Amazon’s AutoRip

There is an article in the Guardian online about Amazon’s AutoRip feature. It raises a series of questions about the use of data that is captured about our music listening and how this may shape consumer activity. It also raises some interesting points about how this particular feature feeds into questions about the materiality of cultural objects. The questions of course relate to the separation of physical and virtual objects in music consumption. I’ve been covering this with my students this week. We’ve been using Walter Benjamin, Daniel Miller, Sherry Turkle and Marjorie Kibby’s work to try to think through the importance of the material properties of objects. We’ve also been thinking about how these relations change as the nature of these objects change. What we found was that there is quite a complex interweaving of different types of cultural objects being use. What the AutoRip example shows is how complex the interweaving of different forms of materiality now is. I don’t think anyone has really managed to get at the details of these changes so far.

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