Over the weekend I was in L.A. for a journalism conference and I noticed that the iPod is nearly everywhere: on billboards, in pockets, and even — yes — in vending machines. I took this picture of an iPod vending machine at the Las Vegas Airport, in fact. Is this peculiar to the Southwest? One might think that marketing for Microsoft’s Zune digital media player is more prevalent in the Northwest since Microsoft is based near Seattle, yet nowhere else have I seen that much marketing and availability of digital media player products as I saw in the American Southwest. While maintaining some use-value, the symbolic and sign value of the iPod seems to greatly extend beyond that in order to suggest our social values like dancing, racial acceptance, vibrant youth culture, and ethnic diversity. At least that’s what the ads suggest to me. Yet the whiteness of the iPod is what stands out, and that’s what Apple says is the key to attaining those values.