Friday 11 May 2012

Musings on How Tech is Changing Our Stuff and Society

This sounds like a topic more appropriate for my husband's blog Faceborg. He's the tech genius but I'm a geek, too. :)

We've all read about how the Internet is changing society and that seems to be the base of much of our innovative technology these days. It's all about the latest social media craze or app for your mobile device, right? But there are other changes happening that we are seeing but maybe not looking at where they might lead.
Reading on a train while moving very fast. ~ Photo by Bonnie Falk
The e-book. This is where my inspiration came form for this post. I was reading StrangePegs' post on "The A to Z of Fiction to Reality: The Opton" where he writes about the sale of physical paper books declining and digital versions increasing. Like he mentions, there are many reasons why e-books are better than paper books. Yes, one can argue (as I did a few years ago) that there is still something special about paper books and they do have their superior traits, but looking at the stats, they are on the way out.

Digital music. We keep hearing the big labels complaining about how pirating is killing the music industry. It is this industry that gave us "musicians" like Brittany Spears, New Kids on the Block and The Spice Girls. Regardless of genre (ok, so I'm not into Top 40 pop...) I have much greater respect for artists who have a passion for their art, talent and have worked hard to become successful. Labels were created for a reason, but things have changed and they need to change with it. Today, you don't need a corporation to distribute your creative content. You can reach the globe in an instant if you have access to the web. It is my opinion that you can become famous on your own much easier than you could have 20 or even 10 years ago. (Similar concept here applies to publishing houses in regards to e-books.)

So, here's the thing... If authors and musicians can self-publish and distribute their work digitally, then we can cut out two of the previously biggest costs: raw materials and corporations. That means the profit margin for the artist can greatly increase. Think about that. As a consumer, we would have greater control over whom we choose to make successful and they in turn have greater control over their art. How cool is that?!? We could be on the verge of a renaissance!

Of course, the big industries don't want us to think that way. They want the control. If you were making a big pay cheque, you would, too. I can't blame them individually but as a whole, they need to let go.

Also, reducing our need for raw materials would have a huge impact on the environment. Less deforestation and less need for oil to make the plastic discs and fuel for transporting all the physical items. Isn't this a win-win? Better for the environment, cheaper media and more original content.

I'm not sure how this will affect the movie industry, though. I have to admit I do still love the big-budget sci-fi action flicks. They don't come cheap. Some of the actor's salaries still seem a bit ridiculous but I doubt that will change. Until we all have virtual reality goggles at home, we will still show up at the cinema and pay at the box office to fund our addiction.

While I had trouble lifting it above my head, that MEC backpack carried everything I needed to live for 3 months travelling around Europe. Including scores of musical albums, hundreds of books and eventually thousands of photos. Plus toiletries and clothing. Obviously. ~ Photo by Evan Falk
Stuff. I really like the idea of having less stuff. I adore books and music and movies, but they take up space. I'd rather they take up bits on my hard drive than boxes in my storage room. It just makes everything easier. Again, better for the environment, faster to find stuff, possibility to acquire a lot more content without physical space constraints and usually less costly, a lot easier to move, more options to bring media when travelling...

Digital Photography. I LOVE that I can have thousands of photos on my computer! I've always been a shutter bug and would go through rolls of film frequently. In addition to a few photo albums, I have a shoebox full of photos from my youth. I'm not opposed to making up photo albums for sharing special events, but I love that I can take a dozen photos of one 'shot' to get the prefect image with out needing to print them all out to see what I've done.

There are some things we will always need in the physical world: clothing, food, shelter, relationships... (Yes, all you basement gamers and faceborgs, you need REAL PEOPLE in your life!) I wonder what else we can get rid of from our physical life. We still need art and beauty. Seeing a Rodin sculpture in real life is nothing like seeing a photo of it.

Ultimately, it's the greater control and less physical waste that I see as a positive change in this digital revolution.


  1. Thanks for the shout out!
    Needless to say, I agree with you. And, you know, I'd much rather support the creator than a bunch of people feeding off of him/her.

    1. Exactly!

      And thanks for writing your blog. I'm really enjoying it!

  2. Well, I'm glad you are! That's always great to hear :)

  3. Found you through the A to Z Challenge.

    Got to agree about supporting the artist rather than the corporation and your bit about digital photography. I reckon this alone has to be one of the greatest steps forward in technology terms.

    I keep toying with the idea of a Kindle or similar, I love the idea that all out of copyright books can be downloaded for free, who wouldn't love a tone of classics? Sadly I'm just a bit too old fashioned and still love the smell and feel of a new book.

    Definitely following your blog now.

    1. So glad you like my blog! :)

      I do still like paper books in a romantic way and I almost feel like that makes them more precious. Practically speaking, though, the ebook is better. Books are an art. But for the sake of feeding your brain, digital is just as good!