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Jan 2010

The Virtual, the Ambient and the Minimalist

During a recent reorganization of my apartment, while I was replacing my many CDs, DVDs and books in the bookshelves, I realized that at least a year had passed since I had listened to one of the CDs in my collection.  The same was true for one of the books I had in hardcopy.  I had no use for these things, nor any desire to continue owning them.

As a matter of fact, the way I listen to music has gradually evolved from a physical CD to a virtual musical environment on my mp3 player and laptop, where I have also begun to watch television on Apple TV.  Over the last year, I have also begun to listen to audiobooks on my Iphone.  I’m even ready to try new reading devices, such as Kindle, which, according to many, promises an interesting on-screen reading experience.

The arrival of video on demand and other web-based television applications allows me to watch movies on a variety of media, making me a much less frequent customer at the video store.  Just as well, since the idea of collecting DVDs is no longer as attractive as it used to be.  I do still buy or rent DVDs from the video store, but only in HD or Blu-Ray, to maximize the visual experience.  The photos of friends, family and vacations in my living room are displayed at random on my big screen television, making the atmosphere more cozy and friendly.

I checked with my entourage, only to find that the majority of my nerdier friends have also adopted new audio and video consumption behaviors.  However, they have yet to adopt audio or digital books, and several people had very emotional connections to the sensation of a real book: the feeling of the hardcopy and the smell of ink on a new book.  If that’s all there is, I’m sure it’s only a question of time before that sensation is no longer possible.

And then, I had an epiphany; Tomorrow…or maybe the day after tomorrow, my home will be liberated from encumbrance of objects. It will be a minimalist, ambient environment where decorations will be projected on the walls and will change to suit my mood.  Getting rid of my CDs and DVDs seems acceptable in my circle, but not getting rid of my books.  How long until that changes?

I like to think that the paradigm shifts currently underway will have an effect on our need for consumption; one that could transform our living environments.  I like to imagine that, as the virtual and the ambient are further integrated into our lives, we will begin to live in more minimalist environments.

And wouldn’t a more minimalist environment be a more environmentally-friendly environment?

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3 Comment(s)

Sunil Vidyarthi

Hello Joelle,
First of all thank you for being so good to my son, Jay.
Second, I have the same problem with books I have been carrying around for over forty years. I don’t think even my grand children will need them. Any ideas on what to do with these once precious objects?


Thx ;=)
I’ve tried to give out my books to the local library, they refused because they already have too many. I can’t believe it’s getting so hard to find a charity that will take my books! Let’s have a book party!

Sunil Vidyarthi

I was going to ship them all to India to the village I was born in but the cost of shipping would be higher than buying them all there. Perhaps we should contact a shipping company who wants to donate their transport and our books.

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