Wednesday, January 06, 2010


“Compact” discs

I read this item on BoingBoing:

My parents are moving out of the home I grew up in next month, which means I have to go through all my stuff and get rid of most of it. I’m donating my old clothes and manga and stashing away photo albums in a storage box, but my biggest dilemma is this: what should I do with my high school CD collection?
...and I thought a few things; you might say that I had an epiphany:

  1. I remember when I bought my first CDs and my first CD player, in 1985 (I actually got some CDs first, so that I’d have something to play when I bought the player). I thought the technology was so cool, so leading-edge. Timeless. And, here, Lisa Katayama (who’s obviously lots younger than I, but still in an intermediate generation, so she knows what CDs are — will today’s kids ever bother with them at all?) "[doesn’t] even have a CD player anymore." Are CDs going the way of 8-track tapes?
  2. CD collectionNone of the music she talks about considering whether to save is anything I’d ever THINK of listening to. (Well, except for the Cranberries; I actually do have a Cranberries CD, but that’s the group she’s rejecting most definitively.)
  3. Comment 4 gives some really useful advice, and I wonder if I should do that. See photo to the right. The rack on the left is classical; the one on the right is everything else.
  4. I realized that I could take those two racks of CDs and stick all the music on them onto a single hard drive that I can hold in the palm of my hand, even if I chose a lossless option. Working some round numbers, 2000 CDs with an average of 500 MB used on each comes to 1 TB. Here are a couple of 1 TB drives for under $100 each (as I write this). The iomega one is even in a groovy “midnight blue” colour.
  5. Reading the comments reminds me of the rather violent slang we have for transferring music to and from CDs: we rip them and burn them. Why is that?


Ray said...

I once dated a girl whose home contained a room that was, literally, lined with rack upon rack of LP records. Every wall in the room. From floor to ceiling. It was stunning.

I remember the room. I have zero recollection of the girl's name :-)

Call me Paul said...

The problem is that CDs are a far more permanent storage solution than a computer hard drive. I've had to replace my computer four or five times due to catastrophic HDD failures. I'm still listening to the first CD I ever bought (Pink Floyd's Momentary Lapse Of Reason - 1987).

Barry Leiba said...

Oh, good point, Paul.

On the other hand, I suppose it's possible that we might not have CD players readily available at some point (I'd have no way to play an eight-track tape now), while the disks can always be copied / backed up to new media.

But, yes, comment 4's idea of just getting rid of the plastic cases, but keeping the discs, is best for archival.

Nathaniel Borenstein said...

Don't worry, Barry I can help you. I have two 8-track players and an 8-track *recorder* in the room I call my technology museum. (I also have a Tektronix 4010 graphics display terminal and all sorts of similarly useless crud. Most notably, I even have a bunch of the old analog video disks (LP-like technology, two huge 12" disks per normal length movie) and *two* machines that can play them. As long as there are crazy people around, your old media wil be retrievable!

Barry Leiba said...

Geez-Louise! And here I thought I was saving junk, because I still have an APL typeball for a 2741, a System 360 "green card", and several flow-chart templates.

I'm but a dilettant.

Michelle said...

You can play CDs on a computer can't you? One doesn't really need a player for them anymore. Or am I mistaken?

If some time in the future the eternal "they" will stop making computers with cd drives as we know them today, well yeah. That should leave people with enough time to store the data somewhere. Which kind of brings us back to square 1. If and when it happens. I spose..

Barry Leiba said...

Right. When I cleaned out my office, I got rid of piles (piles...) of diskettes that I can't read any more, and a bunch of Zip disks that I no longer have a reader for. I have no doubt that we eventually won't bother to equip computers to read CDs.

As you say, though, we can defer any real action until then, and it's probably some years yet.

Thomas J. Brown said...

When I read the BB post a couple of days ago, all I could think was, "Hmm. I would keep the Cranberries and ditch the rest." I'm glad to see I'm not the only one with that opinion. -)

I recently ripped all of my CDs to my HDD, but I still have the discs in a box.

Call me Paul said...

A friend of mine has done as you suggested, Barry. After burning all his Cds to an HDD to supply his multi-room wireless music server, he stored the discs and booklets in plastic sleeves in binders, and threw out the hard cases.