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Jon Seff · The Magazine ·

The Internet has changed the way we interact. It’s incredible really. Would you believe it’s true for tape collectors as well?

Jon Seff stumbled into the world of live music trading in the 1990’s when fans of live music would send tapes to each other; cassettes. And he writes about the experience in The Magazine. It’s fascinating to glimpse into the “old world”, where data - high fidelity recordings in this case - was traded and acquired via the mail.

“The transition from snail-mailed cassettes to high-speed BitTorrent downloads has changed the nature of trades. For one, it’s made it much easier for anyone with a decent Internet connection and basic understanding of P2P file sharing to access a treasure trove of live music…

“At the same time, it’s made the whole process much less personal. As with ATMs replacing bank tellers, there’s less human interaction. I built up friendships with several tapers and traders over the years as a direct result of our one-to-one dealings. Now the level of dialogue rarely goes beyond posting comments on download pages (mostly thank yous, with the odd bit of snark).

“And with official downloads, the relationship has changed from being between fans and tapers to being between fans and bands. Which, in many ways, makes a lot of sense since it’s their music in the first place.”

Seff writes a terrific story in which can be found many different narratives about culture and technology. If you’re a subscriber to The Magazine (it’s an iOS only Newstand app that requires a subscription), you can read the full article in the latest issue.