I was minding my own business in my little edit room when a knock came on the door. People don't usually knock on the door of my little edit room, they usually bust through in a way that startles me as if I were doing something wrong in there. I need a little rearview mirror so I can see who's coming through the door right when it happens. Not that it'll keep me from being startled, but at least I'll immediately know who's busting through.
"Come in" I said while turning my chair toward the door. The door opened slowly, so I was pretty sure it wasn't anyone whose job it was to move the edit forward. It was a kid. Not a kid like a little kid, but a kid like somebody more than 10 years younger than me who dressed younger than me. And his hair was styled in a faux-hawky way that clued me in to the fact that he wasn't management.
I stood up and said "Hi", and he said "Are you Lee?", and I said "Yes" and he said "Lee with the 70 gigabyte shared iTunes music library Lee?"
I didn't really know off the top of my head how many gigabytes my iTunes library was at the moment, but seeing's how I don't ever see any other iTunes music libraries on the network called "Lee", I said "Yes, I'm that Lee." I don't know what I expected from his visit, maybe a congratulatory handshake, maybe some bowing down to the stunning number of Slayer albums that I have, or hell, I had really no idea. Until I noticed he was carrying a portable hard drive.
"Do you mind if I have some of your music?" he asked.
"Sure" I said, taking the drive. "What do you want?"
"All of it" he said, with a silly grin like that wasn't a silly answer.
"Sure" I said. I plugged the drive into my computer.
He seemed to realize that he was asking for something different than say, borrowing my bike or grabbing a couple of potato chips from my lunch plate. "You didn't buy all that music, did you?"
"No" I replied, and then I realized that probably 90% of the digital music files I have in my collection I didn't pay for.
I dragged my music folder over to his portable hard drive and told him to come back in an hour. "Thanks bro" he said, and he left and closed the door. While the media was copying, I felt like someone was stealing from me, which is ridiculous, because I simply gave him what he asked for. And then I thought about all the artists whose music I had in my possession who probably feel like people are stealing from them, which is true.
I quickly rationalized away about 40% of the music in my library, because some of it I did pay for in the form of vinyl, tape, or CD at some point in the past. And then I rationalized the rest away, coming up with the idea that he listens to my music for free on the network anyway, so what's the diff with giving it to him straight, so he can listen to it at work when my computer isn't on.
The files finished copying, and I decided to take a walk and find the kid and give him the drive. Later that afternoon I connected to his shared music library, and there I saw all of "my" music. And then I saw the light: I don't have to carry around my own portable drive anymore. I can just listen to that kid's. Sharing ain't so bad after all.