Discussion Questions #7

Episode 5

Question 1.   What Krukowski means by that question is that the marginal, rejected and repressed is what mainstream culture no longer has a use for.  The powers that be decide what is important, good, tasteful and accepted and those groups are certainly not in those categories.  What he means by his second question is that that maybe the marginal, rejected or repressed are the key to learning, not only about ourselves and society, but to a great many things.  Things which which will be better than what is deemed satisfactory by mainstream culture.  In relation to music, the ideas of the powerful and the marginalized is illustrated with the powerful being popular music and the marginalized being the non mainstream music.

Question 2.  The main differences between the music listening experiences enabled by Forced Exposure and platforms like Spotify is the amount of music each method has and the way in which the music is recommended to the clients.  Forced Exposure has a large but finite amount of music, about 50,000 LP’s, and Spotify has almost the entire catalog of music throughout the world.  Forced Exposure’s owner and employees also have listened, and some have even wrote about, all the songs in their inventory, while Spotify uses algorithms to suggest what type of music a person will like.

Question 3.  The distinctions Krukowski makes between discovering and being surprised by music is that discovering is not at all surprising.  When you discover new music you’re really only hearing new music that is similar to the other types of music you like.  Being surprised by new music is hearing music that is not similar to your already established tastes and instead truly find something new.  This is important to big companies because they don’t want surprising, it increases the chances of you not listening and thus missing out on the opportunity to make you listen to valuable advertising time.

Episode 6

Question 1.  According to Krukowski noise is the background sound and signal is the sound we focus on.  According to the hearing doctor, signal is the sound we are trying to pay attention to and noise is all the other sounds.  It’s important because in the digital world noise is trying to be eliminated while signal is enhanced.

Question 2.  In this episode Krukowski is trying to convey that what we deem as noise is just as important as what we consider signal.  In reality everything is noise until we decide what we want to focus on, and that becomes signal.  The totality of all the sound and not just isolated individual parts is what is important and this is best conveyed in the Beach Boys album Pet Sounds.  All the sounds combined together is what gives the music such beauty, and when they digitally remixed the album it didn’t sound nearly as good.  Krukowski also goes on to relate the importance of noise to everyday life and society as a whole.  Being immersed in the total noise of our surroundings may allow us to find the signals that are important to us and be able to convey those messages to others more effectively, is how he roughly puts it.

Question 3.  The way in which this episode relates to all the others is that the theme of eliminating noise has been present throughout the discussion of digital sound.  The way in which our phones isolate only the “important” parts of our voices to transmit, the elimination of public noise in order to put ourselves in our own sound bubbles, and the way in which digital music eliminates the noise of the content of our music are just a few examples.  Each episode’s topic related to this theme in one way or another while coming to a conclusion that noise is just as important as the signal because that is the totality of the world.  The reality of our world is not just the things we like, know or want to know, it is everything, the noise and the signal.  Because in the end everything is noise.