Submitted by Victor
No.. it's not that kind of post. Get your head out of the gutter!
What I'm talking about it stripping down and streamlining one's life. Reducing the clutter.
This has been on my mind increasingly over the past few months and lately it's directly intersected with the realm of entertainment, including reading and writing. Specifically, I wonder if we NEED to have all of these books, DVD's, comics, CD's etc in our physical possession.
We are pretty close to realizing all-digital experience. For me, it started with my music collection. I digitized it years ago and haven't seen one of my actual CD's since (I've got upward of 500 CD's). I used to love putting the CD's on shelves in my media room and just LOOKING at them. I loved seeing the vast collection. But... I haven't seen those CD's in years. And I have to say, I don't miss them even remotely. I have all my music on my computer and my Ipod, every single song is available to me at a moment's notice.
A good friend of mine is in the process of setting up a home media server at his house, with one central computer that holds all the music and photos, and allows for the digitization of DVD's, and the recording of TV shows. And then through his home network, any computer or XBOX can access any of that media content in any room, and even remotely through the internet. If you have enough hard drive space, ALL of your movies, CD's and photos can be captured digitally, allowing you to dispense with having your physical DVD's or CD's take up any space.
Likewise, I've discovered digital versions of my entire comic book collection. As much as I have always loved looking at the physical comics, and flipping through my longboxes, I have to say that the experience of reading the comics on my laptop computer (on a screen that's actually significantly bigger than a comic book) is a superior experience. I've been looking askance at my comic book collection lately, which is taking up a lot of space in my "library", and wondering if it's time to pack them up and put them in storage, or more extreme yet, SELL them all.
So now we come to where this intersects with this blog's primary focus, books. I love my books. More than CD's or DVD's or comics, I love seeing my book collection on my shelves. I love seeing entire series with matching covers all lined up. But I've got a lot of books (not as many as SOME members of Humble Fiction Cafe, you know who you are), and unless I find room for more bookcases, I'm going to have to start going two deep on some shelves. And that, of course, is bringing me to the question:
Again, make no mistake. I love my books. But the allure of streamlining and no longer having to own and store and haul hundreds of books is becoming almost too tempting to ignore.
The recent advent of book-readers like the Amazon Kindle is making the need for having a physical book in your hands almost obsolete. That technology isn't entirely there yet, but it's close. And for that matter, reading a book on my laptop isn't the headache it once would have been. I've already got dozens of great free books that publishers have made available and they are releasing more and more free e-books every day.
One of the rationales for owning and collecting so many books is to be able to have them at one's fingertips should one suddenly need to read them or flip through them. Or perhaps because of the fear that if we don't keep this copy, that we might never see another copy of it again. These were all reasonable concerns back in the day, but now, thanks to EBay and Amazon and all the myriad online booksellers, I challenge you to go to any book in your collection and not be able to find a copy available online. If you REALLY need a book, it can be in your hands overnight.
And if the internet still scares you, there's always the library. With its system of inter-library book loaning, there's hardly any book that's not available to you with only a minimal wait. For FREE!
So DO we need to own books (or any media for that matter)? If, like me, you're about at overload with clutter and STUFF, the thought of totally streamlining and going all-digital with one's media collection is so so so tempting. As I've found with my CD collection, I ultimately don't miss SEEING them.
So where does this lead for those of us that desire to CREATE content? I'll discuss that in part two later this week.