Electronic Bias

How people perceive things, leads to bias in perception. The majority of the time i spend listening to music nowadays is in compressed formats: I use streaming services, such as Spotify, Soundcloud and LastFM. I listen to compressed music on an MP3 device, because I like a range of music to listen to an the go.

I am wondering how much this is actually leading to bias in what music i listen to. Recently I have found myself listening to a lot of electronic music, music generated on computers. Electronic music, with it’s simpler waveforms, suffers less from compression than music from analogue sources, it loses less of it’s power and nuance after compression. So, digital music is of higher quality after compression than analogue music. I do generally prefer richer higher quality music, so it makes sense that my preferences are bias by this mode of listening. It is not just me, as increasingly people listen to music in this way.  HQ (high quality) is becoming the preserve of dedicated listening, rather than the norm.

This also applies to vocals. The nuances of timbre and character of voices is lost in compression. So, people learn to listen to new music without as much focus on these qualities, other facets of the music become more important. It can be postulated that really good singers will suffer relative to good producers. Indeed production is becoming bias in favour of sounds that suffer less from compression. It means that musicianship becomes less important as artists are dismissed before listeners have the oppurtunity to listen to there skills and talents.

An increasing reliance on portable devices is a retrograde step, for the trade of of access to a wide range of music instantly via the internet.

As humans, we all suffer from bias, it takes time and energy to keep our minds open, in a world that offers us less time and energy to do it in. People are prejudiced in so many ways:

People get ideas stuck in our own heads, subjecting them to all the bias of our mental experience of life, not allowing us to objectively view ideas outside of our heads. Being able to express ourselves, to put thoughts to paper/ screens, enables us to view ideas outside of the bias of how we a re feeling at a particular moment. However, if we do this online, increasingly those thoughts come back through internet algorithms to affect us.

We are prejudiced by our families, the communities we grew up in and live in, the communities we become members of, our choices of media sources. It is so important to get away from these sources of bias and see things in a more open objective way.

We are prejudiced by the internet, of receiving more of our data about the world via a screen and headphones. Indeed this bias is getting worse as the internet and indeed society is increasingly monetarised and thus more biased. In the U.S. there is currently a debate about allowing internet providers to charge for bandwidth, slowing down access to smaller websites, decreasing choice and increasing bias . As the internet takes over more of our lives, alternative sources of data are disappearing, which decreases choice.

It seems that there are reduced opportunities to learn how to keep out minds open and be objective about our data sources.

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