Because I am old, sometimes instead of watching new original content, I want to watch old preexisting content which is not available on Netflix or any other streaming service. Fortunately, there is a solution. Netflix also has a service which will mail me plastic circles that I can watch by putting them in my plastic circle player. I can manage the queue of such circles by using my browser. Ah, the wonders of technology.
Also because I am old, sometimes I go talk with other old people, in person, at bars and such. Mostly we reminisce about the old days, when we had to seduce people with words instead of pictures of our junk. But sometimes the conversation turns to entertainment, such as movies. Somebody might claim that Jupiter Ascending by the Wachowskis is the spiritual successor to The Matrix. This is obviously a claim that needs to be seen to be believed. (Though I recommend neither seeing nor believing.)
The logical course of action for me is to take out my smartphone and add this movie to my queue. Or perhaps use the Netflix app to first try adding it to my pending streaming watch list. But JA is one of those plastic only movies. The Netflix app has no provision for management of plastic, so it’s back to the website. This shouldn’t be much trouble. Ten years ago I was managing my queue with a device that didn’t have half the computing power of my phone.
But there’s a roadblock. The mobile version of Netflix’s site also has no provision for managing plastic. I can burn valuable data by streaming (right now!) any number of movies I’m not interested in, but I can’t use 100 bytes to request a plastic circle be mailed to me for viewing at my convenience.
The future is here and in the future there are no plastic circles. Everything is streamed. Which is to say, things that aren’t streamed cease to exist. Unfortunately, the arrival of the future is unevenly distributed. I’m getting more than my fair share and it’s pushing out the present which I wasn’t done enjoying. It may be convenient for Netflix to imagine a world where everything is streamed, but it’s still pretend. I still live in a world where the reality is that some things aren’t streamed.
Is this what it was like when Apple killed the floppy? Not exactly, I think. Floppies were already inadequately sized to transfer many files of the time. Plastic circles were not just the preferable but practically only means of distributing data. Streaming may be preferable in some cases, but it’s clearly not the only means of distributing some movies. That remains the plastic circle.