I detest removable media. “Detest” may not be the right word; “abhor” is perhaps more fitting. Regardless, I have my reasons for not wanting to have to insert or remove a disc, cartridge, card, tape, etc.
Digital files are far more versatile than their physical counterparts. They’re essentially eternal, if properly moved between storage media and, when necessary, converted between formats. Since the items exist virtually, one can possess hundreds or thousands of items and readily switch between them all conveniently and quickly. This may seem obvious, but it’s a feature of modern technology that is not being embraced by some key industries.
First, the music industry. They’re catching up to the digital era and realizing that many people do not want to have to lug around a case full of CDs. Still, the digital rights management (DRM) imposed on files purchased from various online sources results in a painful user experience. This doesn’t really effect me though, as there are plenty of ways around this. Also, it’s possible that DRM (at least on music) will die soon, thanks to companies like EMI leading the way.
Next, the film industry. They seem to to abhor digital files nearly as much as I abhor removable media. Movies are slowly becoming available online and through various (legal) download channels, such as the Xbox Live video marketplace. But even these files are frustratingly devoid of usability and are limited in scope with regards to their transferability and playback. Again, there are ways around this.
While addressing the film industry, it seems proper to mention Blu-Ray and HD-DVD. Some have heralded these competing formats as the last of the removable media, and while I’d love to agree, I have my doubts. Neither format would be necessary given today’s massive hard drive sizes and plethora of streaming options, yet the average consumer loves paying money for a physical item. It’s also nice to know that if a hard drive fails, all of your money wasn’t wasted. Still, the whole discussion is moot – the future of media distribution should lie in the digital realm.
Finally, the game industry. Most computer games require the disc to be in the drive in order to launch, but, again, there are ways around this. Consoles, however, are trickier. Usually, a modified (“modded”) console is required to be able to play games without having to insert a disc every time. I don’t know how many times I’ve lost interest in a game because it wasn’t currently in my system, and this is no exaggeration. It’s not (only) laziness on my part, but a sheer lack of convenience. More often than not, I’m just going to play the game that’s already in there. This would be alleviated if I could access all of my games without needing the physical media.
The prevailing theme is that if someone owns a song, movie, or game, and wants to be able to maintain a strictly digital library, he has to at least bend the law, if not break it outright. I find this ludicrous. Those items for which we paid, we own, and we should not be limited in how we choose to play back those items.