At work today, a co-worker made an unusual comment. He said he missed floppy discs. He missed them for the reason that they were self-contained “topics”. Like, this disc will boot your computer. This one will load a game. This other one is a word processor. That thought is actually going back quite a ways, before hard drives were common. But his recollection was good, miming flipping through a box of discs, looking for the precise one you wanted or needed.
Later, I saw another (yet another) article about the death of CDs – who was buying CDs? What kind of crazy people are doing this? Why aren’t they gone yet? This made me reevaluate my own situation and I found that I had this same thought earlier in the day talking about floppy discs.
A CD is a self-contained “topic”. It’s a capsule of time in a band’s lifetime. It’s how they were “then”. And when you’re browsing through a collection of CDs, like flipping through floppies, you may be looking for a specific something and you stop flipping when you find it.
This is not the same satisfaction you get when searching your hard drive, or opening your music software, or browsing your music device. Although I didn’t think much about it back in the floppy days, that satisfaction was probably found there too. It’s a confirmation – “I got it!” And that’s reason to celebrate.
Searching (or seeking) physical items is also a totally different mental and emotional experience. Consider this. You’re in the mood for some music. You want something to pep you up. When dealing with virtual media, you handle your choice “offline” (which sounds backwards, but hear me out). Your thought is, “What band/album makes me feel like smashing down walls?” And then you run through your mental list of bands or albums and settle on, say, Dokken.
If you have a physical collection, you have the same desire for an album, but instead of processing the results in your head, you flip through the discs and evaluate each disc one by one, an “online” process. “Does this album make me feel like smashing down walls?” Maybe yes, maybe no. And when the answer is yes, it’s a confirmation – “I got it!” and you’re hyped to start.
It’s kind of a stretch to use the floppy disc analogy with everything, because I can’t recall feeling triumphant about finding WordPerfect and saying, “Now I get to work!” But games, or other sources of entertainment, like CDs, would be.
The point I wanted to make earlier, but now this post is bullshit-long, is that choosing a floppy or a CD is a deliberate act. This is in contrast to any streaming or cloud service recommendations, or a random pick from a plethora of folders.