106. Digital upkeep

Guitars need love and attention if they are to stay in peak condition. There’s the routine maintenance of changing strings and batteries for pickups, sometimes involving a good clean and polish along the way. Serious owners may be careful to store their  treasured instruments in their cases when not playing them, keeping them away from excessive heat, and even using humidifiers to try and avoid the kinds of drying and cracking problem we reported back in Post 93. Then there are more serious repairs that require the attention of a skilled luthier, from professional set-ups to major surgery such as Carolan’s neck reset and bridge replacement (Post 66). All considered, its a labour of love to own a guitar, especially a handmade one as these are notorious for being temperamental. And its expensive too. We’ve spend hundreds of pounds maintaining Carolan over the past eight years.

It turns out that Carolan’s digital identity also needs maintaining. We recently discovered that many of its videos were no longer publicly available on YouTube due to a change in permissions policy, which required considerable work to fix, going through every post and resetting permissions. While we were at it, we also updated our website categories, recategorising each post, and rewrote our ‘About’ page which was looking distinctly tired.

The Artcodes software that connects Carolan’s Celtic knot-work decoration to its digital presence also has to be routinely updated so that it works with new generations of phones and continues to be available on the Google and Apple stores. There is also regular financial outlay to cover domain name registration, web-hosting, and premium subscriptions to ensure ad-free replay of YouTube videos when used on stage. Again, we have spent hundreds of pounds on Carolan’s digital presence over the eight years of its life so far.

In case all of this sounds like a major whinge, it is not. Well not entirely anyway. Any object worth its salt warrants due love, care and attention. Indeed, that someone actively cares for a thing may be core to what makes it a meaningful thing at all. Without due care, things soon lapse into being ex-things, or at least different things. Relics of their former selves. Museum pieces if they are lucky.   Material for the attic, junk shop or skip if they are not. 

Notable here, is the extent to which Carolan requires digital as well as physical upkeep. This will be a trend for all things that become part of the Internet of Things.  Cars require their engine management navigation and entertainment systems updated  from time to time. In the musical world, many contemporary effects pedals and amplifiers can be regularly updated with new digital sounds. So of course will it be with guitars. And guitars that provide identity services like Carolan’s will require additional maintenance. But then again, perhaps that’s part of the duty, and maybe even the pleasure, of owning and caring for a meaningful thing in one’s life?

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