All three of my kids have I-Pods. One of them has a model that holds 10,000 songs. If each song were, on average, about three minutes long, it would two months to get through them all, if you listened to the gadget for 8 hours a day. What’s the point?
At the dawn of the Information Age,a professor of mine in graduate school remarked how information, unlike the stuff of the existing industrial economy, could expand almost infinitely with no adverse effects on the environment. If you write a well-researched and objective description of something, no matter how obscure, there is no technical reason why it cannot, or should not, be posted to Wikipiedia. The editor of an encyclopedia that is printed on paper and bound into volumes does not have that option. So is this what we are witnessing? An almost-infinite storage medium, with random access? It is worth noting that this professor had been involved in a project called the Bicentennial Electronic Encyclopedia (BEE), which he hoped would be available in the bicentennial year of 1976. It would have been produced with punched cards.
But there’s too much music. Popular music is over-produced, over-packaged, and over-marketed. It serves as wallpaper for a post-industrial age, instead of the expression of a fundamental human instinct and desire. People (not just kids) go through their daily business with an iPod attached to their ears, playing a “sound track of my life.” The finest music I heard recently was a mockingbird outside my office window in downtown Washington, imitating the sound of a car alarm. That bird had it nailed!A neighbor of mine, Joe Bussard, is famous for having an amazing collection of obscure 78 rpm records. He once told an interviewer that no music recorded on more modern media is worth listening to. The interviewer thought that was ridiculous, and didn’t believe him. But Bussard has a point: what did it feel like to be the first person in the world to hear, for the first time, a voice or song that was not live? Joe Corn wrote about how the rapture people felt when they first saw a person in the sky flying in an airplane: they fainted and swooned at the sight.
I know this sounds like a broken record (no pun intended), but once again we see Moore’s Law at work. Steve Jobs, you’ve been a hero of mine, but please, can we have some silence?