A reader objects to Rex Sorgatz’s argument that the Digital Age has made rarity obsolete:
I understand Sorgatz’s point that rarity can be defined as “scarcity,” and that with millions of people being able to experience something that is described as rare, that scarcity is eliminated. But this is a very narrow view of rarity. “Rare” can also refer to something that is unique. Sure, the Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota (hat tip to Weird Al!) has had thousands upon thousands of visitors, which to Sorgatz would mean that it isn’t rare. But that’s one unique ball of twine!
It is an oversimplification to imply, as I think Sorgatz does, that digital content by its very nature cannot be scarce. Nothing on YouTube could be considered rare once it’s on YouTube by the very fact that it is now something that is widely accessible. A video that only a handful of people have on their local hard drive is still rare while being digital.
As a fan (and recovering completist) of alternate takes and unreleased songs and live performances, I wish it were the case that anything that’s been made digital is no longer rare.
It appears Sorgatz is conflating “rarity” with “popularity.” If there is only one video in existence of Slash playing “Sweet Child” acoustically, then it’s rare even if every person on the planet has seen it.
(Photo of the biggest ball of twine in Minnesota by Mykl Roventine)