Is Physical Media Obsolete?

Well, is it?  What do you all think, my readers?

My humble opinion (for what it’s worth) is that it is NOT dead/obsolete.  I like to hold something in my hands… it’s hard to do that with digital copies of books, movies, and songs.

An old Gizmodo post claims that physical media will be dead by 2010.  Since it’s now 2009 and CDs, DVDs and books (among other things) are being produced and bought at decent numbers, then I would say that they are wrong.

Jeremiah Owyang claims that physical media is archaic in his May 10th 2009 blog post.  I see his point, but what happens when your hard drive takes a crap?  (Let’s assume he’s a normal user and doesn’t back anything up.)  What if your external hard drive you keep all your songs on gets stolen?  What about fire?  What if you accidently reformat your hard drive and lose all of your songs/movies/etc?

Also, this doesn’t even account for vendor lock-in via DRM.  If all physical media were eliminated, then various companies may re-introduce DRM to their products and make it more stringent.  As it stands now, if you buy a CD, you can rip it to any media format you like, whether that is .ogg, .mp3, .aac, or even the proprietary Microsoft format.

This also doesn’t account for your internet going down.  Or your provider charging per gigabyte.  Both of these scenarios show that you might want to have a physical copy of the program/movie/music.

I will keep buying music I find to be worth my dollar and download music I find on Jamendo.

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6 thoughts on “Is Physical Media Obsolete?”

  1. I still don’t buy much music online, preferring to still buy CDs. A CD typically gets ripped, possibly copied to use in my car (originals in car is baaad!), and then filed in a CD binder.

    (Let’s assume he’s a normal user and doesn’t back anything up.)

    *sheepish grin* I have about 1T of music and other media. Do I back it all up? No. I really should invest in a couple more harddrives so that I can, but right now it’s physically impossible.

    And as much time as I spend reading zillions of articles online, I quite like to curl up with a magazine away from the keyboard.

  2. Yay, another person that shares my thoughts.

    I do love to curl up with a magazine or newspaper. No instant feedback, but the idea of no instant feedback can be appealing to me. This is the same reason why I like books.

    People don’t back up all the time; I don’t. I really only back up regularly when I *have* to… ie, when I update Ubuntu (in case something goes horribly, horribly wrong… nothing has… yet…).


  3. No, physical media isn’t dead. I remember the buzz in the 70s-80s about how we’d have a “paperless office”. Thirty years later, and I’ve still got tons of paper in my office.

    New media are just that: new. They don’t need to replace old media; they supplement it.

    1. Paperless office? I say “Hah”. There is no such thing as a paperless office, although I’m trying to move toward that by storing all my todo lists on the cloud in remember the milk.

      The hard part is going to a complete ban on paper. So many good things are paper (books and magazines are two).

      I do recommend scanning and storing documents though. I did that at my last job, and it helped a great deal in bringing up pages I had stored. Sometimes, I needed to have the dead-tree copy of something.


  4. The only physical music I buy anymore are vinyl records, or CDs from local artists at their shows. However, I wouldn’t give those up for anything. I love my NIN vinyl, my Mars Volta vinyl and my old school George Carlin vinyl more than anything I own.

    1. Somehow I missed your reply to my post, and for that I’m sorry.

      I do like the sound of vinyl. The only issue I have with it is that it’s not very portable (although, I guess you could rip it with a converter to listen to on a portable player…) and vinyl does degrade over tine.

      I second the local artists. I prefer to buy my CDs that way because artists make more money that way than from store sales.

      I also really like the music I’ve found through jamendo… Creative Commons music is almost the only way to go for me right now. :)


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