There's a hard drive at auction for five million dollars. It has a torrent-load of fiction and music and software and other random digital junk obsessively collected. A lot of it is good; I've checked out the list. Most of it, I think, is destined to fall to a value of zero. Now that 'everybody' knows, perhaps only a few will be interested. As I checked, there were only about 4 seeders for the $300,000 collection of English fiction.
Last evening I remembered an old dream of mine which was to become a digital archivist. Once upon a time, I wanted to be the steward of all the richness of African American cultural artifacts that could be put online. I am satisfied at this point, however, that is unlikely to be very useful considering the dilemmas of funding housing for the actual items. Still, there must be some intellectual properties out there worth scavenging and hoarding. But I think that those that do exist are unlikely to be made digital.
This past weekend, I visited BooksOff, the new discount retail meatspace bookstore. The First Daughter and I perused the shelves of $2 Compact Disc recordings. I found exactly 3 worth considering having browsed a complete aisle and told the tale of how all record shopping used to be so risky and tedious. I much prefer the contemporary method, and really don't have all that much nostalgia even considering John Cusak's High Fidelity.
My latest audiobook is Gayle Lynds' Book of Spies which opens with a murder at the annual meeting of the most exclusive roundtable of book collectors on the planet. They quiz each other on the existence of rare histories.
It has been a while since I've visited the Gutenberg Project. So far as I can tell, they keep chugging along, exploiting the gap between lack of attention, liberal arts nostalgia and intellectual property law such as it stands today. If we could compile a list of the people who have read A Pilgrim's Progress, how many would there be? In my spelunking of Western Civilization (what's worth keeping?) I keep finding little but the Long Tail, and most people bedeviled by arcane obsessions or shallow zeitgeist.
I'm preparing to write a book review of Michael Crichton's last book, Micro. But maybe I won't.
Having a life of material comfort is indeed its own reward, but our society doesn't quite know what to do otherwise. There is no Europe for guidance, there are no cherished traditions, there is no canon of literature serving as a framework for the Examined Life. I may have to reconsider the University with my new understanding of its hermetic nature. I think most people of my inclination are in relative hiding. More's the pity.
All that goes to say that it is no longer worth my while to spend money on those artifacts which I and a few others might treasure but hard times and twisted priorities have devalued in society. I shall pinch pennies and torrents and await the New Victorians.