When I was a child we had vinyl records and CDs but no music streaming services. We had Nikon, Canon and Leica cameras and lenses slow chemical photography, no Instagram. When I was a child we had paper books, no Kindle. No Netflix, to see movies you had to go to a movie theater. When I was a child we had less experiences, but surprisingly, we also had much better quality experiences. Now we live in an era in which everything is accessible in your smartphone or tablet. But the question is, at what quality? For example, people are uploading childhoods to Instagram. But how good will those pictures look when kids grow up? Or you get Alexa to play your music and you have an endless music library with Spotify which is awesome. But the quality of that music? Can you compare an Alexa speaker to a sound systems of the 70s? And now we can watch any movie on Netflix on our iPhone, but how does that compared to going to a movie theater? What we have done is trade quality for convenience in a gigantic scale.
As a result we got a huge backlash, a back to quality movement represented by hipsters. Hipsters see that paper books read better than books on your iPad, or that vinyl records in sound better than a Google Home speaker, or that a picture taken with a reflex camera is better than your Instagram filters on your Samsung. But Hipsters miss out on what is great about mobile, access. Personally I have been thinking about the quality deterioration paradox trying to achieve both, the quality of my childhood with the awesome ubiquity of today. And I have good news here, you can get both!
Examples, we got an amazing projector in our bedroom equivalent to that of a movie theater, a remarkable sound system streaming high quality music. I have been using new digital cameras like the Sony A7 series with old Leica lenses and obtaining great digital photography results. I have been working on projects like Gramofon in which you incorporate digital music streaming to old sound systems and obtain the best of both worlds, an endless music library with great sound. I don’t want to settle for a world in which everything is plentiful but of terrible quality. I think with some work and investment, we can achieve ubiquity and quality.
Follow Martin Varsavsky on Twitter: twitter.com/martinvars