Shuffling through the Old Town
This compilation by Jen Ross takes a different approach to what we have already seen (and heard) within Elektronisches Lernen Muzik. Up to this point we have normally invited individuals to nominate tracks that correspond with their learning experiences. On this occassion however, we move from reflection to action, with a 'live playlist' created in response to a walking seminar through Edinburgh's Old Town. Jen picks up the story:
Soon after the walk Jen used Google maps and Spotify to situate each music track within its corresponding location in the Old Town. The interactive map below traces the meandering route followed by Jen and her fellow participants during the walking seminar, whilst linking to the nominated songs that were triggered by the encountered sights and other experiences.
The way that Jen's playlist came together provokes interesting questions about the relationship between music, listener/learner and digital technology. The way that serendipity sparked the initial idea evokes a sociomaterial sensibility where learning is understood to be a sometimes disparate gathering of temporal, spatial, technological and human agencies (see for instance Fenwick, Edwards & Sawchuk 2011). Meanwhile, Jen alludes to the possibility that the compilation of songs is shaped by the complex algorithm hidden behind the slick interface of Spotify and other sophisticated applications (Edwards & Carmichael 2012). What is also hard to attribute is how those songs suggested by Spotify in turn affected the rhythm and interest of the walk? To what extent did the range of available music and the speed with which it could be streamed affect how the city was experienced and understood by Jen and her co-walkers?
Put a playlist on shuffle and it does more than change the way you walk.
Dr Jen Ross is a Senior Lecturer in Digital Education at The University of Edinburgh.
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