What is lost or gained in my digital cupboard?

There is some sort of obsession in mainstream media for iPhone apps and that finger ache and eye strain inducing device the iPad. They have completely missed the point, people aren’t going to pay for content or consume it in the way they were. People are becoming more flippant. I predict mass understanding of the benefits in reducing space, a Japanese style obsession in the making.
Plastic Water Bottles Mountain Ice Hunger Takes Flight KFB May 20, 20107

from http://www.flickr.com/photos/stevendepolo/4626047848/

I can think of so many people who have:

  • bookshelves holding books solely for the purpose of dipping into for specific nuggets of information they no longer use
  • CD racks of CDs we can’t find any more or that they no longer even like
  • DVDs that they watch once and now have more value as a spine graphic to remind you of viewing patterns

So much space within the home used to house pieces of plastic and scraps of paper.

2010 saw me try out Spotify for music, Lovefilm for DVDs, Boxee for gathering YouTube or iplayer clips and a Humax digital set top box for mopping up what was decent on TV. What did I actually get from these experiences? For one I don’t miss things which are on the TV any more and don’t need to watch the bad TV in between. When I hear music or read about it in an newspaper article I can add that music to a list and can come back to it. This has really replaced what I used the local library for. By finding so many novel musical, filmic and documentary subjects I feel more enriched and aware of why I have the opinions I hold. It has become necessary to resign myself to the fact that I am going to change my tastes more rapidly, even if I do come back to the same old things.

The one thing digital consumption does however is it makes you go out less to get any “real” experience of culture and you are left unsatisfied with too much to consume in too sparse a time. The easier the access the more you can sift through, the end result however is less time to remember what you were doing. The knock-on effect of all this choice may have been a smaller distributors of films just aren’t there any more: Tartan Asian Extreme gone, the BFI go bust and smaller cinemas are left showing the same as multiplexes with token adverts for more challenging pieces. Where do I go to see my wierd Japanese horror films (no those American copies don’t cut it even if they are made by the original directors). I am being left presented with second-generation experiences of art works passed through YouTube compression, hardly the ideal situation.

However something does get thrown up when I watch this media online. It is being mediated by its inherent rehashing, an almost virtual version of cultural activity. One of the things I enjoy most about this online experience is that it is building up a history and profile of my viewing patterns and tendencies start to appear.

Something I wholeheartedly believe in is the interconnectedness of cultural events and experiences. By looking at one video and flippantly moving to the next I feel like my personal curating is taking shape and new meaning is being created, almost a montage like a DJ puts together musical beats experiences. The single kunstwerk isn’t seen in isolation in a digital world, it is part of a larger world which I can instantaneously access.


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