Posts Tagged ‘future’

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Media technologies are additive

October 11, 2011

I’ve been watching the debate over Amazon’s e-book rental service, announced a few weeks ago. I can’t help but notice how it recapitulates the debate over streaming music.

Here’s a pretty normal day for me and music: I’ll listen to the radio in my car en route to work. I take my iPod, loaded with MP3s, to the gym. At my desk, I stream music via Spotify, or Last.fm, or by using ex.fm for MP3 links, or Hype Machine, or more. Or I stream more radio. On the way home, I listen to CDs (my car is too old to have an auxiliary input). I might stream Spotify to my phone as I walk out to meet friends for dinner. And I’ll put a vinyl record on when I come home.

Similarly, my office is full of text. Textbooks. Large-format coffee-table style books. My Kindle. Hand-bound copies of all of my theses. PDF e-books on my computer. Printouts of manuscripts to review. Bookmarks to online texts in my browser. Novels: hardbound, trade and pocket paperback. On my phone, Kindle and Instapaper.  Workbooks.

I recently downloaded a number of illustrations from Ernst Haeckel’s 1904 book, Kunstformen der Natur, from the Wikimedia Commons. They first existed as sketches, then engravings, then the lithographs that went into the book. Someone scanned the pages and uploaded them as high-resolution images, which I downloaded, opened in image-editing software, converted to greyscale and resized, and then downloaded to serve as the screensavers on my Kindle.

It’s a fallacy to think that the existence of one technology supplants another. Sure, technologies become obsolete. But as a user and a lover of the content (the text, or the music, or the images), I’m not interested in hurrying up the process. Different technologies have different affordances, and my primary interest is in being able to reach for the most appropriate one for my purpose.

[photo: lost box of tapes! by Flickr user wayneandwax, used here under its Creative Commons license]

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Neophile: Spiraling

April 29, 2008

New Brunswick, NJ-based Spiraling seems custom-designed to appeal to me, given that their music inhabits the intersection of love, indie music, and deep geekiness (like some other bands that come to mind). Their sound isn’t very easy to place temporally – I hear echoes of 70s Queen, 80s synthpop, 90s emo and 21st century postpunk. Despite that, the album hangs together as a consistent whole – it’s a melodic mixture of guitars, piano and synthesizers, capped off with bittersweet and yes, geeky, lyrics – “Modern life is much too hard/with no jet packs or flying cars./This is not the future we were promised.” “I won’t forget the breaking of your heart/All I have to do is step into the time machine/And stop before it starts.” Check them out (even if you’re not a geek like me).

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MP3: Spiraling – The Future

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