Thursday, 26 November 2015

Gifting in the Digital Age


It is the time of the year of merrily throwing your money away at greedy merchants, but this time around I cannot avoid noting how hard buying a meaningful gift to your loved one has become. And it’s all the Internet’s fault!
Think about it. No one wants plastic discs anymore, so there goes the idea of buying music; there is no such thing as recorded music gifts in the age of Spotify & Co. Unless your loved one is really nuts about Adele or Taylor Swift (hint: I’m not).
The same goes for DVDs and Blu-rays, with the extra touch of DVDs being an obsolete format (low definition analog) and Blu-rays are soon to be replaced by the 4K Blu-ray format. That is, the format that will render your old Blu-rays obsolete while making you wonder why you ever bothered pouring your money on those coasters.
Even books suffer. Most people I know have long left the dead tree versions behind. So focusing on ebooks, there is the matter of which supplier one goes with so as to match the one(s) used by the receiver of the gift. The supplier question is not that trivial given they all come with their baggage. Said baggage includes all sorts of evil geo blocking (can be quite painful when the subject of your gift is not in your country), DRM and user tracking. Seriously, I don’t know if I want to receive the gift of a book that spies on me.
My point is simple. If your gifts tend to revolve around consumable media, then nowadays you are pretty much limited to speciality books. It’s a large category of all sorts of printable stuff, but it is still a niche category. It’s that and video games, pretty much. Step out of the consumable media world and you’re firmly back in the world of junk gifts that most people will either never use / throw away eventually / sell on eBay come Boxing Day.

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