Posted in General

Holding on to physical media in a cloudy age

Compared to how I lived even a decade ago, I rely far more on the cloud — and streaming — than I used to. I don’t get physical box copies of games any more, unless it’s a rare Switch title for the family. Most all of my games are on platforms like Epic or GOG, or else are MMOs downloaded from websites. I can’t remember the last time I bought a CD. The only physical books I buy these days are commentaries for work; everything else is on Kindle or Audible. And almost all of my movie and TV entertainment is streamed to me through Tubi or Amazon Video.

The cloud offers a great deal of advantages in regards to instant access, space saving, and organization. I like not having super-crowded bookshelves any more, and I wince when I think back to the days of juggling a music collection spread out over hundreds of CDs.

But I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling uneasy at how much I’ve grown dependent on internet connectivity for, well, everything entertainment-related. This is very noticeable when there’s a power or internet outage and then I’m left twiddling my thumbs or using cell data on my phone as a desperate lifeline.

I’ve started to come around to appreciating physical media more and more these days. Our family ditched Netflix (streaming) a while back and is using DVDs far more than we used to. It’s also a nice way to control what the kids are watching. I don’t store my music collection online, instead making several different backups every month and putting them in different locations to minimize risk of loss. And I now bring a physical book with me on a trip, you know, just in case.

One thing that I really don’t like about this move into a cloud-based age is that it transfers all of the power to the companies holding on to that stuff for you. They can take it away from you if they want, or modify it, or whatever. Games can go missing from portfolios. So having physical media — books, DVDs, games — is a way to retain some of that power and control and ownership. I can resell my game or book; I can’t do that with an audible title or something on Steam. The latter benefits game studios while putting the consumer at a disadvantage.

Still, I’ll be streaming and clouding and whatnot as I’ve been doing… just with more of an eye to preserve as much physical media as I can along the way.

3 thoughts on “Holding on to physical media in a cloudy age

  1. The ownership is the biggest issue for me, I’m fine with not having a physical media, but even the theoretical threat of a potential account ban by, say, Steam does pose some rather thorny problems with this.

    I still have shelves crowded with CDs and DVDs, but they just gather dust. I listen to random playlists on Youtube or Amazon for music, I watch almost all TV via streamed services. I’m very heavily into the streamed/downloaded content world at this point.

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