The picture above shows a micro SD card on my fingertip. It is the size of the fingernail of my smallest finger.
It holds my entire digitized music library, classical and pop, with room to spare. This is a 128 gigabyte card, but these cards also come in the “supersized” 256 gigabyte variety (and higher), also the size of a fingernail.
You can install a card like this in a smartphone (except iPhones) or tablet. I was going to say “easily install” but they are tiny and easy to fumble, not to mention the fact that the slots into which they are installed are frequently spring-loaded. Which means, if you don’t click it in completely, your device may shoot the card across the room like a watermelon seed (about the same size and color). I strongly suggest installation in an obstacle-free environment, preferably with a light-colored floor. With an adapter, you can also plug it into the USB port of a computer, DVD player, or television.
I’m currently pairing this card with a FiiO X1 portable MP3 player, which is about the size of a deck of cards. I chose it because at the time it was one of the only players that handled the FLAC format (a lossless form of MP3—if this terminology is unfamiliar to you, you might want to take a look at my post on digital music formats). It also can transmit music wirelessly via Bluetooth or be plugged directly into a stereo receiver as an audio input. It can accommodate a micro SD card of up to 256 gigabytes.
This all means that I can walk around with a representative sample of 1000 years of music in my pocket and play it even when there is no internet connection or electricity (at least until the battery runs out; solar rechargers exist though).
I can’t help but find this amazing. My mother had a Steelman blonde-wood console stereo record player (to which you could also connect other devices—revolutionary!) that, with the speakers, was slightly smaller than a Fiat 500. It did make a mighty sound though–I’ve written about it before.
But to make music, you also needed vinyl records, which took up a sizeable amount of shelf space. My computer’s music library currently contains something like 1000 albums from physical CDs, LPs, or born digital files. This would, I estimate, require about 15 linear feet of shelving for vinyl. Oddly, the width of a standard CD case is equivalent to 2 LPs, so they would actually take up more linear feet; but due to their shorter height, they can be arranged more densely.
All of this now fits on a fingernail. This blows my mind.
I can’t conclude without some music for you. So, I think I’ll reach way back into the archives, and give you music that I carry around on my little card. Here is the Kyrie from Guillaume de Machaut’s Messe de Notre Dame, written before 1365.