You plug the USB cable from your car’s sound system into your iPhone. It doesn’t matter what you were listening to before; the car starts playing Rush’s A Passage to Bangkok. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.
Your car hasn’t suddenly developed a love for mid-70s prog rock. What’s happened instead is that the system, faced with all the songs stored in your phone, had to choose which track to play first. Whoever designed the MP3 playlist component of the system decided song name in alphabetical order was the way to go. This is an information architecture failure; nobody listens to their music collection one song at a time in alphabetical order.
Now an enterprising artist and IA hacker named Samir Mezrahi has taken matters into his own hands by releasing a track in iTunes titled A a a a Very Good Song [iTunes link]. For the low low price of $.99 you can download this “song” — which plays 10 minutes of silence — and be guaranteed peace of mind as you traverse iTunes’s hierarchies to select what you actually want to play.
You could be generous and say A a a a a Very Good Song is an homage to Cage’s 4’33” or a Dadaist exercise. But I think of it as a clever hack to a broken information architecture, a workaround that wouldn’t be needed if more designers paid attention to the ways people actually use information structures.
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