Sunday, 19 July 2009

Music should not be measured in megabytes

I never thought that at 23 I’d be shaking a stick at the young and giving the old “when I was your age” speech. However, look at these kids, they don’t have the responsibility of keeping records scratch-free or rewinding a cassette tape with a pen after a dastardly player chews the tape. All they have to worry about is whether they have enough room on their iPods. Now don’t get me wrong, I truly love my iPod, it is shiny, portable, musical and plays me Queen songs whenever I ask it to (I don’t even have to feign politeness or anything).

My main gripe with the almighty Pod of I is the ease in which this technology is acquired, appropriated and exhibited.
Acquirement: As far as middle class society is concerned iPods are fairly cheap and some like the Shuffle have been known to come free with phone plans.
Appropriation: By buying an iPod, whether it is done purposely or not, a person resigns themselves to consumerism at its finest – Calm down now, I’m not about to give you an anti-consumerism lecture that would make a hippie climax. All I’m saying is that choosing an iPod over another MP3 player that has the exact same features at a fraction of the cost is buying the brand down to a T.
Exhibition: “Look at my white earphones, if these don’t convince you that I own an iPod, let me take my iPod out of my pocket to fiddle with it unnecessarily. Do you see it now? Let me catch the sun with its shininess just in case”

Then of course there is the iPod snobbery out there: “I don’t add anything into my iPod that doesn’t have album art or all the fields filled out” Oh, I’m sorry, here I was thinking that the importance was in the music itself. Back in the day, ownership as a concept was realized when purchasing a CD (or cassette/vinyl) you owned the CD, it was yours to listen to, to lend as you saw fit, to stack in your room as a trophy of your music tastes in progress. I don’t feel the iPod turn wheel fully embodies these characteristics, in fact it depersonalizes the whole music experience.

Sure, you still have ownership over the iPod itself but where’s the stacking? The lending? No, with iPods there is file sharing and skins, if you’re computer literate you might have the added bonus of adding photos or videos but mostly people tend to only really use these features occasionally, at least not enough to warrant them as essential.

Yes, I know I must seem like I’m a new technology hater, I ‘m not. If anything I’ve kept with the times the last 20 years: owning Walkmans, Discmans, mp3 playing Discmans and yes, even a mini disc at one point. Now at the culmination of this technology I own and live by the soundtrack of my iPod. Yet, at the end of the day it seems that something is missing in the equation. So excuse me if once in a while I put a cassette tape in the deck and listen to the grainy renditions of my favorite songs purely to feel that somehow I had to work for that brief moment of musical satisfaction.