Sunday, January 3, 2010

Maintaining Warmth in the Digital Cool

When I was younger I used to record musicians on tape recorders. There are people alive today who have never used a tape recorder. The problem with this medium was that it had a terrible hiss when played back. It was called tape hiss. But it still sounded very pleasing ( alongside this hiss) and was faithful to the sounds the musicians were making. This was particularly so with vocals. There was a warm quality to the recorded sound. Those strange vinyl discs produced the same luscious sound. In musio tech this was called the analog world of sound. Then we started using computers to record sound and we listened to music on compact discs or CDs. This was the digital world of sound. I remember first hearing a CD played at a tech show in the Exhibition buildings back in the early 80's. It sounded amazing. It sounded pristine and clear. But it sounded cold. As cold as ice. Scarily cold. Machine-like. Artificial.Distant. Non-human.

Now we take this sound quality for granted.

So too has our way of communicating become cold. The short text message is as cold as one can get. I have been using the xx at the end of every message I send in order to warm it up a bit but even xx sounds cold. Like a cancelled cancelled at the end although it's supposed to be kisses.

Every discussion I have engaged in , particularly if it is a debate on some matter ends up in argument because everything feels so cold. Every word is ice.

But teenagers are the masters of tech right?

If you stumble upon a communication eflow ( electronic or email flow- flow of electronic communication-- like it? I made that one up- cool eh?) of a teen, it looks decidedly crazy nonsense. They are oblivious to the coldness of their media and in fact feel cool using it. They don't even see that something is lacking. Warmth. Teens are cool at the best of times but now they are downright frigid.

So how do we maintain warmth now that it is a digital world of communication?

The answer is - we can't. We will just grow accustomed to it. And the next generation will know no better.

Sad isn't it?

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