What’s the problem with iTunes, iPods, and other convenient listening devices, asks The Los Angeles Times’ Steve Almond? Nothing, except for the devaluation of the music experience. He writes: “When I first encountered iTunes, the wildly popular music app that allows fans to compile their own collections and digital library, I was agog. After 20 years of amassing music, I had more than 4,000 albums, most of them stacked precariously in my basement. The more I used iTunes, the more slavish my devotion grew. If I wanted to play a particular song, I no longer had to go hunting through those stacks. I just clicked a button. If I wanted to make a mixed CD — a process that had taken me hours, particularly in the cassette era — I had only to create a new playlist. And if I heard a killer song at a party or on the radio, there was a handy online store where I could instantly download that track for a buck. Not only was my musical archive more organized, it was portable too. Thanks to the wonders of the ever-shrinking iPod, I could carry thousands of songs with me wherever I went, on a device barely larger than a postage stamp. (If you had presented me with this gadget even a decade ago, I’m pretty sure I would have proclaimed you the Messiah.) But for all the joys of such wizardry, I’ve been experiencing a creeping sense of dread recently when it comes to iTunes, a dark hunch that technology has impoverished the actual experience of listening to music.”
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