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Online music collections create a different type of hoarder

August 6, 2014
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Perhaps it’s because I was linked to “All Power to the Pack Rats” directly after reading Ray Kurzweil’s The Singularity Is Real (for a commentary on T-Pain), but the piece (about Apple’s evil plan to depict people with possessions as poor to promote a streamlined culture invested in its products) got me all stirred up.

It’s not like the criticism that Apple instills a commercial desire for a techie Stepford-like lifestyle is new to me. I have been a stodgy rejecter of that Apple culture since the first iPod, because I resented the implication that 10 gigs was all anyone should need to house their entire music collection. It wasn’t until Apple released the sixth generation iPod with 160 gigs of storage that I started considering it a real option. As chance would have it, I won a 16-gig iPod in a raffle at a convention, so I wound up with the absurdly pointless device anyway.

I used the iPod exactly once, on a flight to Spain the year Michael Jackson died. I loaded it up with MJ and what few other albums I could stuff into it, like my music collection was the beastly stepsister trying to squeeze into Cinderella’s shoe. After I returned from vacation, I brought the iPod out onto my patio one day, intending to use it while I read in the sun, but as it wasn’t my habit, I forgot it existed and a Florida summer storm came to claim it. (Yes, I tried putting it in rice.)

In my current job, I use an iMac, and I will admit my most recent phone purchase was an iPhone (please note, I chose it because it was the most affordable smartphone option through AT&T, which still strikes me as insane, so in that way, Apple at least once catered to one poor person despite its iKampf vision). But at home, I have an Insignia TV, an ASUS laptop, an old white MacBook that currently only runs one outdated version of Firefox, a PlayStation 3, a Sony record player and a Philips stereo. And a ton of records, many of which do not exist in any clouds that I know of. I am filthy, I know.

I am the pack rat that the aforementioned article is intended for. Catch me in a bar, and I’ll hiss at you about the inadequacies of Spotify. I find most online collections to be incredibly cumbersome and difficult to manage, what with all the file naming and format options, and for me, when it’s in the cloud, it’s out of sight, out of mind. More importantly, online collections tend to be less curated than physical collections, because it’s so easy to download music and then never come back to it. So if a friend is perusing your digital music library, looking to discover a new album based on knowledge of your tastes, the collection is less reliable, because we’re all endlessly adding and rarely removing. Isn’t this just hoarding in a new but just as unproductive manner?

Someone call Hoarders and find out if digitally hoarding is just as mentally debilitating as physically hoarding and get back to me, please. For now, I’ll continue pulling off sleeves and dusting off old records.

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