Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Thoughts on the Status of My CD Collection

(This is a repsonse to Streamlining Physical Media: What's the Status of Your CD and DVD Collection? over on my friend Chris' blog. Go there and read that first, then come back and read this...)

I'm still a CD person. I just got my first car with a CD player in it a few years ago. And I still buy them, although mostly from library sales and thrift shops. It's kind of dumb, I know, since CD's have none of the good aspects of either vinyl or mp3s. But I remember when having my own CD player and buying CDs my parents didn't want me to listen to was a big deal. And I feel that sort-of-prideful collector's urge when I browse my collection "Look at how awesome my collection is. You can tell I'm cool."

That said, I've recently been facing up to the fact that CDs are going away. I have started to find old CD's that won't play in old CD players. CD technology itself has a pretty short lifespan. So the past few weeks I've started ripping all my CD's to a computer with a big hard drive. It's like 2001 all over again. I'm setting it up so that I can stream my own collection to myself over the Internet. Kind of like my own private Pandora or Spotify.

I've even found some old mix CD's and playlists for potential future mix CD's written down on scraps of paper in my old college stuff. I'm planning to re-create them in electronic playlist form on my music computer. A mixtape is a powerful thing.

As for DVD's, I went through a pretty short period of buying a lot of them and then quickly quit. I probably never owned even forty. Eventually, I'll do the same thing with them that I did with the CD's: rip them to a computer, and stream them to myself around the house or over the Internet.

I've never bought music digitally. Ironically I feel like digital objects are too ephemeral. That and DRM is evil, etc, etc. And I never felt the same satisfied ownership with online services like Pandora and Grooveshark that I still feel when I buy even used CDs.

It's a funny coincidence that you posted this just now. What prompted me to go through all my old CD's has been getting a lot of my old stuff from my parents' house. I've been sorting through all the stuff that, at some point, I thought I would want to keep forever. It's hard to get rid of anything that feels like it was a part of what made you who you are. A lot of the things I'm finding in my old junk remind me of times that I had totally forgotten about. When I then make the decision to get rid of it, it feels like I'm choosing to maybe never remember that part of my life again. It feels like I might be getting rid of a part of myself.

I guess for a while, at first, becoming an adult means adding things (to your CD collection and to your personality) - that is to say growing and expanding. And then at some point it becomes also about shedding things from the past.