The perils of digital decadence

Several years back when I was interviewing someone for an article, I whipped out my trusty tape recorder and the guy just snickered.

”Still haven’t joined the digital age?” my subject asked, obviously rhetorically and just a little snootily.

Of course, these days people would probably laugh even harder at my tape recorder, and not just because I bought it at Radio Shack.

I can’t even get the quality of tapes I used to enjoy using, the CD quality ones, because people don’t like them anymore. (CD quality tape was stronger, and didn’t break easily.)

When flipping through books in bookstores (which will likely drown in the same anachronistic swamp as audio tape), I came across an acknowledgement in the ESPN book, Those Guys Have All the Fun, by Tom Shales and James Andrew Miller.

The authors thanked their long-time transcriber, (clearly there were hours and hours of interviews to type out), and in the acknowledgments they wrote, “all the interviews were recorded on old-fashioned cassette tapes.”

But even with retro technology like vinyl coming back, I don’t know if tape will ever experience a resurgence. 

A friend of mine who transcribed tapes for me when I had more money to throw around, tells me she rarely does transcribing from tapes anymore, and has to pull out her old machine to do so.

Obviously, a lot of transcribing is done on audio files, and I often take things off YouTube, which is great ’cause you don’t have to rewind forever looking for a quote, you can just make a note to go to 1:26 or wherever on the clip.

Musicians especially miss audio tape because you can definitely hear the difference in the digital age, just like vinyl sounds warmer than CDs and MP3s. 

Still, on a personal note, it usually takes me a while to move on to anything more high tech, because the more unfamiliar I am with new technology, the more terrified I am that something will go wrong with it that I don’t know how to fix.

So until I take my first digital steps by recording my interviews, I’ll make sure to hoard as much analog tape as I can.