According to Shubei Hosakawa’s definition of the ‘Walkman effect’, music plays through headphones would make a better environment for the listeners to be able to gain more control for themselves. (Hosokawa, 1984, pp. 165-180) The first ‘Walkman’ was produced in 1979 by Sony. It sold out of its entire stock of 30 thousand units within the first three months when it published in Japan. The idea of the ‘Walkman’ was coming up by the Sony co-founder Masaru Ibuka who wanted to be able to listen to music on a long flight. (Ibid.) This essay will analyse, explain and give examples for the differences between a ‘Walkman effect’ and an ‘iPod effect’ and ‘iPhone effect’.
How does a ‘Walkman’ work to make the listeners gain more control for a better environment while they are using it? ‘Walkman’ designed in a basic feature which is very common and that is how we used nowadays, such functions as play, pause, rewind, fast forward, record and stop. (Williams, 2004, pp.31-37) And it worked with a cassette player. The designer Ibuka was mainly focused on making a better sound quality through the headphones instead of the speaker which it used to be a trend before the ‘Walkman’ came out. (Hosokawa, 1984, pp. 165-180) The Walkman was surprisingly simple, did not even prepare for a digital player. That is why the ‘Walkman effect’ happened since then because of the headphones only.
Some people think that the recorded music is a shield for those people to get away of the noisy surrounding sounds for a bit and just focused on themselves. (Williams, 2004, pp.60-75) A violinist Aaron described his listening practices through the ‘Walkman’ in an interview:
It [the Walkman] forces you to concentrate on what you are listening to a bit more. It is right in your ears. I use it if I am preparing new works, reading the score as I am listening. Before I go to bed one of my favourite pastimes is to choose a CD or a particular piece that I am interested in listening to in depth with no outside stimulus at all, turn off the lights, lie down and basically have just the sound. There is no other distraction and I find that I get a lot out of that.’’ (Ibid.)
Aaron used this method to block out the sounds from the outside world which is the sound that he unwanted them, in order to pay more attention to do his own thing while he was able to concentrate on the music more. Lorrin who is a principle, she felt the same way as Aaron, she recounted, she always put her headphones in with the music on when she is trying to use her computer to work, and she would play those songs which she is familiar and very loud. She feels like she is more productive while she tries to be concentrated. Because she would not hear any other convocations are going on in the office and so on. At the same time, the brain would cut out all the distractions just because the ears could not hear anything else apart from the music, thus the eyes would not follow any other stuff that could make the person focus on one thing and be productive. (Williams, 2004, p.61)
Sean Cubitt who is a professor of Film and Television and a journalist and a writer has been published a book Digital Aesthetics which has some comments about the features of recording music, he claimed, ‘‘Recording is a way of controlling the soundscape so that it will always conform to an already catalogued expectation, magically confirming our desire to hear with the desired sound.’’ (Cubitt, 1998, p.100) There is a feature of recorded music which is the same every time for the listener when the music played, the listeners would know exactly what they going to hear in the next part and would not expect anything else other than the original recorded, that is part of the reason why some live music is unreal. Therefore, the predictable ability helps the listeners to gain more control of a better environment for themselves which means this is a certain part of the recorded music. (William, 2004, p.66) That refers to Lorrin and Aaron how they listen to music which has mentioned before. Roger Sessions has a same thought as Cubitt, he thinks that the recorded music is a bad idea that make music became pointless as in every recorded music would have the same mistake when the listeners hear it repeatedly. (Sessions, 1971, pp.70-71) In the order hand, the listeners have more individual space for themselves and could immerse themselves in their own world for a while from this noisy messy world.
However, Bull found out the Walkman effect did not let the social collective disappear, people would still hang out together and being social. (Bull, 2000, p.38) Yes, the Walkman could block some environmental noises while people were using it, but it did not block out the whole socialised system completely which is great, yet, should be aware the constantly reminds of the individual power. (Ibid.) According to the literatures and some interviews I have mentioned before, most of the Walkman listeners have different experiences for it, nevertheless, they have a commonality that they all try to use it to block out some noises which they do not want to hear and be concentrated, it means the motivation of these Walkman listeners is usually the people or the sound around them. Bull asserts:
User might be aiming to block out any external sound that they might otherwise hear in the street or elsewhere. The intrusion of any collection of aural sounds located within space is unwanted. They aim, through use, to replace the involuntary auditory sounds experienced in public space by their own personal soundscape placed directly between their ears. (Bull, 2000, p.186)
Thus, using headphones to listen to music is a better equipped than any other ways to listen to music, the Walkman did it and it is extremely valid as the focus of concentrated.
iPod and iPhone are the products from the Apple company. Apple was founded by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne in 1976 in California. (Rawlinson, 2017) The first iPod and iPhone was released in 2001 and 2007. The similarity of these two products are they both made from the Apple Inc, both can access photos, videos, games, contact information, calendars and so on. The biggest selling point for iPod was it has a large capacity for music which is up to 1″,000 songs. Although iPod and iPhone have been upgraded by so many generations through these years, these two products are still having the similarity. The differences between iPod and iPhone might be just the cost and some techniques in different size, overall, they both are basically the same product. (Ibid.) Compare to the Walkman, iPod and iPhone have more functions to entertain and more options for the users, rather than just with music which is the only option for the Walkman.
‘’1000 songs can be storage in an iPod.’’ This is the promotion of iPod when it had introduced by Apple Inc. and the number of the storage drive everyone crazy back in those days, it was incredible while nobody had experienced anything like this instead of to carry those heavy vinyl, cassettes and CD which are extremely easy to get damaged. It was a sparkle during that time. However, Apple Inc. already had a reputation about them for making the products nice but very expensive before they published the iPod, which is the truth. People could not believe the price when they went checked out the iPod, because none of the buyer would think it worth than much compare to its lack of features. Yet, there were still a lot of people brought it since it does what it said, turned out the iPod became a hit. (Porter, 2008) As iPod represented as a portable mp3 player from the topic, it generally adopts the non-volatile storage chip to make the memory at present, the capacity is small, the unit has high costs, and does not adapt to play for a long time. (Ibid.)
According to Ariely and Norton, human is not good at moderating to consumption, but an expert in wasting of money. (2009, pp.475-499) When the masses chasing some article has up to a limit, they would get bored, and required something better and more powerful. Nevertheless, the iPod trend did not last long. There was a spotlight of it when the iPhone came out. People want something more to satisfy themselves. If they could not get what they want, they would get jealous of the others who has the ownership.
There is still another phenomenon of the Apple products buyers which all the products from Apple Inc. are extremely expensive, not everyone can afford that.
‘Keeping up with the Joneses is, like greed, a valuable spur to economic activity’
which can be found in almost every society. Desire is crazy need, it drives one to waste precious life just for vanity or competition with others. Immature consumption and irrational consumption not only bring a heavy financial burden to the family, but also affect their psychology and selfhood. The Apple Inc. might use these human natures and psychological to set a higher price that makes either the consumers or other peers fighting for it. Probably that is why people joke about (or actual did it) to sell their organs to a black market to get the money for an iPhone.
‘iPhone is a revolutionary and magical product that is literally five years ahead of any other mobile phone. It is difficult to understate [the iPhone’s] impact, the ripples it has created affect wide swaths of our lives.’
(Ross Rubin, 2017)
Way back to the late 20th century when the whole world went into the digital century, computer was the main part of people life. Everyone was waiting for the Wi-Fi to connect the internet in patient. Safari which is a application of the Apple product did not exist back in that time. But everything has changed in nowadays. People are connected to the internet all the time, not only on their computer, but also their iPhone. It also made the mobile web browsing useful. People do not even need to access the web browser on their phone but they can just find out everything through the apps. It leads to the mobile app developers. For mobile app developers ‘social media’, the iPhone offers a rich development environment. It brought up the employment rate for the social, also the business in IT technologies.
In accordance with Miller’s (1956, pp.81-97) and Sweller’s (1998″,pp.257-285) research on the basic of basic work on working memory and information processing, numerous studies they have investigated the impact of intelligences and communication technology on thinking. Cognitive overload resulting from attention allocation required by information and communication technologies can aggravate working memory and distraction, making it difficult for individuals to distinguish between relevant and unrelated information. (Klingberg, 2008) Most of the workers check their email in every 5 to 10 minutes. They often switch between tasks, deal with many interruptions and information flows, interfere with their thoughts, waken their memory, increase error tendencies, hinder understanding, and inhibit their ability to think deeply or be concentrated and so on. (Greenfield, 2009, pp.69-71)
In a field study:
it has found out that even in routine activities, such as walking, cell phone users moved more slowly, changed directions more frequently, were less likely to acknowledge other people, and more likely to exhibit ‘‘inattentional blindness’’—lower likelihood of noticing distinctive stimuli in their environment.
(Simons, 2000, pp.147-155)
Mobile communication technology has fundamentally changed the physical environment of social interaction. Mobile devise, such as smartphones, mobile phoes and tablets, are at the heart of the society. The logo of personal networks diverts their attention and directs their ideas beyond other people and the immediate space environment. These senses of division invited by mobile devices may limit social interaction and relationships between people. After social facilitation, which is one of the basic forms of interpersonal influence, we assume that the presence of only one mobile device will raise the level of individual arousal, cause distraction and lead to distraction conflicts. (Zajonc, 1965, pp.269-274)For example, when a person takes out his iPhone in a group, everyone else started to do the same as him, turns out they all stop the convocations or whatever they were doing and just focus on their own phones. This study provides some field experimental evidence that the presence of mobile devices adversely affects face to face interaction characteristics. If participants put mobile devices on their desk or hold them in their hands during a 10 minutes convocation, the quality of the conversation is considered unsatisfactory compared with that without mobile devices. (Gergen, 2010, pp.14-28)
The differences between Walkman and iPod, iPhone is the former only affect the users of their own personal life but the latter changed the entire world, the whole society and people’s views of values and consumption, also affects the future technology industry. As virtual worlds increasingly permeate our physical environment based on places, we must question their impact on our personal and collective lives. As our appetite for technological progress expands, a rigorous review of social psychological and cultural impacts is essential. Intelligent technology offers immediate and sustained possibilities for global communities to share knowledge, contribute ideas, rekindle relationships, enhance support for expression and generate social movements. Universal computing technologies can operate centripetally, in which case communities based on common interests and values can be achieved, rather than centrifugal intelligent technologies. (Meyrowitz, 1985)
• Aaron. 2001. Interview. Adelaide, Australia, October 17.
• Ariely, D. and Norton, M. (2019). Conceptual Consumption. [online] Annual Reviews. Available at: https://www.annualreviews.org/doi/pdf/10.1146/annurev.psych.60.110707.163536 [Accessed 23 Mar. 2019].
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• Lorrin. 2001. Interview. Adelaide, Australia, October 7.
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• Zajonc, R. B. (