…comes great responsibility, or so the saying goes.
The trials and inevitable pitfalls of constructing an “instant record collection”.
So, I have offered to gift my nephew, well both of them really and thus by default, their parents as well, one of my old iPods. On the one hand this might seem completely banal. Take the thing, throw it in a box, and mail it off. In this case however, it is not nearly so straightforward.
What is an iPod really? Well, as designed it is miniature digital music library. Granted, there are now many different versions with different capabilities, but music is what they were designed for. And for music collectors, that is really cool. No more briefcases full of cassette tapes, no more cd wallets, full of scratched and mostly useless compact discs. Neither however is there a need for shelving units full of vinyl, which is actually a shame, but that is a different discussion. No, just gigabytes of digital “space” that one can fill up with digital files, thus allowing one to carry around all, most, or part of a “record” collection in a pocket. Pretty fabulous really.
However, the device requires certain infrastructure; as with many things. In this case, there is the music of course, but more importantly, there is the question of how to “transcribe”, as it were, said music from whatever pre-existing medium it currently exists in onto said iPod. This, though, is contingent on many things.
If one has primarily cd’s, or more likely of late digital music files (mp3, aac, etc.), then one can install iTunes (or something similar) on a computer, load the music into the digital library, plug in said iPod and off you go. However, if one’s music collection exists in a more esoteric medium such as cassettes or vinyl records, then, well, this requires significantly more elaborate technology. Again however, this is a different, albeit related, discussion that I will forego at the moment.
In the end, the most vital piece of infrastructure is some form of computer interface with an acceptable amount of digital storage and an appropriate operating system. This does not take into account the requirements for maintaining, nor updating, the iPod, which is another issue I will forego discussing at the moment. Why, you ask? This seems important you suggest? Well, back to the original subject at hand…
So, I have offered to gift my nephew… well, see above.
Without going into the details of other peoples’ lives, suffice to say I am gifting said iPod pre-loaded with music. An instant record collection if you will. This way, none of the prerequisite infrastructure is needed. Rather, all that is needed is said iPod and some means of listening to it (headphones, speaker dock, etc.). Well and some means to recharge the internal battery but that is simple. But, herein lies the complication that the title of this post alludes to.
A “typical” digital song requires roughly 2-3 megabytes (MB) per minute of music, or so says the interwebs… SO, given an average of 8 or so songs per album, each of which are roughly 4 or so minutes long (and I am being incredibly vague here on purpose or else this thing will never get written), a “typical” album runs roughly 32ish minutes long thus requiring 60 to 90ish MB of digital space.
iPods have varying digital capacities, measured in gigabytes (GB). 1 GB = 1000 MB and the iPod I am choosing to gift has a capacity of 16 GB (16000 MB). SO, forcing myself to do some more math here, if we round it out to say that an average album is an even 80 MB, I could fit 200 albums on said iPod.
A pretty tall order, in a sense.
BUT, here is the rub. My entire digital library is roughly 60 GB strong. SO, not only do I have to choose somewhere around 200 albums, I have to determine which 200 out of the many hundreds (I lost count a while back) of albums should go into this particular library… which, if you will recall is effectively for 4 different people.
BUT, that is not the real catch. No, the real catch is the power that is implied in this level of responsibility. My choices of music could potentially have some influence over the lives of others… and I know that sounds overly dramatic, but this comes from a person to whom music is a very powerful and important influencing factor in life. Making a “mix tape” is one thing. That is like sending a greeting card. This is more like giving someone a scholarship.
On the one hand I have to choose based on what I think he/they might like, but I also need to take into consideration elements such as age, personal life histories, interests, family activities, etc. I know something of the existing tastes of the family members (some more than others) so there is that factor, but there is also the question of how much to include music that I might want them to like… or feel it is very important that they at least have the opportunity to experience.