The Experience of Quality

I just sat down and did something I haven’t done in awhile. You see, I have been somewhat busy lately, trying to fit as much as I can into each day, and giving 100% to a couple projects. So tonight, I went into my home office, closed the door, and powered up my stereo.

I am an audiophile, which means that powering up the stereo is just that. The vacuum tubes in my equipment need a few minutes to grow from a dim light to a bright glow.

This equipment has been idle for some time, as I have grown addicted to the immediate satisfaction and portability of my iPod. Most of my listening time recently has been spent on the train during my commute, or on my living room system, as I rush through the apartment between shaving and ironing in the morning.

So tonight is special.

You never expect the unexpected, even when you think you do. So when I play a recent favorite album of mine that I have only experienced through the iPod, my jaw almost drops. Through that tiny gadget, your hear beautiful music. Through my full system, you feel it.

The range of sound, the nuances of tiny plucks on an instrument, and details that were invisible through a lesser system. The quality of the music and the engagement of all it evokes simply fills the room, my mind and my life.

While my iPod has allowed me to experience an incredible quantity of music, it has certainly robbed it of quality. But it is not all the gadget’s fault. When with the iPod, I am often multitasking or in an evironment that does not befit the music I listen to. It is only locked away in a quiet room, with nothing else to do that I can really experience all the music has to share.

I, of course, can’t help but drift this metaphor to my life online – with blogs, journalism, media, and the many nuances of each. As the blogging culture evolves and matures, will we eventually miss the quality of that well researched, well thought out, long form article or book?

Not that they won’t still exist. I am not predicting the end of the book or article. But will we be open to it. Will we experience it on its terms, instead of our own. Will we need to multitask it into our lives, or will we be able to sit, for a moment, and just listen.

And not follow that moment with a “comment.” Not follow that moment with a click. Not follow that moment with an email, IM, podcast, video, blog, or phone call. Not follow that moment with anything. Just allowing ourselves to have that moment.

It must be Sunday night…