The loss of history with streaming

Fascinating article on what we give up when we give up ownership of our own libraries of art. (I avoided using content deliberately. The word bothers me at the artful core of my being.).

And this is why I keep records, CDs, and the machines to play them near to hand and heart.

In E.M. Forster’s speculative 1909 novella The Machine Stops everyone lives in subterranean apartments designed for maximum convenience and efficiency, in which all an occupant’s needs are met by the machine. Food is ordered, friendships are maintained, lectures are given, music is streamed, and so on, all from one centralized machine, accessible to all residents of Earth. Sound familiar? But then the protagonist, a woman called Vashti, pulls up a symphony only to find that it has a glitch. She complains to the authorities, but nothing is ever done to fix the glitch. Eventually, Forster writes, “time passed, and they resented the defects no longer. The defects had not been remedied, but the human tissues in that latter day had become so subservient, that they readily adapted themselves to every caprice of the Machine. The sigh at the crises of the Brisbane symphony no longer irritated Vashti; she accepted it as part of the melody.”

Is that what we will do? As our content, our history, and our memories are revised in deference to ever more exacting standards of purity? Will we simply resign ourselves to revisionism and accept the defects as part of the whole?



Interesting viewpoint and historical reference. There is really nothing that hasn’t been done before in one form or another. Most of it long forgotten by the many.


Wauw, that is indeed kinda deep. But black also. As far as I am concerned things got better because of the machine. Like in the book the machine lets artists make music, the machine streams it to us or produces LP’s or CD’s, the machine lets you and me communicate and makes my visit to PS Audio next November possible. When I get real old the machine may help me walk.

In short: The glass is either half empty or half full…

P.S. We do need to know where the kill switch of the machine is…!

I think it is naive to compare airplanes, audio equipment, anything mechanical, or electronic, to the “Machine”.

The Machine obviously represents artificial intelligence. We have people working on self driving cars. We have those devices that we can tell what to do, play music, place orders, and lots of other tasks. At this point they are making your life easier, but they are also learning to anticipate our needs, to solve problems. It won’t be long before that ability to learn, giving them access to our history, may allow them to understand self preservation. Being machines, I doubt that we will be able to teach them compassion, empathy, love, or loyalty.
That off switch will be disabled.
At 64 I doubt this will happen in my lifetime, but all it will take is some inventor, trying to solve something, giving his machine free will and adaptability.
Is this just some derivative science fiction or a very real possibility? I have no idea, but peoples dependence on smart phones, and now those home devices, indicates to me that it could happen.

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Yup Jeff… You are 64, I am almost 60… We better check out our own “off” switches daily…