Life Digitized

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Goodbye, college! Welcome to the cloud 🙂

A year ago I committed to going paperless and moving into the cloud. Now over twelve months later, I finished scanning and organizing everything that remained from high school and college:papers, tests, handouts, course readers and anything I might like to access again at some point. I also scanned all personal administrative, financial and legal documents that sat around collecting dust. I will recycle all of this paper and breathe a deep sigh of relief that I no longer have to cart  all that dead weight around.

The first thing you might be thinking is, “Craig, why would you go to all this trouble for documents you may never read again?” To anyone who knows me and my obsession with cataloging my life, this should not surprise you. To everyone else, my answer is not straightforward. The honest truth is, “just in case.” I might want to reference these documents again. Yes, clinical psychologists today have a term for that behavior: “hoarder.” Better and a totally different paradigm, I think, to hoard information that takes up zero physical space than piles of crap everywhere. Fancy me a “digital packrat.”

Some documents I refer to on a regular basis. Others I enjoyed rediscovering as I scanned them. The rest I will likely never see again. But at least now they’re organized, searchable (Google recognizes optical characters in PDFs and extracts information as searchable text) and accessible from anywhere. No more piles of paper to dig through or carry around. There are over 2,500 documents in my school folder alone, many of them tens or even hundreds of pages long. That’s a metric shit ton of dead trees!

Life in the cloud is certainly cleaner, lighter and easier. All of my files are mirrored across Google Drive, Dropbox and external hard drives (with the exception of over 14TB of video that I have not found room for in the cloud yet). I can access them all from my phone on the go and from any computer I can sign into. Google’s omni search bar finds not only web search results, but results from within email, contacts and all of these documents. Sometimes I search for a term and find the answer to my query in a class handout from years ago. Pretty wild. I suspect access to my personal information ecosystem will only get better from here.

So while it might not be as useful to me now, there’s no telling what fruits this project might yield in the future as the technology gods evolve.

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Pays Versus Plays: The Future of Digital Residuals

My MP3 play count for “I’m Not The One” by The Black Keys:  43

My MP3 play count for “Down for Whatever” by Ice Cube:  2

Who deserves more money, at least on my behalf? Well, obviously The Black Keys.

The way things are now, they each get the same. I purchased both MP3s for 99 cents and each artist collects a whopping 9 cents of that. Not fair, huh? The Black Keys should definitely get a bigger chunk of my money than Ice Cube (and a bigger chunk of that 99-cent MP3 sale, but that’s a different point). If an artist earns more plays, he or she should earn more dough. But it has never worked that way for consumer media ownership – pay for the album once and never have to pay for it again.

Artists theoretically collect more money per program their songs are used in. Current performance rights organizations (ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, and SoundExchange) use abstract systems of surveys and credits to track television, radio and public space plays to determine artist payments. Their systems are just as arbitrary and myopic as the Nielsen ratings. Needless to say, artists’ residuals are not accurate and cannot reflect the actual popularity of their music.

As digital space envelopes us, tracking is becoming easier and easier. By the end of the year, I predict that our entire music library can be synced to the cloud (Grooveshark has offered library uploading for a long time and Google Music sounds like it will be a formidable competitor in this space). Eventually, all music will be trafficked through the Internet. When this happens, play count data can be synced and shared. Artists and record companies can finally get accurate reporting on their play counts (and even more accurate insight into audience reception). Artists can get paid the portion they deserve, at least next to other artists. Plays will become more valuable than pays.

The trick is getting money into the system. I don’t think Google will have a problem with that, though.