Blog No. 50
I have an ipod. It was a gift to myself when I went away for teacher’s college. My family has always been pretty big into music and my collection of CDs at the time was in the low hundreds. If I added what my brother had it was more than double that. The prospect of dragging all those CDs to London (Ontario) and trying to find room for them in my tiny apartment was not a pleasant one. So I shelled out three hundred dollars for an ipod classic and spent the better part of a week loading the music off my CDs onto my computer. It was 80 GB (gigabytes) of space and I had plenty of room for all my music. The thing was amazing; one small device had more space than my first laptop. I still have it and though it is out of room and the battery doesn’t last as long as it used to, I have no desire to buy a new one. Mostly because there aren’t nearly as many options as there used to be.
Most ipods have become touch models, which are basically iphones without the phone part. I do think they are really cool devices, but I’m in the market for large storage and have no desire for bells and whistles. I can still get an ipod classic (and now they are 160 GB) but I can’t justify spending the money when I have a device that still does the job. What bothers me though (and something has to bother me, I’m writing a blog post after all) is that there are no other options for me. Progress has moved the ipods into an area where phones exist instead of where discmen used to be. Phones are so advanced and have so much space that many people don’t need dedicated music players anymore. But I want (and often use) my entire music collection at my fingertips. I find myself asking why they went and changed the ipods in the first place but then I remember that I didn’t get the first generation myself. There is probably a guy out there who wondered why they even bothered changing the first one. Who really needs a new menu system and a colour screen? It just uses more battery. That poor guy doesn’t even have the limited options I have.
It has something to do with everyone having his or her own preferences and needs but when is progress too much or just a money grab? I lived in the VHS era and had a pretty substantial collection of my own (though my parent’s tape collection dwarfed mine). Back in the 90s I was excited for DVDs. Here was a new technology that was going to add a lot to my movie watching experience. I think I was most excited for no more rewinding, but it was also a loss-less video with better sound and picture and extras on the disc. I didn’t like the prospect of buying my collection over again, but I embraced the change. My parents were a little slower to the change but once it became apparent that they wouldn’t have a lot of options they made the switch and so did everyone. But then Blu-ray came along.
Here was a new disc type that, though it could hold more information and therefore have even better picture and sound, neither my parents or I bought into it. It was too much of another change too soon without enough of an upgrade. It was replacing a disc that still worked with another disc that was more expensive and had pretty much the same thing on it. I couldn’t justify it, I didn’t want to start buying all over again. It was progress with no point. At least to me. Plenty of other people I know have made the switch, but now with digital storage so much better and internet speeds on the rise it’s even easier to just get a Netflix account and/or store your media on a hard drive.
I suppose I nullified my own argument (or at least I upgraded it). I have to admit that sometimes there is a benefit to progress and upgrades bit it is always annoying. There is always something to get used to or to learn and when the benefit is small or negligible it doesn’t make a lot of sense. It fells like upgrading things even though they work. My brother and I like to play video games together and we are always flummoxed when we go to play the sequel to a game we enjoyed and everything from the look and feel to the controls are different. My parents can’t stand it when their email is upgraded. What they had worked and the changes are just another thing for them to learn. When things change people tend to get used to it but some features are gone, some new ones are complicated or even pointless. Sometimes though, you end up with something even better than it was before. I can’t imagine using email the same way it was handled in the 90s and using a discman would be a pain now that I have an ipod.
My whole argument is looking at just the scope of my life too. I can imagine that the gramophone raised a few eyebrows along with the car and the TV. I once lived in a house without a computer. Not a big deal for anyone older than me but a crazy thought to those younger. Now I have dozens. Even my ipod is a computer, and its only function is to store and play music. Now I’m faced to admit that this whole post (or even blog) is as pointless as the progress I was deriding. Progress is bigger than people and can lead to some amazing things, but in the scope of people it has the risk of being perceived as pointless and annoying (because sometimes it is).