Seriocomic links an interesting point about digital media saturation:

I’m finding that the “digital photo effect” is starting to make its way into my music and video experiences as well. What’s the DPE? My ability to produce and acquire has far outstripped my ability to consume. Produce from my own digital camera. Acquire from friends, family, Flickr, etc. This has a couple of ramifications:

  1. I feel behind all the time.
  2. Because there is so much to consume, I don’t enjoy each individual photo as much as I did when they were physical prints. I click through fast.
  3. Because of 1 and 2, sometimes I don’t even bother.

rootburn: Too much of a good thing?

I must confess that I have felt this same phenomenon, shortly after the Conquering Worm of P2P arrived on the scene. I’m not sure it’s fair to place the blame entirely on the sudden imbalance of acquisition and appreciation. Perhaps the most pointed of examples I can bring up is that of Nine Inch’s Nails’ The Fragile, which I first heard in 1999, before I became involved in Napster. Put bluntly, years later, I would wonder why I rarely seemed to recreate the intense fascination and joy that The Fragile inspired in me. I had a folder full of 30 second sound clips from and listened to them on repeat until such time as I could get to Best Buy and purchase the album. I attribute my perceived lack of enthusiasm to several things:

  1. The Fragile represented an entirely new type of music for me, prior to which I had subsisted entirely on radio rock and pop. The more I explored, the less new types there were to discover. I think this, perhaps, is even more perfidious that the amount available, that it takes so much more to impress a man who’s been around the block, so to speak. I do recall that Opeth’s My Arms, Your Hearse evoked a similar reaction.
  2. Let’s face it: the new millennium, while it has seen its share of excellent bands, has not been kind to the music scene in general. The corporate hegemony of the music business has a tendency (ok, knee-jerk reaction) to squash inventive or challenging music and promote the banal, simple, and marketable. There have simply been some periods of time where the music scene was listless. Is my lack of enjoyment in Opeth’s latest release due to the fact that I downloaded it early, or because it really was a lackluster album?

It’s true that my ability to acquire music has outstripped my ability to listen to it, but that doesn’t mean I can’t focus on the albums I really look forward to just as much as I used to. That is, in fact, one of the big points that RIAA opponents like to bring up: the albums that people really want, that really have merit, they will buy just as they always did.

§467 · December 17, 2004 · ·

1 Comment to “Quality over Quantity”

  1. Andy says:

    I belive it was Star Trek’s Spock that said somethinng to the effect of: it is far more satisfying to desire a thing than it is to own it. illogical but true.

    There is validity to the phenomenon of which you speak. But do not discount that very plain aand very horrible occurrence which happens to all mortals, be they prince or pauper, stupid or sage: growing up. Your priorities change before you actually realize they have.

    Additionally, to someone who has listened to as much music as you have, or seen as many movies as I have, I am convinced that there is little left capable of impressing us in those areas. There is not much new under the sun, as it were. (I have a two-page list of movies I would like to see SOMEDAY, but gone is my lust to track them down immediately and watch them one after the other until the wee hours.) We can still enjoy the stylistic chestnuts, or begin liking things we never understood or appreciated before, but seldom will be that mad rush upon discovering something like we had never experienced, a thing which opens to us new avenues of entertainment.

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