My iTunes library, of about 12,000 songs consisting of 60GB of data, got corrupted today. The MP3 files themselves are okay, but all of the metadata is blown away -- playlists, play counts, ratings, and all my little tweaks to song and album titles.
I'm surprised by how much grief this causes me. As it turns out, my experience of these songs is determined by the record of how I've lived with them -- without the information about how I've listened to them, and how often, and what I thought of them, they're just not my songs. It makes sense, at some level; Art without curation or creation without witness leaves a work mute. But as geeks, a lot of us wouldn't even necessarily see this as data loss -- the original files, after all, is still there.
There's a lesson here for the prophets of abundance, and for all of us who see formerly valuable things becoming commodities. We might be able to replace the raw materials with their abundant, or even free, counterparts. But if our emotional experiences are lost along the way, the perfect digital copies are worthless, too.