Technological progress comes at us so fast and furious, its claims so inflated, its cautions so ignored, that it’s easy to be swept away by the sort of Wired-magazine techno-utopianism in which every leap forward is ipso facto a good thing. But the more mundane reality is simply that if something becomes possible, and someone stands to make a buck off it, we are convinced it is unavoidable progress, like it or not.
Now you might imagine me to be some old Luddite sitting here with his Woody Allen-style typewriter and listening to scratchy old 78 rpm records, but the fact is I’m typing on my iPad, and I also produce music using a wide variety of software, synthesizers, and digital effects. I embrace technology — when it offers something new, or simply a better way of working. But what I fear is the unthinking adoption of new tech, that gnawing feeling that sometimes we’re moving backwards. The perfect example, of course, is the MP3, the sound of which is significantly thinner and worse than just about every format (vinyl, tape, CD) that preceded it.