My Mass Communication class had a chance to play records on a wonky old turntable that barely worked. It was awesome.
They were 78s from the 20s and 30s. These things are pretty old, but really neat. Old Rock Candy Mountain and stuff from before Motown.
Eventually we played an Aretha Franklin tune (God Bless the Child) and listened for about a third of it before crossfading to the exact same track playing on Youtube on the built-in computer and media center in the classroom.
We went from crackle, hiss, and history to a clear digital signal, complete with a video, comments, number of times played, ads, etc. I challenged my class to think about the differences between analog, slow media, and digital, fast media.
Ok so then we read this article called Does Spotify Prove That Lars Ulrich Was Right All Along? by Tom Hawking.
I think this is an awful title, but the article itself is fantastic. It covers, in broad sweeps, the state of the 2000s Napster Music Piracy firestorm with a few main characters written delightfully for context.
What it does an especially good job of is putting current music distribution and consumption into context with the 90s and 2000s model.
A fair step removed from 78 vinyl and Aretha LPs, but once we look at alternative revenue streams for current artists that include (sometimes exclusively) vinyl cuts, well, the complexity of culture and capitalism, art and argument, distribution and digitization just gets, well, cool.
It was a really excellent class - a lot of fun, and a lot of ideas floating. For those of you who were there, or those of you who wished you had been, what did you think about it all?