Jason J. Gullickson

Jason J. Gullickson

A Hardware Mixtape


I miss the mixtape , and nothing has come along to replace it.

It seems like there should be a digital, electronic online alternative but nothing captures what for me were the most important aspects of the mixtape. I’ve even tried to build them myself, but to no avail.

What makes the mixtape special to me is more than aesthetic. For me it was the most reliable way to discover new music, and share what I’ve found with my friends. Playlists can’t do this, (primarily due to legal reasons), their contents and the even the lists themselves are too proprietary, too ephemeral. A mixtape cassette is universal and durable, but at the same time a scarce, one-of-a-kind piece of art.

So I’ve come up with something new that I think might fit the bill, and I’m curious if others might think so as well.

What I have in mind is a physical digital mixtape. Imagine something the size of a cassette tape that can record 90 minutes of medium-quality (cassette grade) audio. The device has both a microphone and a line-in jack that can be used to record music from any source, and an output jack that can be used to listen to the recording using headphones or, using a standard cable, connect to something larger.

Given the analog nature of the recording, the contents will need to be described (like a traditional mixtape) by writing on the device (directly or on a label), including notes or by simply talking over the recording as it’s made.

While perhaps not quite as inexpensive as a blank tape, the device would be cheap enough that you could buy a few and pass them around. There are off-the- shelf modules that could be used to produce relatively inexpensive prototypes, and if the idea caught-on, a custom design could probably get the cost down to single-digits per unit.

I’m planning on producing a prototype to work out the kinks. If this sounds interesting to you let me know and we can test out the sharing features.