Nearly two years ago, I finished migrating ten thousand songs’ worth of CDs into bits; but the racks-full of disks have continued to occupy living-room space. So we bought some sleeves and storage boxes at Staples and have started the process, on an occasional evening, of packing them away.

When might they be unpacked?

  1. Never.

  2. By my children after I’m demented, muttering “Why on earth did Dad keep this around?!”

  3. By a music aficionado late in the twenty-second century, hands shaking with glee; exclaiming “Arvo Pärt!”, “Boney M!”, and “Edgar Winter!”

  4. By a low-paid legal-firm functionary, working to value my estate because litigation has broken out...

  5. ...or because nobody’s left to notice my departure and there’s a public trustee trying to recover value.

  6. By a neo-Goth obsessive who keeps only the Cale, Cave, and Cure tracks. That’s John Cale.

  7. By a guitar-noise obsessive who keeps only the Southern Lord tracks and Neil Young’s Arc.

  8. By an original-instruments obsessive, cackling over the Savall and Norrington, crushing the Stokowski transcriptions derisively underfoot.

  9. By a collector with unimpeachable musical tastes, who finds nothing of interest.

  10. By someone, a few decades later, working with the lights of a hand-wired hand-programmed obsolete-digital-carrier-data-extractor blinking softly at the back of the table.

  11. By the wrinkled hands of a kindly-faced but sort of burnt-out volunteer at a junk shop in a bad part of town run by a religious charity, selling things for dimes to provide much-needed hot meals for junkies welcoming a warm seat out of February’s lashing horizontal rain.

  12. By a recycling-center worker in a stained grey coverall, separating the hard plastic disks from the soft plastic sleeves and sorting them into battered metal bins.

  13. By an intelligent non-human starfarer, picking through remains on a planet despoiled of natural resources but thickly populated with the ruins of strip malls.

  14. Never. That’s most likely, really. I could offer a dozen stories with that ending but they’d be almost all sad.


Comment feed for ongoing:Comments feed

From: Brendon J. Wilson (May 23 2011, at 22:58)

The real important question is how you're organizing them. Alphabetical? Genre? Or...autobiographical? ;-)


From: Jed Wesley-Smith (May 23 2011, at 23:37)

what about by you after you get sued for copyright breach and you need to prove ownership? far-fetched?


From: Daniel (May 24 2011, at 00:00)

15. When your backup plan fails.

16. When you find iTunes did a poor job with that particular lightly scratched CD.

17. When you realize there were hidden tracks you didn't rip.


From: epc (May 24 2011, at 00:06)

4a) a low paid legal employee verifying that you do or do not have a given track which the RIAA or CRIA have chosen to sue you over for no good reason other than that they can.


From: JulesLt (May 24 2011, at 03:01)

Have you read Century Rain? Where archeologists keep going back to a pre grey goo Earth for pre-Internet artefacts (convenient for an SF author as this means no cultural record past the early C20th). I'm thinking of cubing mine - I figure that without the plastic cases they're effectively worthless (any future collector is going to be attracted to the physical artefacts not the digital content).

And before I do, I still have to rip most of them again, this time lossless.

(one thing that puzzles me is why 'no one' has tried to compete with Apple by focusing on the audio quality of their phone/mp3 players. I mean no one outside the market for DACs)


From: Joakim E (May 24 2011, at 07:06)

Keep them.

They should be considered hardcopy backups of your digital media files.

Your proof of ownership, should you be challenged that you legally purchased them.


From: active_ant (May 24 2011, at 08:47)

I am enamored of #13.


From: Doug K (May 24 2011, at 11:01)

when we moved house all the LPs, cassettes, and CDs were packed. They have not yet emerged although much of the pre-CD music wasn't digitized and I miss it. If I live long enough to retire, maybe there will be time to go back, otherwise I suspect 1.

Cleaning out my parents' collection of LPs was a combination of 2 and 11, plus a version of 10. No story ends happily, excepting only the art we make..


From: Ian (May 24 2011, at 11:14)

Regarding number 6: don't bother packing them away; I'll be right there to pick them up. ;)


From: hawkse (May 24 2011, at 12:04)

You wouldn't consider shipping them, would you? But then... you'd have to delete your digital copies, wouldn't you?

Keep them. You'll probably need them sooner or later.


From: Robert Carpenter (May 24 2011, at 13:02)


You probably don't want to hear about this now that you've finished digitizing your collection, but there's a service at that will A) digitize your CDs, B) send you the digitized versions on DVD or external disk, and C) pay you in cash or various electronic toys for the CDs, which they keep.

We did this for our >4000 CD collection, one of the best things we've done of late - we got some shiny iProducts (+ a few bucks), and didn't have to spend endless hours feeding CDs into a computer.

I think they'll accept the CDs and not digitize them, you'll probably get a better return in exchange.



From: Ted Mielczarek (May 26 2011, at 09:26)

I just hit a similar situation today. Thankfully our collection of CDs is much smaller, it occupies a box that used to hold reams of paper. It's been sitting in our attic for a few years, and I guess I'll move it to our next house. Maybe then I should just donate it and be done with it.


From: rt (May 29 2011, at 13:10)

ditto DVDs, ditto BlueRay, ditto Photos, and everything else that can be digitised. When your music bit lockers online become viable, then you'll have nothing at home but a link to the Internet and a playback device. Is this progress?


From: John Dougan (May 31 2011, at 14:05)

By an archivist in the 22nd century, shaking with relief at at last finding replacements for what was lost in the 2075 fire.


From: Kevin Marks (Jun 01 2011, at 16:38)

I hope you archived them as uncompressed files. That way bit errors are localised, whereas if you compressed them, even losslessly, a single bit error could lose the rest fo the file.


From: Mike (Jun 02 2011, at 01:22)

I fondly recall the look on my older son's face when, some years ago, him aged 20-something, he discovered my packed-away collection of vinyl. He was bouncing around for days in happiness.

There's a whole bunch of albums there that never made the transition to CD because they wouldn't earn enough cash for the companies that own the copyrights.


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