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iPod classic on shuffle
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Re: iPod classic on shuffle

"The other thing that causes shuffle to look less than random has to do with statistics and probability. Take the instance of a coin flip. While it's not very likely that one person flipping a coin 10 times would get heads every time, it's statistically – and even actually – possible (as illustrated in the opening to Tom Stoppard's "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead"). This is because each coin flip is a distinct event, with probabilities reset each time. The events only look related to humans observing it.

The the last element that causes us to suspect that iTunes Shuffle isn't truly random is our brains. The human brain is wired to seek out and see patterns – sometimes even where they don’t exist. This is an important function of the brain and makes our brains pretty powerful tools, but it can mislead us when examining questions like this.

Ultimately there's no simple answer to whether iTunes' shuffle function is truly random. It's just too deeply influenced by our perception, expectation, iTunes settings, and use. Still, it's fun to see what songs come after each other in iTunes when shuffling and create our own patterns and explanations. "

Jul 08, 2011, 10:55


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