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Bye bye MP3: You sucked the life out of music. But vinyl is just as warped

Jeffrey Nonken

Not all of us old geezers complain about how much better it was in the old days.

Those damned albums were impossible to keep clean, and scratched if you looked at them funny.

I personally preferred listening to the tape hiss to turning the treble all the way down. I'd rather hear the flaws of the medium than miss 3/4 of the music. (Yes, I'm implying that the treble is more important than the bass. But I don't buy $3000 woofers for my car, either. And it's entirely a matter of taste. That's just me, OK?)

As for The Old Days, feh. You can have 'em. Yeah, I get nostalgic too, but I'm more likely to sit on the loo and marvel that I can sit on the loo and hold a computing powerhouse in my hand that's not only several orders of magnitude smaller, but also several orders of magnitude more powerful AND cheaper than the computer I used at university, and I can slip it into my pocket once I'm finished the paperwork. Printer extra, but the one on my desktop can print a page every few seconds in high-quality color graphics on ordinary paper. And I don't even need wires to connect them. I can get the printer and supplies around the corner for modest amounts of money.

Whereas the IBM 360 at NDSU (Fargo) took up a whole room (larger than some apartments I've occupied), required half an hour of meticulous work monday morning to get powered up and running, and cost so much to run and maintain that nowadays the Smithsonian can't even be bothered. They stuck theirs in a closet. Let's not even talk about the air conditioning.*

My phone is cheap enough that I can throw it away right now, order a new one that will arrive in the post in a few days, and charge it to my credit card. A used one I can pay out of pocket. And not only can I watch movies on it, and post snarky comments to my favorite rag, I can actually -- sit down for this -- MAKE AND RECEIVE PHONE CALLS.

I know, weird, right?

Seriously. Sometimes I do that. Just think about all the changes I've seen in my lifetime. Then I think about the changes my grandmother must have seen, that I've only seen the end of. And I let it blow my mind for a while, then go back to watching porn and cat videos (not at the same time) and under-appreciating my pocket-sized, battery-powered computing powerhouse that OBTW also lets me double-check with the wife which of a myriad of feminine hygiene products she wanted me to buy.

Nostalgia just isn't what it used to be.

*OK OK, the air conditioning is probably equivalent to a modern data center of the same size. The difference being that the operator can carry several orders of magnitude more computing power in his pocket, let's not even talk about the computing power of a single rack, and he can probably assemble and install a whole new computer in about the time it took to IPL one of those old mainframes.

So much for not talking about it.

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