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Remote storage clouds musical debate

A couple of weeks ago, NPR correspondent Bob Boilen announced on his blog that he’d deleted his cache of 25,000 digitized songs and had entrusted his musical future to a cloud.

If Boilen has his head in the clouds, then so do such studiously lucid companies as Google, Amazon and Apple.

The cloud to which Boilen refers forms when you let a corporate entity store your digital stuff at one or more remote locations so that you can access it from anywhere using many different devices.

You’re supposed to be able to merge your personal cloud with someone else’s personal cloud.

I have no idea how it works but it all sounds meteorologically chummy.

Cloud services are all the rage or will be as soon as Google, Amazon and Apple can convince a lot more people to get enraged about them – enraged in the best sense, of course.

Now, I freely admit the likelihood that I am among the last citizens of the Republic of Punditry who should be touching upon this subject.

My own music storage system is called the Dust Storm and it consists of CDs (and even a few shameful cassettes) swirling around my house alongside loose papers and dust bunnies and settling in unpredictable places.

But I must press ahead and ask a question that will so quickly and unequivocally brand me as clueless, it will seem as if a branding iron must have been involved: What sort of person needs to own, and have instant access to, 25,000 songs?

Now, I know there are people at the SETI Institute who monitor radio waves from the stars and who believe, as Steven Spielberg apparently did in 1977, that aliens communicate in song.

A person like that might need instant access to 25,000 songs if only to forestall an alien invasion.

But how does someone communicate with extraterrestrials in song when all he knows for certain about the aliens’ language is that “We Built This City (on Rock and Roll)” automatically triggers an invasion?

Perhaps I’m getting a little off track here.

My point is this: A man of normal intelligence and memory who stockpiles 25,000 songs is a guy who may be able to tell you at any given moment how many songs he owns, but who is never able to tell you all their names.

I don’t know Boilen, but a 25,000-song stash cries out for pruning, it seems to me.

Ask yourself, Bob: Do I really need Tiny Tim’s cover of “Strange Fruit” or that version of “Purple Haze” by that orchestra consisting entirely of piccolos?

Some professional organizers believe that people who store some of their stuff in public storage facilities have misidentified the problem and its solution.

The problem may be too much stuff, not too little storage.

So if someone has so much music that he has to store it in a public storage facility, is it possible that he has too much music?

I am not saying I know the answer. I am just floating the question.

Floating it … like a cloud.

What I do know for certain is that “Music Hoarders” would make for a pretty weak reality show. For one thing, music hoarding doesn’t attract vermin, unless you count the ones that were there in the first place (I refer, of course, to the louse who invented Autotune).

I used to be a music hoarder.

I obsessively collected, accumulated, and collated music.

When I fell in love with a new artist, I was not happy until I owned everything associated with that artist, including Tiny Tim covers and piccolo remixes.

Then, a few years back, I figured out that my obsessiveness was actually detracting from my enjoyment of music.

So I became more serendipitous about music.

I don’t feel like I have to own every piece of music I take a liking to anymore.

Owning 25,000 songs, whether they’re stored in a cloud or on the ground, sounds more like a burden than a boon to me.

Steve Penhollow is an arts and entertainment writer for The Journal Gazette. His column appears Sundays. He appears Fridays on WPTA-TV, Channel 21, WISE-TV, Channel 33, and WBYR, 98.9 FM to talk about area happenings. Email him at spen@jg.net. A Facebook page for “Rants & Raves” can be accessed at www.facebook.com/pages.

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