Winter is coming…

I’ll make no excuses for the Game of Thrones (GoT) reference.  As the latest season of this epic fantasy rollercoaster ride reached its long-awaited and jaw-dropping climax yesterday, the title of this post ties in nicely to some subjects I’ve been giving some thought to recently, (perhaps without the dragons, slaughter and wildfire!), so please bear with me…

At Chez Miller, I’m currently in the process of redecorating our lounge, and as the books, DVDs and CDs on the bookshelves were packed away to make room for dustsheets, I realised that I hadn’t bought a CD for several years.  Now, this is fairly common-place, with the advent of Spotify and iTunes, plus dramatic changes in consumer habits, and plenty has been written regarding the demise of physical media, (although there are also plenty of resurgences – particularly recently with vinyl and tape cassettes – from digital natives[1] to prisoners[2]).

However, what really what got me thinking, was remembering how as a child, I always enjoyed getting a feel for my parents’ musical tastes by browsing their vinyl collection – from the Rolling Stones to the Beatles, and how I would be taken on a musical journey from the 1950s through to the 1980s.  Now, my own children can be taken on a similar journey with our extensive CD collection.  However, a black hole appears from the late 2000’s onwards.  I haven’t stopped listening to music, far from it, I’m probably listening to more than ever, however, how will my children know what I listened to during this period  Will they be able to export my Spotify playlists? I doubt it.

Of course the swing towards digital is unlikely to change, and depending on your point of view, the pros tend to outweigh the cons.  So how do we overcome this “Digital Dark Age”, a term discussed by Stewart Brand in his excellent and thought-provoking book, “The Clock of the Long Now”.  In it Brand writes: “Digital storage is easy; digital preservation is hard.  Preservation means keeping the stored information catalogued, accessible, and usable on current media, which requires constant effort and expense.”

Brand continues by discussing a number of approaches to improve digital preservation, including using standard metadata – information in a digital format related to a description of the artefact, and how it works.  It is suggested that this forms part of a broader approach of using the most common file formats, limit compression and holds multiple copies.  Will this be, or form part of, the solution….?

So, back to music – what’s my own approach?  I’m starting to treat my Spotify subscription as something that enables me to sample music from different genres, labels and artists, that I may not have been exposed to in a more traditional bricks and mortar store.  If I find, something I particularly like – there’s nothing to stop me buying the CD, supporting up-and-coming artists in the process.

 

Note: my colleague, Dave Leyland, has previously written an excellent and insightful blog post on a related topic recently about the need to develop plans to ensure currency of services and infrastructure to avoid the reliance on a stash of NOS or eBay parts to ‘keep the lights on’ of your business. Well worth a look!

 

[1] Stephen Witt, “Digital natives still yearn for an analogue life”, https://next.ft.com/content/beb88a52-dcb0-11e5-8541-00fb33bdf038

[2] http://99percentinvisible.org/episode/loud-and-clear/

Game of Thrones Image: Home Box Office Inc./BCKORS, LLC./GROK!, LLC./Generator Entertainment/Suction Productions, Inc.