Back in the 20th Century I was an avid collector of LPs - Long Playing Records. You know, the big black round things with a spiral groove on each side and a little hole in the middle.
I jumped to CDs when they became popular. All the while I felt I would always need to own a physical medium of something to hold a music collection. Phonograph records, for example, were large and the packaging they came in (the inner sleeve and the cardboard jackets) contained a lot of valuable information. I used to say to folks that everything I knew about classical music came from reading record jackets. That's really not too far from the truth.
Now, I have a collection consisting of hundreds of CDs (and several hundred old LPs as well). My CDs are spread around the house as I have three functioning systems for playback (two surround plus one stereo) plus 4 or 5 computers with CD/DVD playback plus who knows how many battery operated portable CD players lurking in the shadows.
The CDs are out of control. I've actually lost a lot (based on the number of empty CD cases I have). I've noticed that some are unplayable due to scratches. Plus, my eyes with age are so bad I can't read the tiny text fonts used on the CD insert booklets -- a far cry from the LP sleeves of old.
How to proceed is uncertain. There are a couple of high level requirements I need to take into account as I ponder the options:
- Portability - I like to take my music with me when I travel.
- Usability - I'm not the only one who likes to play music around the house. My solution should not be so complicated as to discourage my Spouse from playing recorded music when she wants.
- Maintainability - Digitizing assumes creation and maintenance of an index separate from the collection to help organize and locate the music. Even with my training as a Librarian I want to make this as easy and as painless as possible.
- Flexibility - I have a variety of media -- several hundred old LPs, plus several hundred DVDs (mostly movies). Plus several thousand hardback and paperback books. I'm not countng the VHS tapes gathering dust.
- Compatibility - whatever format I use has to be either a standard or very easily translatable. A sub-issue here is compression technology, but that's a bit technical.
- Affordability - I don't want to spend a lot of money on this.
- PVR technology (Tivo, MythTV, etc.)
- Home networking (wires suck!)
- High definition television (sigh)
- Next generation DVDs (sigh)
- Buying music online (iTunes etc.)