Feeling Grateful for the Death of Physical Media - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 13 Old 01-29-2010, 03:44 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Ok, I know, weird title... could go in Decluttering or F&F, so I'm just sticking it general MH...

Before Gutenberg perfected the printing press, books were luxury items. Each one was laboriously crafted, copied and sewn by hand by an educated, literate person- a member of the elite. Most people would never a own a single book, let alone several.

When the printing press began churning out books, three things happened right away: the price of books fell sharply, the literacy rate skyrocketed, and a few cranks lamented the fact that pressed books were not as beautiful nor as sturdy as their handmade ancestors.

My entire life, I've dreamed of having a library of my own. Then I moved, and moved, and moved again. I had 2000 books, and I had to downsize.

I will probably never have an entire huge room in my house filled with books. But now, thanks to ereaders, I will be able to own thousands of books, many for FREE, in something that will fit in my backpack when it's time to move.

People only used to be able to listen to music when there were musicians assembled. Then you had buy a radio. Or a turntable and records. All this stuff was very, very expensive. The the transistor was invented. And those little 45 rpm records started selling for about $1 each. So if you worked for minimum wage, you'd have to work about 90 minutes to buy two 45s, that had a total of four songs on them. Now, forty years later, I'm sitting at my desk buying songs for ten cents each! An hour of minimum wage work buys you 75 songs.

Computers, which have made all this possible, have gotten dirt cheap. I remember the macs in the early 80's- they cost $7000, or $20,000 in today's dollars. Now, you can buy a computer for $400. (So, that would have been what, around $80 thirty years ago?)

I don't need to store, maintain, or house art that gives me joy. Even most poor people can afford to enjoy ten cent music and free books and $9 a month for movies from Netflix. My house is bigger and more open without racks and shelves, less to pay for, less to heat and cool, easier to clean.

And, best of all, so much better for the environment! So much less plastic, plastic, plastic.

If you made it through this, thanks. I'm just ripping the last of my CDs into LaLa and feeling reflective.

Trying to turn hearts and minds toward universal healthcare, one post at a time.
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#2 of 13 Old 01-29-2010, 11:23 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Leta View Post
Ok, I know, weird title... could go in Decluttering or F&F, so I'm just sticking it general MH...

Before Gutenberg perfected the printing press, books were luxury items. Each one was laboriously crafted, copied and sewn by hand by an educated, literate person- a member of the elite. Most people would never a own a single book, let alone several.

When the printing press began churning out books, three things happened right away: the price of books fell sharply, the literacy rate skyrocketed, and a few cranks lamented the fact that pressed books were not as beautiful nor as sturdy as their handmade ancestors.

My entire life, I've dreamed of having a library of my own. Then I moved, and moved, and moved again. I had 2000 books, and I had to downsize.

I will probably never have an entire huge room in my house filled with books. But now, thanks to ereaders, I will be able to own thousands of books, many for FREE, in something that will fit in my backpack when it's time to move.

People only used to be able to listen to music when there were musicians assembled. Then you had buy a radio. Or a turntable and records. All this stuff was very, very expensive. The the transistor was invented. And those little 45 rpm records started selling for about $1 each. So if you worked for minimum wage, you'd have to work about 90 minutes to buy two 45s, that had a total of four songs on them. Now, forty years later, I'm sitting at my desk buying songs for ten cents each! An hour of minimum wage work buys you 75 songs.

Computers, which have made all this possible, have gotten dirt cheap. I remember the macs in the early 80's- they cost $7000, or $20,000 in today's dollars. Now, you can buy a computer for $400. (So, that would have been what, around $80 thirty years ago?)

I don't need to store, maintain, or house art that gives me joy. Even most poor people can afford to enjoy ten cent music and free books and $9 a month for movies from Netflix. My house is bigger and more open without racks and shelves, less to pay for, less to heat and cool, easier to clean.

And, best of all, so much better for the environment! So much less plastic, plastic, plastic.

If you made it through this, thanks. I'm just ripping the last of my CDs into LaLa and feeling reflective.
Where do you get your songs for 10 cents each?
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#3 of 13 Old 01-29-2010, 11:55 PM
 
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Great post, Leta. Technology has definitely made it easier to have less clutter.

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#4 of 13 Old 01-30-2010, 11:52 AM
 
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I have thought about this too, as far as the size of things, if not the quantity which you speak of, such as:

tv's now being able to be hung on walls or just sitting on a skinny piece of furniture or countertop
[I still remember walking into a friends smallish but cute family room after her dh came home with a $5000 monstrous tv that took up 1/3 of the room~ I have to admit my dh did not seem as bad after that LOL]

LP's to 8 track to cassette to cd to digital and the size of the equipment to play them

And the size of computers and monitors scaled down as well as the price

.....On the flip side, trucks and suvs do not fit in people's garages~ I think the pendulum is swinging back on that one too with gas prices and all

Interesting topic, you've got me thinking, thanks
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#5 of 13 Old 02-02-2010, 03:18 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Where do you get your songs for 10 cents each?
Lala. They are called "web songs"- that is, you can listen to them (as many times as you want) through a web browser. If you want to download them to an iPod or burn them to a CD, you have to pay the full MP3 price, which is 69c-1.19 more, depending on the song. But all the music on your computer can be uploaded into Lala, and that music you already own, so that can be iPod'd/burned without spending any money.

I like it because we already have a CD library (well, now it's ripped and uploaded, but you know what I mean) of 3000+ songs, so our iPods are well stocked. If I mustmustmust download a song onto my iPod, I'll pay the additional seventy cents or so... but that's happened all of twice, since I have tons of variety on the go, I just listen to my web songs at home. I'm a SAHM, so that's where I usually am, anyway.

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#6 of 13 Old 02-02-2010, 03:23 PM - Thread Starter
 
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LP's to 8 track to cassette to cd to digital and the size of the equipment to play them
My uncle has a huge vintage vinyl collection. Custom made wooden racks. $1000+ turntable. Horsehair brush to clean the records.

And it is awesome. Cool artwork and incredible sound. But between the room in his house devoted to it, and the equipment and the records themselves... it's just a lot, you know? For the purist, the dedicated collector, this is A Thing, a way of life. For everyone else... yeah, MP3s have their drawbacks, but I think the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.

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#7 of 13 Old 02-03-2010, 02:40 AM
 
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I have been excited about this too. I love my physical books (and I've moved a lot), but I gave DH a kindle for xmas and he loves loves loves it.

We have netflix online. No more sending disks back and forth. I wish that their entire collection was available online. I am sure the day is coming.

Libraries are becoming more and more digitized.

It is so handy and tidy to not have to deal with books, newspapers, magazines, CD, DVDs, VHS tapes, game cartridges, etc. - and the day is coming soon that it will all be electronic. (I also think this makes a lot more sense from an environmental standpoint too.)
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#8 of 13 Old 02-04-2010, 09:10 AM
 
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I agree that the lack of clutter is incredible. However, I am saddened by the demise of artwork. For example, albums were these fantastic canvases, some folded out, some had artwork on sleeves, etc. Then as media shrank, the artwork did, too. Now it's all but lost. My DH makes his living by creating CD/DVD/Album artwork and it's weird to see his efforts in a teeny little box on iTunes.
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#9 of 13 Old 02-05-2010, 03:34 PM
 
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Yes, it's too bad the ancients didn't have the technology we have now. We wouldn't have to deal with nasty clay tablets, parchments & papyrus in museums. Those books before and after Gutenburg and others, my, they take up so much space in display cases, made of things PETA would object to). And, hey, what about that Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights in Washington DC?? Gosh, the lines of people queued-up just to look at all that handwriting, how silly, when they can read them online. Too bad they didn't have a computer, then the printing could be all Arial or Times New Roman, and they could have emailed King George the whole document!

No, I disagree with some of what you say. So much that defines a culture is what we will "leave behind" to the future generations. A culture that depends, so heavily, on electronics is on a slippery slope, in my opinion. What if technology ceases? So much knowledge and personal history - POOF! - vanishes.

Too few people actually write, by hand, anymore, it's all on the computer (whether typed and printed or emailed). It's sad, as their personalities are lost by using a medium other than pen or pencil (or, even, crayon!). Their unique individualities are gone. Their letters look no different from yours or mine.

I have letters written by relatives from the War of 1812, the Civil War, WWI, WWII and later, as well as legal documents dating into the 1500's (a couple are penned on real parchment (specially-prepared animal skin)). The handwriting on these is exquisite. It says so much about the person. They couldn't just "backspace" or highlight and delete something if they made an error. It is there, you can see them gathering their thoughts and re-penning mistakes (though, there are few of those). There are blurs from tears (and the author's apologies for the blotted marks). Some have had locations scratched-out by censors (from WWI). These are documents about everyday life. About informing a family that their son was killed in battle. About new wife telling her husband, posted overseas in France, that their child was born (that letter stained with both tears and blood, as my grandfather was shot and the letter was in his pocket, as was his half-written reply to her!). About how much they are loved and missed. My Dad's diary from WWII is one of my most precious possessions. His handwriting describing his thoughts, hopes and fears. A smear and an arrow on the side of the front page pointing to the reason for the blob (he writes the journal was new and the paper edges were razor-sharp!). He was, quite literally, part of that journal.

No, you can't get any of these feelings when they are printed from typewriters or word processors.

We have friends whose only child was posted in Iraq. They emailed back and forth to each other frequently. He was killed. The day of the funeral, some UAV broke into their house and stole their computer, among many other pieces of electronic media. They hadn't bothered to print-out (or, back-up onto a disc) those emails from their son. They lost the last 6 months of communications from their son because it was all committed to electronic media.

Convenience isn't always better.

To hold an original letter, newspaper or magazine from a differnt time is to step into that era and moment. You can't get that same feeling from microfiche, a print-out or reading it online. I have a copy of the New Orleans "Times-Picayune" from when I was a child. Our pictures are in it above a captions "Calling loved ones to assure them of their safety". We had survived a hotel fire and were photographed, in our pjs, in a phone booth at an adjacent hotel. I can still remember that photographer! I love to look at the rest of the paper, reading articles and ads.

We have a huge personal library. Every room in our home (save the bathrooms!) has shelves with books. Coffee table books with glorious, huge pages coloured with images of so many subjects. Fictions and non-fiction. My kitchen has loads of cookbooks, some of which belonged to my great-grandmother and date to the late 1800's (with notes in the margins written in a spidery, flowing script about little improvements she suggest!). We have many of my grandfather's textbooks from medical school (again, with his comments about the subject and, oftentimes, his professors of that course!). There are books that belonged to my Dad (as a child), presented as prizes for school contests (with his name carefully penned in the end pages). We have books that date back to the 1600's, in Latin, varying in subjects from botany to sciences to poetry. Who held them and read them?

My favorite "Twilight Zone" episode is the one with the quiet man that loved to read and was the only one to survive a disaster that destroyed living society. But, the books remain. I always like to think he managed to find, in the rubble of an optical shop or stationary store, a magnifying glass or some broken eyeglasses and could then read to his hearts desire!

Enjoy your Kindle or reading things online. I will continue to hold and relish my real books, enjoying the feel of the paper in my fingers, turning pages (some already dog-eared from earlier reader). Choosing a cookbook that automatically opens to certain pages (many of these with smudges of batter of spices!). A small book of poetry, with a romantic message of love written inside the cover and a flower pressed within. These are books with additional stories! And, those extra stories are NOT to be found in any electronic media (can you press a flower in a Kindle?).

Oh, by the way, yes, we also have lots of vinyl LPs, along with 45s and 78s!! Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without listening to some of our albums (that are not available in any other format). Their jackets aren't as thick as a CD jewel cases (so, width-wise, they don't take up any more room than a CD). Plus, as both dh and I are of a certain "mature" age, we can actually read the liner notes and what not on the back! No squinting and complaining about small print!!!

Dh has an iPod and spends more time trying to see that tiny screen (not to mention finding it in his gym bag!), than it's worth. I have no idea how to use the thing and have no desire, either. He also likes his CDs (I hate trying to read the titles on the spines, too small!!).

Netflix has made seeing movies more enjoyable simply because of a selection that cannot be matched in most rental stores. I agree the accessiblity of films we, otherwise, wouldn't be able to see is wonderful. But, we don't watch them online (we have dial-up and that is too slow!).

For what it's worth, I DO read the daily paper online! But, if there is an article I want to keep (such as ds finding the first buttercup of the season a couple of years back!), I buy a copy and laminate the article. I've done the same with my Dad's obituary and our wedding announcement. Looking at a print-out from the computer just isn't the same. We're sentimental oldies!!!
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#10 of 13 Old 02-05-2010, 08:53 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I suppose I would feel differently if I had any of this stuff... but I don't. No nineteenth century cookbooks or stacks of love letters (my own or anyone else's) or anything like that.

What I do have is a small house, two kids under four, a love of reading, a love of music, and 300 CDs that were under lock and key from the time DD was walking. Now I get to listen to music again, and nothing gets scratched.

I love the feel of a beloved book in my hands. But the truth is that book production has been turning out a far lower quality product for 20 years now. Current books are not meant to last a lifetime, much less for generations.

And, call me a cynic, but I think our culture will leave MORE THAN ENOUGH behind for future archaeologists to mine.

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#11 of 13 Old 02-05-2010, 11:24 PM
 
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And, call me a cynic, but I think our culture will leave MORE THAN ENOUGH behind for future archaeologists to mine.

I don't think links to FB pages count

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#12 of 13 Old 02-06-2010, 05:09 AM
 
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I'm with you - we sold the CDs and many of the books a few years ago. Now, it's the library, the Kindle or we donate/sell it once we're done reading it.

No shelves of DVDs, no shelves of CDs, no shelves of books, just wide, open space.

I don't have the heart to give up the vinyl yet though.

Mom to DD Nov 2009,
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#13 of 13 Old 02-06-2010, 10:38 AM
 
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I prefer to live in the present, instead of the past. A piece of paper doesn't make my memories more meaningful, or my relatives' contributions more valid. A row of books doesn't reflect my intelligence, and Bob Dylan's words are no less poetic because they are coming from my ipod instead of from crackly vinyl. Just because you don't have the clutter to accompany a memory or historic event doesn't mean it didn't happen or it wasn't valid. I am not opposed to The Declaration of Independence or a shoebox of family love letters, but making walls of books into a deep commentary of the retention of our very moral and cultural fiber is a bit much, imo.

Freedom from 'stuff' and the ability to be happy without the 'safety' of my clutter and the fear that without it I may not have memories or history speaks more to my personal growth than having walls and rooms of clutter ever will.

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