Thoughts / In the reign of the digital ‘A’ / January 13, 2007

I’ve been using computers since I can remember (and perhaps most of you have too). I’ve had an iPod for more than three years and I’ve used many cellphones throughout the last 7 years or so.

And I have come to realise it pays for your name to start with an ‘A’. Very much. Too much.

In the digital world, if you’re an ‘A’, you’re top of the crowd. You stand out. You made it to the top, boy! You’re among the elite that has always the first screen real estate in any list. Why? Because digital still arranges everything alphabetically by default for the most.

I think even the music groups I don’t blindly succumb to that don’t start with an ‘A’ (or even an ‘F’ for that matter) have less chance to be listened repeatedly by me when I start looking for something new in my alphabetically-organised iPod artists list, just because those are the first I see every single time I browse my iPod. If you’re not an ‘A’ band, then you might have an ‘A’ album, and you bet I’ve seen you a thousand times.

Digital is not that young anymore. It’s a 30-something already. Perhaps it is time for digital to start looking for other ways to organise information. I like Spotlight search (and all search) since it cares for ‘M’ as much as for ‘B’. I like organising pictures by date, so I don’t always get ‘Aunt Sally’ the first. I like putting brackets, dots, underscores and asterisks at the beginning of my perferred playlist name in iTunes, so I can feel I own my music realm and its ordering.

Perhaps digital ordering is where digital democracy should start.