The Digital Record Store

Nick Carr sees wisdom in both John Taylor's and John Harris's conflicting views on how technology has changed music:

Like Harris, I appreciate, and certainly indulge in, the ability to leap easily from song to song, artist to artist, with no temporal or physical limitation on the experience of music. There is a sense of liberation in being able to be everywhere now - to be able to indulge in what Harris terms "completely risk-free listening." But I have also shared Taylor's experience of, quite literally, going on a ten-mile bike ride to a record store to purchase a yearned-for record, which would then spin for weeks on my turntable, pulling me ever further into the depths of the music. Taylor's right: it was "a quest of sorts." And as with all quests, there were risks involved.

There are those who, in their desire to sell themselves and others an idealized version of progress, are quick to dismiss all fond personal memories as nostalgia. But some of those memories are not sentimental distortions of the past but accurate records of experience. Taylor argues that, when it comes to music or any other form of art, the price of our "endless present" is the loss of a certain "magical power" that the artist was once able to wield over the audience. I suspect he's right.