I am a simple man, really; I like my coffee sans sugar and my whiskey straight up. As a general rule I avoid writing on -very- recent current events or product reviews simply because this is generally well covered by the real journos who get paid to perform autopsies. I also get my opportunity to comment on this sort of thing often enough on the AV Week Podcasts.
Even so there are a few subjects for which I am passionate enough about to come out of my shell and shout out about from the rooftops. One of these subjects is the litigious enforcement of an outdated business model or technology. From integrators who still decry the the loss of a single profit source model (flat panel installations anyone? Really?) to box electronics stores and the deplorable act of physical media companies desperately forcing the use of outdated and unwanted formats.
Let us face the facts folks, the days of physical media are over - and unlike the Mark Twain remark - the rumors of its death are not exaggerated, not even slightly. I am of the age demographic that is, according to the research organizations, supposed to be vehemently resistant to digital music formats. While I do still have a rather large collection of vinyl and CDs, (over 1,800 according to my spreadsheet log), I cannot honestly say I have played any in over five years, let alone purchased one. Have you?
I began to think about this around ‘National Record Store Day’ in April. I must admit that I do have a soft spot in my heart for the feel of a record in my hands and the warm hiss of needle in groove. The coverage of the day in magazines like the Big TakeOver, Pitchfork and Alternative Press did indeed make me wistful for the days when I had the time to spend several hours a week in a such stores. The experience, of being on the floor of a record shop with the smell of unfinished wood bins and slightly musty cardboard while enveloped in the sound of the store clerk’s selection, is akin to the romance of used book stores or the stacks at New York Library. - it is impossible to replicate in the digital music arena (not even in Second Life). Despite the many attempts to socialize the process online, the physical act of purchasing music in a communal space and the emotional attachment it conveys cannot be matched.
I see the validity of the argument, but even more clearly see that at this point, the fight is merely a philosophical one where windmills are fought and honor is established. Victory will not come for those who would decry or disavow the on demand revolution - but acceptance will not come easy.
It is the John Frum Syndrome which is, as I define it, a near ritualistic desire to bring back the near effortless rolls of profit by simply willing it.
The religion of John Frum is defined as a ‘Cargo Cult’ in anthropological circles - it has many similarities to the modern mystic making of the Rastafarians (who believe that the late Haile Selassie I, Emperor of Ethiopia was God incarnate). The main preoccupation of the cargo cult devotees is in preparing for the arrival of material goods as gifts from the gods via cargo planes. The religious sect builds elaborate mock airports by clearing swaths of jungle for runways complete with mock air traffic towers and deplaning terminals out of wood and thatch. It is thought that the cult originated late in World War II when Allied forces, specifically American, swarmed into pacific island chains while pushing toward Japan. These forces stepped onto islands where the native inhabitants had never seen another type of person let alone the great cornucopia of material goods the Cargo planes brought in. To these isolated folks the goods appeared to just come out of the aether. John Frum is thought to be a derivation of ‘John From America...’ such as a pilot introducing himself to a local chieftain while his plane is unloaded.
The religion still exists with the congregations acting out ritualistic military parades and maintaining the landing sites in hopes of having the gods grace upon them the riches their devotion and keeping of the tenets has earned.
In both cases, the cults of John Frum and the physical medium could have been excused in the past when the ability to know better was more difficult. This cannot be said today.