When technology breeds it's own necessity

Take a moment and think back on all the technologies you own. Think about all the features in your phone, your iPod, your wrist watch, and your computer. Think back to when those features first appeared and whether you ever thought you needed them before their introduction. Sometimes it seems like with every new feature, not only do I find myself suddenly needing to use it, but I often have to play catchup just to get to the point where it can be a viable feature.

Now I can attribute this observation to many technologies and features, but right now I'd like to touch on the ability of portable media devices to display the album artwork of the currently playing track. While just about every portable media player now has the ability to display artwork in addition to playing music, this simply wasn't the case back in the days of Napster when mp3s really became popular. There simply was no computer metaphor for flipping through your music collection. Your media appeared pretty much as a glorified Excel document.

Well things have changed and an album's artwork has become the new metaphor for sifting through music. Features like Coverflow, built into Apple's iTunes software, completely abandon the textual view of your music and laterally allow you to swipe through your music library as if you were sifting through the physical discs.

Admittedly, I rarely ever use this Coverflow feature in iTunes, however simply I cannot avoid the effects of album artwork on my iPhone. When you're playing music on your iPhone, the album artwork is not only displayed, but takes up the entire screen. The beauty of the presentation is arguably undeniable. The problem is that when your currently playing track doesn't have any artwork associated with it, you're presented with a generic and unexciting missing artwork image.

Maybe this doesn't bother the average person, but I can't stand the blandness after being treated to the aesthetic delight of a fully artwork supported music sample. So, I have to make use of this feature. There is one major problem inherent in this decision. I've been building my music collection since way before album artwork was a support feature. So, there are huge sections of my collection without artwork at all. This can be an enormous pain when you have a collection with over 1447 albums (and that's just the ones without artwork).

So now here I sit, tirelessly adding artwork, one album at a time. And if I were to continue this, adding art for 50 albums a day, I will eventually finish my collection in about one months time. All this work for a feature I had absolutely zero need for before I was introduced to it.

posted by Christopher Schnese