aNewDomain.net — This past Thanksgiving I wrote a column saying we should all be thankful for today’s wonderful technologies. We enjoy television with better clarity than we ever imagined, cell phones that let us communicate with others almost anywhere in the world, and an internet that puts a world of information at our fingertips.
Cell Phones vs. Landlines
Yet, we all know that there is no such thing as a free lunch. There are things that we give up for the convenience of the digital world. Take, for example, the cell phone versus the land-line phone. In the sixties and seventies, land line phones gave most people near perfect connections. When cell phones came on the scene, many of us were like the Verizon guy in the now famous commercial where a man kept uttering the phrase, “Can you hear me now?” We still put up with dropped calls, drained batteries, misplaced phones, and complicated operating systems, but not many of us would give up our cell phones. The conveniences they offer are just too good.
Digital Music vs. Analog Music
Music. In the fifties and sixties, people invested a lot of their paychecks in stereo equipment that filled their living rooms with rich, deep melody. Music was judged on the depth and warmth of the sounds it produced as well as the size of the woofers and tweeters that replicated the sound.
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons
Now you can listen to music on a device no bigger than a matchbox. You can carry your music with you everywhere. What did we give up? Quite a bit. While the digital world has improved the quality of many things, music is not one of them. The sound quality of the CDs and MP3s that we listen to today can’t compare to the quality offered by those old analog vinyl disks and that bulky stereo equipment.
Music which played in a continuous analog wave had an infinite range of possible vibrational sounds. Digital music is actually analog music that is cut up into little tiny pieces and put back together again. A good amount of the audio from the music is actually discarded. Normal sampling rates and bit-depths produce enough data to allow our ears to hear a good representation of the audio, but digital music cannot replicate the depth and richness that analog music produces.
The Internet vs. Security
Last but not least on my list of digital diversions that have hidden costs is the internet. This is the place where we give up privacy and security for recognition and ease of use. People have lost jobs because their lives have become public on Facebook. Identity theft, powered by online security flaws, has become rampant. Even our governmental security has become more vulnerable than ever before because of constant cyber attacks.
Yet, I know that I wouldn’t give up the internet, digital music, or my smartphone. Once we get a taste of the sweetness of these digital devices, there is no going back, even if we do have a few “gotchas” to put up with.
Based in Pinehurst, North Carolina, Sandy Berger is a veteran tech journalist and senior editor at aNewDomain.net covering tech tips and tricks, apps and gadgets in general. Email her at Sandy@aNewDomain.net. Follow her on Twitter @sandyberger, +SandyBerger on Google+, and www.facebook.com/sandyberger on Facebook.