Von Nau

Is this mp3 file my friend?

Tuesday December 28, 2021

I honestly don’t know. In this case, I’m thinking about a handful of DJ Shadow mp3s that were part of my early digital music collection. Recently, I downloaded a copy of his first album, Endtroducing. I already had about half the album, and I wanted to fill in the gaps. Now, I have to decide, do I keep my original files, and add the songs I didn’t have, or, do I get rid of the older, 128kbps files, and keep only the new ones.

What is the value of a file created date?

It’s one of the best parts of a file. Something about an old file just feels pleasant. It’s very straightforward to “forge” a creation date, but it feels a little funny. It’s maybe not the bits on disk that matter, so much as the story of the file.

For these mp3 files, I don’t even have the original file created date. Or at least the date when I first downloaded them. All I have is the date that I transferred them to my first Mac. Or maybe not even. I think what I have is the date where I re-transferred my music to the Mac, because the first transfer screwed up the file names. Even this could be wrong. And as with the file metadata, the date iself, March 27, 2003, hardly even matters, it’s more about the fact that these are genuinely old files. Or, exact copies of very old files. I’ve had 3 machines since I got them.

When does this become unhealthy?

I know I can go too far with this. When I’m working on creative projects, I place too much value on preservation. For example, If I adjust the brightness of an image, and I wind up only changing it very slightly, I’ll undo, and go back to the original value. I override my own instict because the history is somehow more valuable.

How will I feel if I share this folder full of mixed bitrate files?

This is mostly a private enterprise. My wife shares music with me, but otherwise, no one will ever know or be exposed to my decision. But I’m absolutely going to consider an outside perspective. I imagine a stranger sharing an album with mixed bitrates, and I do not want it.

Is this a waste of time?

Almost certainly. It’s “fun”, but there’s better kinds of fun. More fulfilling. That said, I think I need some moderation, not reform. I need to dial back from overthinking, but remain thoughtful.

In the end

I deleted the old files. I still have their story, even though they are gone. They became material things to me. I want to be careful with my things, but not beholden to them. The music and the stories are my friends. Not the files. Not the things.

They’re actually still in the trash. I haven’t emptied it yet. Anyway, one step at a time.