Newsweek Delves Into the Great iPod Shuffle Mystery

Newsweek reporter Steven Levy has written an opinion about one of the great mysteries of our time: Is the iPodis shuffle feature truly random? The piece is, of course, tongue-in-cheek, but serves to offer the iPod yet more mainstream press.

Mr. Levy had noticed in the past patterns in the songs chosen by his iPod when he had playbnack set to shuffle.

"It had a particular fondness for Steely Dan," wrote Mr. Levy "whose songs always seemed to pop up two or three times in the first hour of play. Other songs seemed to be exiled to a forgotten corner of the disk drive. Months after I bought "Wild Thing" from the iTunes store, Iim still waiting for my iPod to cue it up."

Mr. Levy found these kinds of patterns so common over the years that he went so far as to ask Apple CEO Steve Jobs about it in an interview. According to Mr. Levy, Steve Jobs called an iPod engineer to check on the issue, and was assured that the shuffle feature is, indeed, random.

Mr. Levy later asked Apple vice president Greg Joswiak the same thing, and he, too, was assured by engineers that "random is random."

Finally, Mr. Levy turned to a mathematics professor for the answer, who explained that in the grand scheme of things truly random events often seem to have patterns that are nothing more than coincidence.

For more on this burning issue, including much more detail from the math professor, read Mr. Levyis interesting editorial.