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The impermanent historical record ... - The Bibliophile
Too busy reading most likely ...
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The impermanent historical record ...
Was listening to 78s and 45s being played on the radio today ... yes, REAL discs on a turntable with a needle making the music audible ... and thinking about the 45s and LPs I still have stashed away (mostly stuff that has never been released on CD) and my parents' collection of 78s which Mom still has and my childhood of listening to even older 78s at my grandparents' house.

And it occurred to me that our next generations are going to miss out on a lot of this. Because downloads have no physical form ... when you or your device dies, what you listened to is gone. There'll be no stack of pixels stashed away in a closet or storage room or attic for the younglings to discover. There's a big chunk about us, as individuals and as a group, that's going to be lost forever. Not to mention some of lesser know musicians possibly disappearing from the historical record forever. Databases and websites aren't immortal and I certainly wouldn't recommend counting on The Wayback Machine or any other such archiving site as a permanent source either. Someday Amazon will be mere myth.

Ditto for books and movies: ebooks are as ephemeral as music downloads and Netflix never belonged to you anyway. A scary thought to somebody whose childhood included reading obscure Victorian and Edwardian fiction belonging to my mother.**

So now I've ordered hard copies (in the form of CDs) of four of my favourite download albums. Means I can listen these through good speakers in the living room instead of the okay computer speakers. And the younger members of my family will one day have a slightly better picture of just how weird (in the good way) I was. ;p

P.S. While I own an ereader I think of it as much as a sampling service for new-to-me authors as much as a convenience; anybody whose work I really like gets promoted to the buy-paper-editions list because I want them in a lasting format (I realize paper degrades eventually but it'll still outlive multiple file formats). And I also have a love of owning DVDs so that I can watch what I want when I want, without being limited by some streaming service's license agreements.


**No, my mother is not that old; when she was a kid she frequently borrowed books from an elderly neighbour who had a huge personal library. When this neighbour died Mom (then aged 10) learned that she'd actually left instructions for her daughter to let Mom take her pick of the books just for being an avid reader (who also respected and took good care of borrowed books)

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