Thursday, June 20, 2013

Tickets Torn in Half

I guess it's kind of like the recent nascent revival in vinyl records in our age of digital downloads. Those that remember what life was like just a few years ago, when the grip of computerization was nowhere near as complete as it is today, taking small steps to recapture a small but cherished part of that past.

The audiophiles, never happy with the sound of modern compressed digital files, remember fondly the experience of holding a large 33 rpm album, festooned with wonderful artwork and notes and lyrics to be read over and over as the glorious sterophonic sound dripped out of large comfortable speakers, maybe with an occasional pop or hiss from the well played vinyl disc.

Thanks to the internet, customers have been given the opportunity to print out their own airline tickets, movie tickets, and yes, theater tickets. For a fee (!!!) you get the privilege using your own consumables (read: ink and paper) to print out the tickets to almost any event you might like.

There's a convenience factor in doing this I suppose. The computer often dazzles us with what it can do when connected to the internet. I wonder though, what is gained, and what may be lost in ceding so much of daily life to the computer.

The audiophiles might say that the public has been bamboozled into paying good money for a watered down product. They claim that common digital music files are but a pale and poor replacement for analog music recordings. Depth and range is lost, and while the great majority of people seem to not mind or care at all, "good enough" really isn't good enough for those that know the difference. Hence the small return to vinyl, a niche market for now, anyway.

As far as the home printed tickets are concerned, those full 8 1/2 by 11 sheets of paper that are waved at entries to theaters, they also represent something lost. I can't yet call it a trend, but anectdotally speaking, I have personally dealt with more than a few people that show up at the theater with these full page pictures of tickets  and barcodes and ask for "real tickets" so that they may have them as souvenirs.

What are they really asking for? They remember, as I do, that a "ticket' was once a real thing, not just an ethereal barcode, and it was a marker. A piece of proof positive that at the time and place stated on the ticket, the owner was there and shared an experience with others whose tickets had the same information. It was a sturdy keepsake and for many people a treasured one. Sadly, this is now all going away.

Just because a task can be accomplished digitally, whether it is selling music or tickets to the masses, doesn't necessarily mean it is the very best way to do it. Inevitably and unavoidably, something real gets lost in the mix, and I wonder if we are in anyway at all aware of what we give up as we yield more and more to the digital wave.

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