Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Living in the future: music storage edition

The other day I was trying to find something in my office, which is also the only place that I still have a stereo, so it's where I keep my CDs.

The course of going through things brought me to the decision to grab all these old burned mix CDs and rip the songs back off of them to my hard drive, so that I could get rid of them because I knew a lot of them were duplicates. Various mixes that had similar songs, that kind of thing. Or ones where I have since bought the whole CD, or never deleted the MP3 in the first place.

As I was doing this, I remembered that I made these CDs in the first place because my old hard drive was running out of space and mp3s were such huge files, I couldn't keep them digitally.

So the irony that I was now putting them back on the hard drive because CDs take up too much physical space wasn't lost on me.

Then I had one that was scratched to the point where it wouldn't play anymore. And it got me thinking about how silly CDs are going to look in another generation. They were so fragile. They couldn't take heat or cold, scratches were a constant issue. You couldn't bend them too much, or put too much weight on them. How silly were we to think it was a good idea?

Of course this started me on a conversation with my cousin about all the various media that humans have used for music, and in the end it seems like we still haven't figured out something that was crazy fragile in some way. Records melt in the heat and have the same scratching problem. Cassettes were vulnerable to magnets and getting eaten alive by your stereo.

Even hard drives are problematic in some ways, largely the fact that one day it could just fail to boot up for whatever wacky reason it feels like, and then you're stuck. So now we not only have music collections, we have backups of our music collections. I'm not sure if that's a step in the right direction.

But at the very least, we do finally have the space thing taken care of. While I do think shelves full of records look pretty cool, it is nice that my entire collection of music fits on something smaller than a hardcover book.