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Keeping ideas in the open

“The thing about records was that they didn’t feel like closed ideas. They were ideas you could open and ideas you could use. And that’s what my dad did. He played records in the house. The memories are so vivid for me.” -Questlove
Analog girl in a digital world. -Erykah Badu

The first quote above is from Creative Quest by Questlove (get that book, y’all). He is  talking about how he used to love his father’s record collection as a kid. He was exposed to so much good music in so many different genres because of that record collection. Surely that open access contributed to what he later became. We’re all so into our phones that I’m afraid, if we aren’t careful, our children and others around us could be missing out on so much due to digital technology.

I love digital. Don’t get me wrong. I love that I can store several books, tons of music, a dictionary, videos, and more on my phone and carry it all in my pocket. I love that I can read any book in my kindle library whenever I find myself having to wait somewhere.

But that Questlove quote reminded me of the record collection that I grew up around. The Isley Brothers, Michael Jackson, the Jackson Five, Stevie Wonder, The Hawkins Family, The Gap Band, Earth, Wind, and Fire, and so much more. My mother would play those records all weekend. It’s like the soundtrack of my childhood.

I used to sit, while she was away at work during the week, and flip through all of those records. I’d play them even though I can’t remember if I was really allowed to or not.

I have tons of books in my house. I keep them around in physical form because I’ve always been in love with the idea of having a personal library with thousands of books. My kids pick these books up and read them. My library includes books on theology, picture books, fiction, art, business, and so on. I’m sure that my kids have read books they wouldn’t normally read simply because they are sitting on my shelves. They are out and available.

I started purchasing records after I was given a record player as a gift a couple of years ago. It was one thing for me to stream songs from Spotify over my speakers (I still do this and, in terms of spreading it around, it’s much better than just listening to the music through headphones) but it’s another thing entirely when people can flip through a collection. I love doing that when I visit the homes of friends who have their own collections of records and books. I learn so much about them by seeing what they like to listen to and read.

Here is another even more important issue related to digital vs analog. We are a society that spends a lot of time on our phones. We get our news, music, social interaction, etc… from that little device. And though I love that I can store books on my phone, I’m aware of what reading on my kindle looks like to my kids. To a child, reading books on your phone and scrolling through social media on your phone look exactly the same. I want my kids to have memories of seeing me curled up on the couch relaxing with a book. I’m sure that my own memories of my grandfather sitting in his wingback chair in the living room reading each evening are one of the reasons I love to read so much now.

So, digital is bomb. I’ll always love it and use it. But sometimes it’s better to read a “real” book or throw a record on.


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