Erica Freidman, of Yuri blog ‘Ozaku‘ (and, for those of us older folk: anime fanfiction in the 1990‘s) fame, posted an incredible article on the move from physical media to digital media. It is in the context of the currently floundering move from paper manga to digital manga, but she broadens the discussion to become universal. It’s absolutely worth a read, especially for people like me, who share her vision of the future of media consumption.
She presents her vision with an example that I have many, many times spoken of similarly, and is quoted below:
Here’s my futurist fairytale – I have a device that supports all standard formats. On that device I can access any of my digital content, regardless of where I am, or whether I am connected to the Internet. I can share that content with friends AND still have it for myself, as I cannot with a physical container, because the content is no longer bound (literally or figuratively) to the container. My content is available in translation and in the original, so I can read it in whichever language suits me. I can switch devices and still access my content.
I no longer need to buy the containers for content, when I can access that content anywhere, any time.
I don’t own the content, but then, I never did. I just owned the containers and my thoughts about the content…and the two things that the content conferred upon me – portability and ability to share – are replicated by this new system.
Because content containers are no longer de rigeur, they have become less typical. They will, like LPs now, be collector’s items and works of art, like the swords I collect. Books are not objects of every day use, but efforts of craftsmanship and beauty. I have space on my shelves for these, because I can access the content I want anytime, so I can surround myself with the most beautiful physical objects.
No one will ask you to destroy your comics or manga collection, but I bet in 40 years it will be mostly gone. It made sense to replace your LPs with CDs and your CDs with MP3s, each one of which made your music more portable and sharable. It made sense to replace movie reels with VHS, and then DVDs and now on-demand video. It will likewise one day be quite sensible to get rid of all those old manga volumes, because you’ll have different ways to access your content.
As a futurist I believe that, since change is inevitable, embracing change leads to fewer heartaches. And if this next format fails, it’s really no big deal because there will be a newer, more flexible, more universal format right after that.
Check out the whole article at Okazu!