Ziggy Stardust and Digital Media’s Emotional Void

One Saturday many years ago, I left my first job as a clerk in a South London cheese shop, the pocket of my Sta-Prest trousers filled with the coins for my day’s labor, and ducked and weaved my way through the barking crowds until I reached the second-hand record store. Then, slowing my pace to what I deemed a record-store-appropriate saunter, I headed in. Dust, and the smell of musk and vinyl, flooded my nose. A welcome change from poisses de Bourgogne.

I left clutching David Bowie’s “Ziggy Stardust.” The cover was dog-eared, the vinyl scratched in several spotscheese-store pay wasn’t enough for a new LPbut it was mine. My first vinyl record.

You’ll indulge me this little trip down memory lane because you also have fond recollections of buying your first record. I know this because I’ve asked. At South by Southwest I asked 1,000-plus audience members what first album and/or DVD they remember buyingI offered Austin’s finest vinyl records as gifts for the best answersand I got 95 percent participation. Then I asked who remembered their first digital download, and only 5 percent could answer.

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