Sentimentality of property

by Rob Horning

20 January 2006


You’ve discovered that a CD in your collection has gone out of print and is now selling on eBay for $75. Do you: (1) Get excited and immediately list it for sale, (2) appreciate the fact that its going rate is closer to the priceless value you place on it, and think how all of your collection will someday be so vindicated, or (3) regard the news with utter indifference? Both speculators and collectors love this kind of discovery, but for the opposite reason—one enjoys realizing what the other enjoys more as a potentiality.

How one answers probably shows something about how far along one is toward accepting the digital future and how tied to the sentimentality of physical property one is. There’s nothing romantic about a digital file (yet? CD’s used to seem a lot more soulless) the way there is with a collection that you can contemplate in terms of size and extent. It seems likely to me that at some point one will pay a subscription fee to have access to just about everything that ever was recorded, and it will just be out there in cyberspace, rendering music collections moot. What will would-be music collectors do instead (besides blog about what they once would have collected?)

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