Apple recently unveiled it’s new cloud service. Google and Amazon did the same thing a while ago. It’s all pointing to a world where all media is stored in the aether and pulled down for us to use whenever we feel a need for it. I do not like this, not at all.
I will admit that the idea of all my music being accessible to me at all times is pretty appealing. Additionally, I have certainly been tempted by readers and the wealth of free classics available. I may, in fact, make use of some of these services, but I can’t imagine ever fully trusting them. There are two reasons for this.
1. If I can’t hold it, is it really mine? Most of the cloud services don’t require you to actually have things on a hard drive. Further, they often control what you can do with the file. Amazon has removed titles from Kindles before. You can loan a book that you buy for your Kindle one time. Once. If you ask me, that means it isn’t really mine. Also, what happens if Amazon or Apple or Google goes out of business? Sure, they all look invincible now, but history is littered with invincible companies that quickly fell by the wayside. If a book or album is really valuable to me, I want a physical copy of it that cannot be taken away by some amorphous corporate entity.
2. The devaluing of art. There is something about digitization that makes people feel that art is disposable. Books, music, film, whatever. It doesn’t matter if we lose it or don’t ever give anything for it because it’s just a file somewhere. But you know, people put a lot of their lives into these things. Writing books is hard. Making music is hard. If we are moving toward a point where, as a culture, we start to view these things as having no real value, well, I’ll just get off right here, then.
Am I being ridiculous? That is totally possible. It may be that this is just a technological transition that I am already too much of an old fogey to understand or appreciate. It may be that we are going to find a new way to value art and artist. But I don’t see it happening and until I do, I’ll be keeping one foot out of the cloud and on the ground.