To get around a noise curfew, organizer’s of the Glastonbury music festival in the UK are organizing a ‘Silent Disco’. They will be handing out wireless headsets that are connected to the stereo system. The headsets will have bass, treble, and volume controls, and will be handed out in the dance tent only after the main music curfew (12:30 AM).This is the first I’ve heard of this kind of thing, though the article suggests that it has been done before in the Netherlands. This is exactly like a Sony commercial from a couple years back for their MD players, featuring a blue alien named Plato. In the commercial, a couple police officers walk on to a beach filled with dancing teens. Plato is up on a lifeguard tower, DJ’ing the silent rave. As the cops walk through the crowd looking very confused, a girl pulls an earbud from her ear and passes it over to one of the cops. He puts it in his ear, the music kicks in, and he nods and smiles in understanding… So now this is reality, and potentially something that could become increasingly common. What does this mean for social interaction? This is obviously a very clever solution to a real problem for the Glastonbury organizer’s. On the other hand, though the participants would be physically co-located, their experience is virtually mediated. How do they know they are listening to the same thing? Trust, and by gauging eachothers reactive movements (i.e. dancing) to the music they are listening to. (It would really be fun to try piping in different music to all the different listeners) In a sense, all of these kids could just as well stay at home and listen to the music streamed to their home PC (or radio, remember those?). Of course, these kids would prefer, like most of us, to be physically surrounded and connected with others. But, just because we’re gathered in the same location, are we having the same experience? Maybe the iPod generation will tire of isolating themselves completely in their music. How soon until a completely democratized party whereby everyone gathered brings their iPod and DJ’s their own evening to their individual taste? Neighboring islands sharing and seperated by the sea.