reflections on being given a CD for Christmas 

Never mind who gave it to me, or what it was: this is more about changing media consumption habits. A cartoon on the topic of “what drew me to vinyl” started me down this rabbit hole. 

We’ve seen with the slow closing of video rental stores the future of a business whose chief point of difference is moving around physical representations of digital information. There needs to be a significant value-add, or the market will eventually move to digital delivery, for its significantly lower cost and greater convenience. 

To open a Christmas present in 2015 and see a CD is to see that someone spent the time tracking down a physical artefact for you, to have thought about the packaging and the contents, and make that selection. To have wrapped it and arranged it under the tree. All of these steps of taking time are missing from the “share this with a friend” of digital gifting. 

But how quickly we forget the points of difference. To listen to the CD, I looked for my external CD drive (none of the computers in the house have a working internal cd drive) plugged it in and put the CD in through iTunes, where the cddb database immediately recognised it, and added in all the metadata and cover art. I was then able to sync it to my iPhone, the only device I really use for music listening anymore, despite having better audio quality available elsewhere in the house. 

And so it wasn’t until 24 hours later that I even thought to look at the booklet that came with the CD: so much metadata (track titles and timing, artist information and copyright details) are available in a more accessible way through the digital infrastructure that surrounds a CD. 

Sometimes the new methods bring a lot of improvements. 

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