Abdicating choice: The rewards of letting go

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Journal Article
Digital Creativity, 2008, 19 (4), pp. 233 - 243
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Increasingly, people are faced with having to deal with vast amount of digital content. But in some situations, having to choose from such large digital libraries can be unpleasant and even paralysing, especially when people have no strong preference for a particular choice. Digital music listening is an example of such a dilemma. Focusing on Shuffle listening on the iPod, whereby listeners abdicate choice to a system to present content to them randomly, we observe that this mode of abdicating choice not only alleviates the pains of choice but also leads to better user-experience in some circumstances. Randomness is highlighted as a versatile resource. Acting as a device that 'defamiliarises' the digital music tracks, it refreshes and engages listeners' attention as well as shapes their perceptions. In some cases, the use of randomness enriches their listening experience and even encourages encounters with serendipity.
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