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Amazing Tool or Bane of Civilization?

The other day I was putting finishing touches on material for a new web site.  I wanted to link to a YouTube video of two distinguished musicians (a violinist and pianist) performing at the White House.  Unfortunately, the video, provided courtesy of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, did not identify the musical selections.  I thought it essential to include this information in my description but I was unable to for one of the pieces.

I called a violinist friend in the Boston Symphony, but got her voicemail.  I then called another friend, a violinist in the Muir String Quartet.  Again, voicemail.  When the first friend called back from her car, she told me to send the video link and when she got home she would work on the identification.  In the meanwhile, we had a substantive chat about some other matters that might lead to a joint public event. We agreed to have lunch.

While all this was going on, Dennie Wolf, overheard the conversation and said, “Why don’t you just use SoundHound, a mobile app that identifies musical selections?”  She brought over her phone, I played the piece on my computer, and within 30 seconds, I knew the composer, the specific selection, the opus number, the key, and the movement that was being played. Not more than a minute after that, my second friend called back.  Though I no longer needed his expertise, we too had a substantive conversation, agreed that we had not seen each another for awhile, and decided to have dinner.

In thinking about all this afterwards, I was of two minds.  I will never have to call a friend again to help me identify a piece of music.  I have access to a remarkable piece of technology that will facilitate the identification in seconds.  But how sad, that there is one less reason to call busy friends. Had I not made those calls, I would not have reconnected with two people who are very important in my life, I may not have gotten the idea for a joint public presentation, and my social life would have been the poorer.  Are amazing technological tools always in our best interest?

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