The Affordances of the Flash-based MP3 By Pete Santis Most people in today’s society are always looking for technologies and devices that will make their lives easier. In the realm of audio-based media technologies, people are looking for the device that provides the best sound quality, is the least burdensome, and functions without failure. Currently, the devices known as MP3 players are dominating the market because, as a whole, they provide what society is looking for. There are many different models of MP3, and each one has its own affordances. For example, the Hard-drive based model is the most popular MP3 because of its ability to hold thousands of songs. However, the flash based MP3 has more practical affordances that go above and beyond those granted by the hard drive model. Moving parts refers to any kind of generator or hard drive or device that needs to spin or move in any way. A device that does not have moving parts will require less power than one with moving parts. This is due to the fact that any mechanical motion requires energy, so no required motion means: no required power for motion. The tradeoff with this increase in battery life is a smaller memory capacity, due to the limitations of current technology. However, devices that depend on moving parts can only properly function if those parts are moving consistently; any sudden change to the spin of those parts, caused by significant physical motion, will result in fluctuations in the device’s overall performance. For MP3s with moving parts, this means that any physical jostling will cause the music to skip. A flash-based MP3 is the model type that has no moving parts. Sources state that it is the smallest MP3 available, doesn’t skip when jostled, and, generally, has the longest battery life. Hard drive-based MP3s have moving parts. It is reported to have the largest memory capacity, an internalized rechargeable, and irreplaceable, battery, and to be the largest MP3. Hard drive model MP3s are also the ones most advertised on television, like the iPods. Without moving parts, the Flash-based model is the most beneficial of any MP3. It is the least burdensome because of its longer battery life, replaceable battery, and small size. The same reason that causes the Flash MP3 to be the least burdensome also makes it able to function without failing. The technology that allows the Flash-based MP3 to function without moving parts could be put to better use by improving the energy efficiency of many other electrical devices and, therefore, reduce energy consumption, minimize damage to the environment, and save people lots of money. Not having moving parts has made the Flash-based model the least burdensome type of MP3 because of its longer battery life, replaceable battery, and small size. The Flash-based MP3 model is able to stay small and can be comfortably carried in someone’s hand; this is because it does not require a large hard drive. For the same reason, it does not need its own special, internal power source and can function off of commonly available batteries. This means that it only takes a quick battery swap for someone to keep listening to their music. Also, hard drives require a great deal of power to stay running, and , by not having one, Flash MP3s are not wasting battery power to maintain a running hard drive. These affordances make the Flash-based MP3 both easier to handle and maintain than an MP3 with moving parts, and, because all other MP3 models have moving parts, Flash-based MP3s are, therefore, the least burdensome type of MP3. The flash-based MP3 is able to perform smoothly and continuously during any physical activity. Experiments with a Hard drive-based MP3 have shown that even very minute jostling caused by walking will cause the music to skip. As previously mentioned, this is caused by the effect the movement has on the moving parts within the MP3. If someone were to go running with such an MP3, the music would skip much more frequently to the point where the music is no longer pleasurable. This susceptibility to shock, therefore, makes hard drive, micro hard drive, and MP3 CD player MP3s unsuitable for people who enjoy listening to music while doing physical activities. However, Flash-based MP3 models do not have moving parts. If they do not have moving parts, they must, therefore, be free from the limitations of moving parts, which they are. This ‘shockproof operation’, as it is called, allows anyone to do whatever they physically wish, literally, and still listen to their favorite music at the same time without causing it to skip. Because it is able to function during any physical activity where other models fail, the Flash-based MP3, therefore, has better performing capabilities than any other MP3. Furthermore, since there are no moving parts to interrupt, the Flash- based MP3 is the only MP3 able to function without failure. Many adherents to the popularized Hard drive-based models are attracted to it because of its larger memory capacity. It is stated fact by many product reviews that Hard drive-based MP3 models have the largest memory capacity. For example, a 60 gigabyte iPod has the capacity to hold tens of thousands of MP3 songs. However, there is a question of the necessity for such a storage capacity. It is temporally impossible to listen to that many songs in a day; forty songs of average length will play for over 2 hours. Although the Flash-based MP3 is currently able to hold, at most, a few hundred songs, that is more than enough to last through a lengthy plane ride, mountain climb, or any leisurely, traveling, or work-related activity. Its affordance of shock proof operation will, also, allow it to play music in situations that hard drive models struggle to perform. There are also continuous advances being made in memory storage technologies that will eventually make the Flash MP3’s smaller memory capacity a moot point. Supporters of Hard Drive models will claim that the battery life od a hard drive model is very excellent in itself. This is also true. For example, a newly purchased iPod, when newly purchased, is able to run for 14 hours before its internal battery needs to be recharged. This in itself is a very astounding feat brought by our recent technological advances. However, the internal battery will run out of power before the MP3 even plays 300 music files, and it will then have to be recharged for over two hours. There is also the fact that, like other batteries, the hard drive MP3’s internal battery will exponentially lose its potential and expire after only several months of use; the cost of replacing the battery is greater than buying a new MP3 altogether. It would be so much simpler for the consumer if hard drive models functioned off of replaceable, conventional batteries, but they do not and are, therefore, more burdensome than a flash-based MP3, which can function off of such resources. There is great potential in the technology that allows Flash-based MP3s to function without moving parts that will benefit the society economically and environmentally. Such technology, if invested, will lead to greater energy efficiency, and, as an effect, less energy will be required to power electronic devices. This being achieved, people in society will no longer have to spend as much money for their electricity. The same affordance will decrease our use of polluting energy resources, such as fossil fuels and batteries, and decrease the levels of resulting green house gases, acid rain, and other environmental hazards. As a result, the environment will become much cleaner, which benefits everyone. Technologies that overly depend on moving parts cost more energy, and money, to maintain and continually add pollutants that are harmful to humans, and animals, to the environment. Anyone in our society who wishes to protect the environment or just save money can invest in this technology and immediately benefit from its affordances and aid in its continued research.