite their recent harried push at becoming cool with respect to instructional technology.

Duke and iPods

You’ve probably heard about Duke University giving its incoming freshman each a 20 gig iPod, a Belkin Voice Recorder and a fifteen dollar gift certificate to the iTunes store. If not you can read about it here, here, and here.

The Chronicle of Higher Education has a series of articles about the iPods and Duke and a discussion forum where they ask

Are the purchases of gadgets driven by educational reasons, or are they marketing ploys—or both? Do colleges compete in offering the next must-have gizmos for their students? What is the best way to evaluate and purchase useful electronic devices?

If you persevere and read the entire discussion, you’ll notice, as I did, a certain hostility towards other discussants (if these people were posting in a discussion I moderated, we’d have a conversation about civility and online etiquette). You’ll also likely be struck by the references to iPods as “toys,” a reference that the Chronicle makes in the initial query. I find it a little difficult to see a 20 GB iPod that costs around $300.00 a “toy.” I supposes that’s my middle-class New England frugality speaking. But I also find it odd that something so useful is regarded as a “toy.” I see the iPod as an example of Shaker design in digital technology. It is beautiful as well as practical. I’ve got one of the original 5 gig iPods, and I’ve used it well, and continue to find it useful and enjoyable. Sure, I have lots of music on my iPod. But I also have my d*ss*rt*t**n files, including scans of the manuscripts, my bibliography and other related files. I used my iPod daily when I taught, keeping class and course materials on it, but also, using the iPod to play back audio files, to store image and video files, and to transfer files to and from computers on campus. I’ve posted an edited version of my Chronicle Colloquy response below.

It would have been even better if Duke had also given faculty and T.A.s iPods. They’re wonderful assets for teaching and learning. I use mine fairly often, and I’ll list some of the ways I use it in teaching, and some that Duke could take advantage of. Remember that the iPod not only plays and records audio files, it’s also a FireWire/USB hard drive, with some ability to display text, and function as a calendar and alarm clock.

  1. Backup—I have a portable easy to connect and fast way of backing up everything, including the class web site, I use for a class. Students could easily do this too. It’s fairly easy to store addresses, for instance, or class rosters, as files that display on the iPod screen.
  2. File transfer—you can use the iPod to carry data to place on a server, whether it’s a handout, a QuickTime movie, an MP3 file, a homework assignment, or a Powerpoint (if you really must use Powerpoint) presentation.
  3. Music and audio or video files to use as “authentic” language materials, for language classes. In my case I have examples of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Beowulf, Chaucer, Middle English lyrics, and other poetry being read aloud. I also have short audio excerpts and QuickTime excerpts, some of them annotated with captions, for comparing and discussing Shakespeare performances. I can easily connect the iPod to a Mac or Windows computer and the iPod is perceived as an external hard drive. All I have to do is carry the iPod and a Firewire cable in my pocket. I’ve even played audio files through a video monitor using a standard stereo RCA to mini jack cable, connected to the iPod’s headphone jack.
  4. Create slide shows using digital images (on the Mac this is easily done with iPhoto and iMovie, but there are good programs for Windows users too). The iPod is much easier to connect to a built-in digital projection system with its own computer, or you can connect it to any computer that has FireWire or even, especially on Windows, USB. You can even make your slides available for students on their iPods. Why not include brief comments, either as textual annotations or record the audio?
  5. Distribute handouts, syllabi, Powerpoint files, .html files, .pdf files and even e-books on the iPod or make them available in easily downloaded archives from the web so that students have all the class materials in a portable storage device. This is particularly effective if you have materials either in compressed archives or pre-loaded.
  6. Allow students to record lectures for later review. They can concentrate on understanding during the lecture, and take notes later.
  7. The uses in musicology, composition and music history classes are pretty obvious. But think about pre-loading annotated files, either as QuickTime or as web pages, as guides to annotating and understanding the music.
  8. Take advantage of the many free tools for reading text files on an iPod.
  9. Use the Solitaire game to explain the statistics behind the game.
  10. Distribute calendars using the “iCalendar” standard, supported by Mozilla’s Calendar project and by Apple’s iCal.

There are lots and lots of other uses, but these are some that occur off the top of my head. And no, I’m not paid any extra for teaching with digital technology, but neither am I paid less for using the overhead projector or the blackboard. Frankly, as a T.A. I’m likely lucky to be paid at all, in the current economic climate. Use the technology that works for you and your students, and it’s OK if you and they enjoy it.

Like Jeffrey Feldman, a participant in the forum, I suspect, rather strongly, that part of the reason behind the iPod giveaway is the thought that the iPod and iTunes and Apple’s iTunes Music store will encourage legal MP3 purchases and ripping from legal CDs. No doubt you’ve noticed schools signing agreements with Napster and other services and even iTunes has a campus program.

It’s Not Dirty, and It’s Not a Secret

Despite the apparent media frenzy about iPod battery life and the Neistat brother’s web site about their battery woes, my iPod is doing fine, thanks. My spouse and I bought each other original 5 gig iPods for our wedding anniversaries back in November of 2001. We’re both still using them regularly. My iPod is good for about six hours before it needs charging, less than when it was new, but it’s had a lot of use in the more than two years I’ve had it. I back up files to it, connect it to our stereo, use in teaching, and when I walk around town, or campus, or ride the bus. You’d think, given the media’s foaming at the mouth-and-rubbing-their-hands-with glee that everybody was unhappy.

I also find it more than a little distressing that no one seems worried that the QuickTime movies at their site show the Neistat brothers vandalizing some rather expensive bill boards. I sympathize with their dismay about their batteries, and, apparently Apple did too, since it offered both a battery replacement service and AppleCare for iPods, before the Neistat’s contacted Apple. Vandalism is not acceptable, no matter how angry one might be; it’s still wanton destruction. Much better to follow Apple’s iPod battery careand use tips, and use the information in this well written iPod battery FAQ.