I was helping my daughter set up her Ipod touch. The more we got into the process, the more we were amazed (those of you who already have an iPhone or iPod touch…excuse us). Click a song, press “genius” and a new playlist appears…let me check out youtube for the video…web for lyrics, iTunes for other music by this artist…”this is cool, let’s post it on Facebook”(from the iPod), her friend replies…”if you like that, check this out”…you get the idea. All this ON her ipod…a unit the size of a cell phone.
I realize how differently I think about listening to music. It was once a physical object on my shelf. I have a wall of CD’s in my home office (probably 700 to 1000…I started collecting CD’s in 1985). I have a shelf full of old vinyl records that my daughter now uses to decorate her room…we have nothing on which to play them). I was the music geek that read the liner notes inside the big album cover. I was a little bumed about CD’s because the jewel case was not as satisfying as the large album cover (go find the vinyl version of Elton John’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti, or Pink Floyd’s The Wall for example).
Now, my music is not on a shelf…it’s not a physical entity. I’m sitting at my computer…I have over 6400 songs…1,000 albums by 550 artists on my hard-drive. I can find lyrics, tour schedules, reviews, videos, interviews, causes that inspired the music, art…you get the idea. Music is now a multi-sensory experience. I think about it, visualize it differently.
This was a quick ramble. Check out the video below. Give it a chance, and then let me know your thoughts… The video is not merely about the convenience of technology…it’s about thinking differently. Interact with this post…this is not merely a publication…it’s a conversation!
2 thoughts on “Information R/evolution”
I will always remember your sermon where you mentioned your new blackberry “phone”… where it did everything great…except it sucked as a phone. Still a great story. I think what I miss about the old information access process is the organization of information. Like your CD collection, I’d spend hours organizing it by artist, release date, etc. When I got my George Strait box collection, I spent 2 hours on Christmas morning reading the history of his career (so you’re not the only music geek). The one setback in my mind to this easy access to information is the access to inaccurate information. Within just a few seconds we can receive and forward the uses for Coke that no one wants to hear or the kid who won a Nobel peace prize for discovering carcinogens in plastic, etc. This is a great conversation post as it took me down memory lane to a time when I was playing with my Star Wars light saber and broke my Kiss-Double Vision LP.
At the risk of making much ado about nothing….Subtle point you make here – it’s not a Luddite verses Geek thing. Its how today’s technology allows one to think about and visualize ideas (data, music, art, mathematics) in unique, new ways. Most any junior high kid old worth his Playstation stripes can log onto the family PC, load up some planetarium software, and easily visualize a space probe slingshotting around Mars on the way to Saturn or Jupiter. When I was a kid, it could only be done with what Einstein called a Gedankenexperiment (thought experiment). I think both are really the same thing – a way of immersion into a virtual world. The experience you describe with the new iPod is sort of a musical virtual world.
But this new world raises intellectual challenges (beyond the obvious ones like how do you value a company like amazon.com that’s really nothing more than an idea – a business model). If I take a snap shot of a sunset, load the file into Photoshop, and then boost the saturation until the colors are breathtakingly vivid (beyond what my eye saw when I clicked the shutter button) – am I a sham; am I an artist, or as long as it’s beautiful, should I care? If Michelangelo had used PaintShop on a Mac instead of canvas and oils paints or marble, would his work be any less magical?
On the other hand, technology does have a tendency to dull (or at least inhibit) one’s intuition about how the world works. My young engineers that have never had the pleasure of using a slide rule are as likely to give me an answer of 10,000 or 100,000 to a problem – whatever their calculator or spreadsheet tells them – without thinking about which answer is more plausible; a “slide rule” engineer had a rough idea what the answer would be before he did the calculation.
As for the vinyl verses CD thing – my 50 year old ears have listened to Skynrd and Zeppelin for too many ears at too high a volume to discern the “losses” my iPod’s mp3 compression causes over my old LPs – I like my iPod, yet the user interface on my cell phone baffles me. I do miss liner notes. I don’t miss 8 tracks……..