Making Life Easy

Making Life Easy

With the proliferation of digital content and devices you'd think that we'd all be in control freak Nirvana - a place where we can access any content anytime, anywhere and...

Piers Fawkes, PSFK
  • 16 june 2005

With the proliferation of digital content and devices you’d think that we’d all be in control freak Nirvana – a place where we can access any content anytime, anywhere and anyway we want it: tunes reflecting our mood broadcast wirelessly, TV providing that latest reality through our monitors, multiple controls for the ambiance of our tiny apartment.

Whilst electronic manufacturers seem to forge ahead to create a myriad of devices, options and formats there are signs of a counter-revolution. Sprouting up through the cracks in our polished white devices are services designed to make life easy: little helpers to let you get on with your busy life.

One of the strongest signals of this counter revolution is the current nostalgia for the mixtape (and the subsequent 2005 versions available through the web). You can’t open a low quantity, high quality hipster magazine without a writer recounting their memories of a time where they made, borrowed and bought mixes of the latest tunes on cassette. There are reminders of mixtape cutlure everywhere – even Beck’s wearing a T Shirt emblazoned with a cassette in this month’s Wired!

Mixtapes were (and still are) collections of tunes that people connected to, tunes that created sub-cultures: electro-freaks, suburban hip-hop aspirers, dub dancefloor shufflers. A time where people used music to create individual identities through the work of others. Thurston Moore has just published a book on the subject that "takes a nostalgic look at that most humble vehicle of adolescent expression."

Now, we have almost immediate access to any digital content any time, do we really want to be making the decisions for ourselves? We’ve got enough to do – we want to make life easy. We want to flick a single switch to control all our in-home lighting – not have a console that slips down the back of our sofa.

Today we see websites offering modern versions of mixtapes – we know of a couple of underground sites run by music professional that offers CDs on a monthly basis. Tiny Mix Tapes offers iTune lists along certain themes. PSFK has also learned of one Canadian start up that plans to create a system that analyzes your music library and creates song selections each day.

‘Making Life Easy’ doesn’t stop with music. is a Singapore-based company that offers an application to help you create edited movie files on your PC or phone. You just give their application a number of clips, some music and then the app uses reprogrammed algorithms to combine and edit the clips and blast out a ten second clip. It works so well, Nokia is using it in their phones.

And yes, digital technology has sprouted this phenomenon of the hyper-user – people who take existing content and mash it up to create something new. But some of us would like to use their mash ups rather than create them ourselves. Don’t get me wrong, Making Life Easy is not about being lazy. It’s about making an informed choice. And it’s not for late-adopters either. It’s for early adopters, folk who fall into Godin’s definition of the Digital Digerati. You need to know what you get from technology before you decide to delegate. 

It’s happening everywhere for everything – even you are ‘Making Life Easy’ right now … why do you think you’re reading PSFK rather than researching this yourself? ;)


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