Having worked in the digital media, online and content space for over 10 years and being a big fan of the latest and greatest technology, I like to think that this Noble household is pretty digital.
But how digital are we when it comes to consuming content – it’s very different depending on the type of content.
CDs? We don’t have many. The ones we do have, are for in the car and even those are getting used less and less, replaced by the iPhone and Bluetooth connectivity. The CDs we did have, have all been digitised into our iTunes library that neatly syncs with the other devices around the house.
VHS tapes? None. We got rid of those a few years back and moved to DVDs. I don’t think the little Nobles will even know what they are. For the home videos, we went through the painstaking process of hooking up a VCR to the pc and playing and recording digitally all the ones we wanted to keep. The quality isn’t brilliant but they’re more than watchable. DVDs? Not too many. We still have some of the classics in our library but every so often even they’re cleared out. The neat little AppleTV is the home video consumption hub for us – nice and easy to use, great selection of content and no more popping out to the local Blockbuster. Am I bothered about owning a collection of physical media? No.
HD-DVD? We tried it and yes I thought it would win the HD format war. But it’s no more. We didn’t have a big collection and we’ve sold them all now, including the player. Blu-Ray? We also tried it but found the PS3 user interface not too friendly, so gave up on that as well.
We still have some console games on physical media but even they’re getting fewer. You can now download games on most consoles and it’s often cheaper and there’s no difference in the experience. And coming up fast are games as apps on smartphones and tablets, for a fraction of the price and even streamed to the TV.
This is where it gets interesting. I love books and yes there is something about holding a physical book and turning the pages and reading it, and it’s not the same with digital. Sure I get how convenient digital is and in some cases cheaper (but in many cases not cheaper thanks to Amazon)and how it can be more interactive and provide a far more immersive experience. Apple’s iBooks is great, it works very well and has that usual awesome Apple experience to it. Amazon’s Kindle is also good but with no colour version in the UK still and missing apps, browsing and more, its not for me right now.
Having said that, I read something the other day about what the author of a book is trying to say – he or she is telling a story and it is all about the content. The physical book is not the content, that’s just the medium and it shouldn’t impact the experience or story that the author is trying to get across. An interesting way of thinking and it actually applies to all types of content – not just books. But digital books aren’t there yet for me, I don’t doubt it will come in time but now we have more physical books than digital ones. Maybe it’s the little Nobles who’ll help make this transition for us.
This is the one that made me think I’ll do a blog post about it. Up until the end of last year we had weekend newspapers and one weekday one delivered only. The rest of the week there was no time to read them, for me at least. Then through changes at work I was at home in the mornings more than normal so went for the full 7 days a week of papers. Great, with the extra time to read them in the morning and the newspapers 7 days a week then stuck. But now I’m trying an experiment and dropping back to just the weekend and one weekday physical newspapers and seeing what I can do with the iPad the other mornings and how the experiences compare. It’s only day 4 in and I’m missing the newspapers, how long can I last? Maybe it’s the Dilbert and Calvin & Hobbes cartoon strips – even though they’re still delivered to my inbox via an RSS feed.
There are apps on the iPad or in the Newsstand app for the papers we read and yes they do have the cartoons. It’s now time to test these as well as news aggregator apps that I’ve been using so far.
Why I’m missing them I’m not sure yet. Maybe it’s just part of the transition of moving to digital as with everything and it will eventually make sense. I’m not convinced about the Sunday papers though, having all those sections to read is part of a Sunday morning for me and always has been.
One thing to look at is the whole idea of “owning” content. Do we ever own it? Do we need to own it? Even on physical media – taking up shelf space – we’re simply licensed to view it and within certain guidelines (e.g. not running our own paid for home movie cinema for lots of people). Why not just pay for content as a utility when you use it? Or even – and this is a big one – content becomes part of our internet, phone etc (connectivity) bundle and is all inclusive, for you to use whenever and wherever you choose, subject of course to your particular (license) agreement.
This requires a huge shift in how we pay for content, how content creators are paid, how artists are paid and how royalties are paid, and business models around creation, distribution and storage and much more all need to change, but it’s a possible option for the future. We need to think more about new models and new ways of consuming content.