iTunes Weirdness

OK, so I have a smart play list that I call “Random LRP”. Basically, it’s like the party shuffle, except that it limits itself to songs that I haven’t heard in the past two weeks. My library is large enough, that the list is always full at 100 songs.

So, just now, it cued up Stevie Ray Vaughn’s Little Wing immediately after Jimi Hendrix’ version of Little Wing. Now, if it had cued up Sting’s version of the song, I’d have really thought that something was off. Even so, the odds of this happening are really slim.

But, that’s the problem with probability. People do actually win the lottery despite the fact that playing it almost guarantees that you’ll lose in the long run. So, no, I don’t believe that there’s anything cosmically “in tune” with iTunes’ random algorithm. It’s still random. It’s just that randomness often provides interesting surprises.



Currently playing in iTunes: Little Wing by Stevie Ray Vaughan

Comments (4)

  1. It’s apparent that the human brain doesn’t understand probability at all well, not instinctively. Here’s an easy example: Ask most people to draw a random pattern of dots, and they draw a relatively evenly-spaced spray of dots. But really random dots would be like stars in the sky (Milky Way excepted): clumped into patterns in some places, with gaps in others — constellations we can assign meaning and images to.

    Yet there is no real pattern, we just imagine it. It would be a lot harder to explain stars that were evenly distributed across the sky, just as it would be to explain an iTunes playlist that _never_ made interesting congruencies of songs or artists.

  2. Ryan Clark says:

    I often notice that my iPod will play two songs from the same album in a row when it’s on shuffle. I always think to myself, "what a strange coincidence." My library is large (about 15GB), so it doesn’t seem particularly likely. But I guess stuff happens.