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By |  September 11, 2017 0 Comments

Karl Danneberger, Ph.D.

I store my 1969 Pontiac Firebird in a garage rented from a nearby apartment complex. Like most garages, it’s rather devoid of décor besides some vertical 2x4s. To correct this, I began to look at creating “garage art” and decided to decorate the walls with vinyl record albums that featured cars on the cover. Nothing goes together more than cruising with music blaring from the radio.

My first step was to construct a “picture frame” out of plastic tile trim from the local hardware store so I easily could slide the albums in and out. The second step was to find those 50 or so albums I needed to fill the frame.

I anticipated that finding these types of albums would be difficult given the decline of vinyl and the birth of CDs in the 1980s. The demise was so swift that Sony stopped making vinyl records in 1989. Music delivery has continued to evolve further away from vinyl with the advent of iTunes and streaming. I thought I’d be relegated to flea markets and garage sales.
To my surprise I came across several record stores around Columbus. These stores were like throwbacks to the 1960s and ’70s. I found vinyl albums from back in the day to current recordings. I quickly realized that vinyl record sales have been growing recently at a double-digit pace, and in fact Sony has just re-entered the vinyl market.

I preferred searching through the stacks of $1 albums, because let’s face it… they were for a garage. As I’ve evolved toward being an album collector, however, my price ceiling rose to $20.

I collected records from musicians from the 1950s to now. If a car was on the cover, I didn’t care about the type of music, artist or if the record played (I don’t have a turntable). I realized quickly that I needed to identify the car. What credibility would I have if I didn’t know?

As I identified the make and model of the cars, I started to become curious about the artists and the music itself. Every album had a story. In a short time, I learned and broadened my music expertise well beyond novice to a music connoisseur… at least for bands and music that feature cars on the cover.

Collecting albums allowed me to reflect on how I gather information in my own profession. I have evolved from receiving my information originally in an analog form (physical book, journal, magazine, etc.) to digital. I often look for specific digital things online or a quick answer to my question. My searches are done in the moment and often in a hurry. Just give me the answer! For me, it seems like I have lost a degree of curiosity in what I am looking for, and that may have resulted in a loss of appreciation for the depth and breadth of a subject.

In contrast, when I received my information in an analog form through the mail, I would physically handle the journal or magazine and thumb through it, glancing at things that might not be relevant (a study on a different crop or a product advertisement) but might spur an unexpected curiosity. Physically interacting with a journal or magazine seems a much more interactive learning experience for me than a computer screen.

Justifiably, I could be criticized for complaining, which I do, and proclaiming “bring back the old days,” especially in contrast to Millennials, to whom gathering digital information is second nature. However, I’m not quite convinced of that criticism.

Who is driving the resurgent vinyl record market? Millennials. Why? I can’t believe it’s nostalgia when Millennials were born after the demise of turntables.

A possible reason is that it’s more informative and thoughtful to interact with a product that you can touch physically.

This is posted in Columns

About the Author: Karl Danneberger, Ph.D.

Karl Danneberger, Ph.D., is a professor in the department of horticulture and crop science at The Ohio State University. He is author of the popular The Turf Doc column that appears monthly in Golfdom. Karl writes on topics ranging from Poa annua to pest control.

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