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Music to my ears (Byteback November 05)

(This column appears in the November 05 issue of PC Advisor)

Should you ever visit our throbbing command centre, you'll find PCA Towers a very musical place. Slapping on a pair of headphones is about the only way you can drown out the constant chatter of high-minded debate. (You know the sort of thing I mean: AMD v Intel, Mac v PC, Neighbours v Home and Away...)

Recently our valued colleagues from the dark side - sorry, I mean Macworld - have introduced us iPod ingenues to the delights of iTunes. More specifically, we've been sharing music over Apple's software. One click and your entire playlist is available to everybody on the network. And examining your colleagues' aural habits is pretty enlightening.

For example, I won't reveal which of your humble editorial team has a disturbing penchant for 80s pop pap, but if I mention that she's of the female persuasion you might be able to work it out. And what is it that makes reviews writers listen to jazz? Disgusting stuff.

Still, access to more music can only be a good thing, right? Well perhaps. But, as with many technological advances, I wonder whether greater choice is so great. I mean, we now enjoy more mediums of communication than ever before, but do we get more done? Just because I can email, instant message or text a colleague, it doesn't mean we understand each other any better than we did in the old days of using the phone - or even what I like to call the ‘face-to-face interface'.

And just because I can dip into our esteemed editor's extensive ELO collection, it doesn't mean I will. Not more than once, anyway.

Working on this magazine has taught me two things. One: it's not what we can make technology do; it's what we want it to do. Necessity is the mother of invention, and the clever people work out what the punters want then get someone else to do the legwork. Two: never, ever ask an IT journalist to DJ.

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