Apple announced this week that stop making the ipod and suddenly, seeing that beautiful thing again, some of us feel a nostalgic outburst. But can we call it that—nostalgia—when it was only released 20 years ago? In fact, what the iPod meant has not disappeared, rather it has been transformed into other versions of itself. We may miss the typewriter, and the old hi-fi stereo, and even the first walkman, but I’m not sure the iPod deserves our nostalgia.. In addition, digital evolution is moving so calculatedly fast – as you know at Mobile World Congress – that perhaps it also speeds up that feeling of emptiness and loss that comes with nostalgia.

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Those of us who have lived through the transition from the analog to the digital age are likely to be more prone to this maladjustmentbecause we grew up giving sentimental value to objects that revealed worlds to us and filled our time: books, records, video tapes… There was a sense of ownership and, suddenly, everything started to go very fast. In 2001 I had bought a very expensive, precious MiniDisk that could record dozens of compacts on a single disc and was destined to be the great revolution: a year later, the iPod turned it into an old device. Music was stored on the Internet and now we were learning new words: MP3, USB, Emule, Napster… In 2008, during a trip to New York, some friends told me about Pandora and Spotify: web pages where you could listen to the music to your liking, make lists of songs and in exchange they would sneak you an ad from time to time (like on the radio, wow). In New York that year there were people who freed up space in their tiny apartments by leaving boxes full of vinyl on the street; meanwhile, in a renovated coffee shop on Bleecker Street, once one of the temples of the ‘beat’ generation, some 20-somethings charged you five dollars for a coffee and played music by the Velvet and Leonard Cohen on a thunderous record player, but I wanted to make you feel like you were in the 70s.

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The counterpoint to digital evolution is that manufacturers have forced us to learn something that is not in the instructions: the ‘planned obsolescence’. One day, what you bought thinking it would last half a lifetime starts to cause problems; So you go to the store to fix it and a young man says that fateful phrase: “It’s better for you to buy a new one.” You listen to him, and when you get home, you put the old, not-quite-old gadget in a drawer, along with other perfectly designed gadgets that have suddenly become outdated. You look at them for a few seconds and repress the rush of nostalgia again, until next time. They say that space is full of useless objects, electronic waste from satellites that one day stopped working, and now eternally orbit around the earth. The iPod, cell phones and other gadgets are our space junk. Meanwhile, in my neighborhood it just opened another vinyl record store.


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