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Should iPods carry health warnings?

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Competition An Australian head teacher has banned pupils from bringing their iPods into school, because they encourage social isolation. "People were not tuning into other people because they're tuned into themselves," she told the Sydney Morning Herald.

As we noted this week, all kinds of fascinating social possibilities elude the iPodder. Music is a social activity, but the children are only responding to corporate advertising that encourages solipsism - "to shield ourselves," as Oscar Wilde put it, ironically, "from the sordid perils of actual existence".

But there are other solitary pleasures that are bad for us, and nanny governments rarely miss the opportunity to scold us about them.

The EU demands that cigarette manufacturers display excruciatingly personal warnings.

In Brazil, the consequences of smoking are dramatically illustrated, as we see here -

Warning: Fumar Causa Impotencia Sexual

But would this couple even have got as far as the boudoir, if they'd been iPod users? They'd have looked right past each other, and gone home to blog about their near miss, alone.

So we modestly propose that in the interests of consistency, anti-social technology such as the iPod should carry similar health warnings. Reg reader, artist and music activist Mark Splinter has risen to the challenge, with these fine examples.

Warning: iPodding seriously damages your chances of getting laid

Here's a gentler version of the same.

Warning: iPodding is boring for you and those around you

It may seem as if we're picking on Apple, but only because they're first into the breach,. Apple is simply pioneering this ugly trend of de-socializing music, and others are following suit. Apple has gradually disabling the sharing functions from its iTunes.

So the warning could be more specific -

Warning: Songs from iTunes are infected with DRM by major labels

Or personal -

Warning: Steve Jobs wants to be a rock star but is a total and utter geek

Harsh. But not entirely without foundation. We cite as evidence iTunes' "Party Shuffle" feature, a computer algorithm that Apple describes as "The ultimate DJ at any gathering." Oh yeah? Try it. Shuffle's juxtapositions are so clumsy that it will have cleared the room by the time it gets to Song #3. Clearly, the billionaire fruitarian must employ something, or someone, to retain his guests. Because it sure ain't his music.

Technology has been accepted when it helps us do what we already like doing. But technology companies are now determined not only betray their own consumers, but they also betray the potential of the technology for which we pay them. As ever, we're only one piece of paper away from a fix - a trusted, traditional solution - that keeps everyone happy.

Our thanks to Mark who concludes his batch of Health Warnings with this excellent suggestion.

Warning: For help giving up iPodding, call your local music teacher

Got more? Mark has donated the source for these graphics (available on request) - so a prize goes to the best health warnings you can come up with. Load your brushes and masking tools, music lovers. ®

Related stories

Australian school bans iPod
Apple de-socializes iTunes
iTunes store 'hole' open again

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