The End of Net Neutrality: Could Slow Internet Save Hard Copy Technology?

netneutrality2 I feel I can say in all honesty that there is not a single one of us in this class who hasn’t had at least one encounter with Netflix, Hulu or the like. Streaming content online is becoming more and more prevalent by the day, and on-demand culture is quickly killing off hard copy DVDs, CDs and books, as well as magazines, newspapers and all other forms of printed, physical media. The digital age has been upon us for some time now, and in Wheeler Winston Dixon’s book, Streaming: Movies, Media, and Instant Access, there is a significant focus on the idea that digitization has and will continue to prevail in the media industry. On page 2, Dixon notes,

“It is an inescapable fact that we will soon experience a complete changeover to digital formatting, eschewing film entirely, and many audience members are deeply disturbed by the thought, as if, in losing the platform of film, we will be losing some essential essence of the medium.”

the death of the DVD

The Death of The DVD: Infographic

I personally don’t feel as strong a connection to the medium of film over digital, and am still as excited and intrigued by digital filmmaking as I am with traditional filmmaking practices. Dixon continues on this topic, adding, “film has vanished, but the image remains, albeit in a new, sleeker format. It isn’t a question of whether this is good or bad; it’s simply a fact.” (2) I would agree with Dixon here; sure, film may be gone. But movies, and all kinds of media for that matter, still remain, and with the advanced of digital technologies, there will undoubtedly be more of it to enjoy. Right?

The answer to that question may for some people be yes; however, while reading Dixon’s book, I couldn’t help but recall our conversation over our past few classes regarding the end of net neutrality and the growing frustration felt by consumers and companies alike towards internet providers and their dwindling efforts to provide fast, reliable internet to customers. I know I’ve spent more than a few nights shouting at my computer screen or television when Netflix continues to go back and forth between the content I’m watching and the damn loading screen, which makes watching any content on Netflix nearly impossible to follow, and frankly an absolute chore. It’s times like these that I want nothing more than a hard copy DVD of House of Cards or whatever else I’m attempting to watch, and the frustration generally ends in me shutting down Netflix rather than sticking with the program I’m streaming. I cringe just thinking about how annoyed I get at my poor Internet connectivity, and the more I thought about it, I wondered: if Internet connection continues to be a cause of frustration for users, what are the odds that a return to hard copy media will occur?

The infographic I’ve included in this post would seem to suggest that such a shift is not very likely to happen. However, this article and radio broadcast from NPR (which can be found here) puts forth an interesting argument, suggesting that there are people who wish to escape the ever-tightening hold digital technology has on us. What’s your stance on the issue? Is it feasible that people may want to distance themselves from digital technology in favor of hard copy media, or gasp interpersonal communication in a physical space? I can’t say I know the answer to this question, but I’m really looking forward to discussing it with everyone on Tuesday.

Featured Image found on Creative Commons, Infographic found here

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