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18 May, 2010

Changing times

I haven't watched broadcast TV since mid/late March, nor bought a CD within the past 6-7 months.  How did that happen?

My TV still gets used for DVDs, of course, but I simply haven't been inclined to use its broadcast receiver. My life has changed fairly radically since November (overwhelmingly for the better, though it's been tough), and I have even less time or intellectual vacancy to invest into passively consuming whatever crappy gameshows or partial, excessively-editorialised 'news' coverage happens to be available at a given moment.
I'd already been receiving a broader, multisource overview of the latest news, supplemented by 'raw' data, via the web; now that's virtually 100%. Less expected has been my total switch to watching TV on-demand via BBC iPlayer and its ITV equivalent: to date, every single programme I've particularly want to see has been readily available at a time of my choosing via my browser.

My apparent abandonment of CDs has been similarly unexpected, but equally explicable.
It's certainly not that I'm obtaining (entirely legally!) less music: I bought two albums yesterday, in fact. The difference is that I now prefer to download in non-DRM'd, low-compression or VBR .mp3 format (even though the CD of 'Powerslave' was cheaper than the download). The new album from Anathema is due out at the end of the month, and I went to the effort of hunting for a non-'special' edition without 5.1-mix DVD-A, digibook, T-shirt or LP (simple: try Amazon rather than Burning Shed) before acknowledging that I'd rather wait a little longer for a download edition. There's no rush.

It's difficult to overstate the balloon-puncturing effect of my disillusionment with 'special' editions: obscure formats in excessive packaging, glorifying 'the album as artifact' rather than the mere carrying medium of the only part important me, the music itself (artwork can be a bonus, but not at a premium). SW is by far the worst offender, but not the only one; it's a disturbing trend, which I'm not prepared to condone. I don't need 'things'.
There's a pragmatic reason for the shift, too: I don't even recall the last time I listened to music on CD. Everything I've bought in recent years has been immediately ripped to .mp3 anyway; my sole CD player is in my PC, so any alleged sound quality advantage of uncompressed .cda over >192kbps .mp3 is probably negated by the chip fan!

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