Technology is moving on and it has been for a while or, I suppose, forever. These breakthroughs of mankind have made our lives much more convenient and helped to create a much lazier society. But I’m not complaining, who doesn’t want machines to do those menial tasks and chores so we can spend more time doing fun stuff, or just chilling out?
But new technologies aren’t all good, in fact some (well, the two mentioned in the title of this blog) are threatening to replace their predecessors completely, although probably not in our lifetimes I would guess (and hope).
The iPod has, in a way, eliminated the need for album artwork. Large and complex pieces of art cannot be appreciated on a tiny screen. In days gone past the album cover was an integral part of the whole musical package. An interesting cover and/or band logo was enticing when browsing the CD or record shelves. And sitting there with the vinyl cover whilst listening, or flicking through the CD booklet reading the lyrics along, or learning how the recording was achieved and where, as well as the equipment used, is no longer the done thing for many people. And that’s a shame.
Yes, having a vast array of songs at your fingertips is convenient, but should music really be convenient? It may seem strange to some, but the whole course of interacting with the music by having to get up and change the side, or change the disc, is all part of the experience for me. Having your entire playlist on shuffle, without fully appreciating an album played in the order that the artist intended, is something I don’t fancy much. But OK, I may be being a bit of a hypocrite here, as I do actually have a torture playlist that I listen to while I’m “working.”
But it’s not only music. Books are now coming in for the same treatment, although I’d bet there are a greater number of people out there who will be more resolute when it comes to rejecting reading gadgets than they are for audio technologies.
Holding a book, like holding the record sleeve, is part of the reading experience. Whether it’s the licking of your finger to turn the page and the satisfying crinkle of the paper, or being able to see and physically feel how many pages you’ve read or are yet to read.
There’s also the love that you can show a book by opening the pages like the cage of a dangerous animal, only just enough to peer inside so that you don’t mark the spine, or making sure that the cover doesn’t curl in the corners and that plastic film thing doesn’t start to peel off the cover- I hate that. In short, respecting the book and respecting the work of the author who has put time and, I’m sure, heartache into creating the story told on the pages.
Books from the library or a second hand shop can also tell their own stories of the previous owners, although this is mostly not a pleasant experience. How may times have you held a book with as little of your grip as possible, or even in rubber gloves, when you see dried snot stains, or brown blood, or remnants of food and drink splattered on the pages. Sometimes you can follow a three course meal of stains as you read, with the splodges of dinner slowly diminishing until the pages become clean again – and wondering if that scary scene made their bolognase taste a bit funny.
I must admit, though, I’ve been guilty of staining pages myself. Usually if I’m waiting for the sedatives to wear off I will pick up a book, sometimes forgetting to wash my hands. If these are borrowed books I never give them back, though. That’s DNA evidence against me right there and I ain’t stupid.
You don’t get any of these adventures when using an e-reader. OK, they’re convenient and remove the necessity of having plenty of bookcases, in the same way an iPod frees up space in your home where mountains of records and CDs would live. But surely having your favourite books and a giant collection of music you can physically touch is much more satisfying than seeing long lists on a screen. Or is it just me?
So what am I saying here, avoid iPods and other MP3 players, as well as Kindles and other e-readers? Nah, not entirely, they are convenient when a record or a CD or a book is too bulky to carry around, especially if your pockets are full of weapons and chloroform. There are plenty of epic works of fiction that give your arms a workout while you’re reading, they’re so heavy. I suppose having War and Peace tucked away inside a tiny screen is easier for most people.
But come on, lets make sure we don’t lose the old ways entirely, there’s so much more fun to be had by having something in your hands, even though that last point does sound a but rude!
Photo via Visualhunt