A radio format called Jack emerged roughly four years ago. From obscure origins in Winnipeg, Manitoba, the format colonized big swathes of the radio world.
Jack features many more, and more diverse, songs on the play list, a less predictable set of choices, and most interesting, the collision of songs so strange and wonderful, Jack programmers call them “train wrecks.”
In an excellent treatment of the topic, Molahphy notes that “the invention of Jack in 2001–02 coincided perfectly with a far more influential invention, the iPod.” Emerging in very different parts of the music industry, the iPod and Jack gave us the chance to "shuffle." And indeed, it does seem that Jack is particularly cherished for those "train wrecks."
We now have several indicators (mash-ups, etc.) that suggests that we have not just loosed the bonds of genre but that we are now actually actively anti-generic. We want things that were not meant to go together to be brought together. We like to break things open and see what’s inside. We like to cross the currents and see what happens. Everything else is fast becoming a little tedious. When confronted to the typical Hollywood film, something in us wants to scream, "Got it. Move on!" (And I have no doubt that this is one of the reasons Hollywood now faces a downward trend at the box office.)
This is not a novel argument, but I am not sure that we have admitted into evidence the TV remote control. When we are banging away at the remote, it is sometimes because we are searching for something better, or trying to monitor several programs at once. But I think our motives are sometimes of the train wreck variety. We are splicing together several feeds, perhaps, so to create a new, higher level of discourse. The structural properties of this level we haven’t yet began to explore.
Please do read the Molahphy’s post. It really is good.
References and acknowledgments