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IPTV and the Decline of Ritual and the Physical Format

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IPTV and the Decline of Ritual and the Physical Format

Internet Protocol Television. It sounds like something complicated but you probably use it all the time. There are three types: live broadcast, catchup and unscheduled recorded viewing. Iplayer is an example, and so is 4od. There are innumerate sites on the internet to watch television on and everyone wants it for free. It’s roughly the same thing that happened with mp3s, but that’s not to say it’s a bad thing. It’s easy to be nostalgic and to bemoan the death of vinyl for cd (although vinyl still has a few purists continuing to be interested in buying enough of it for manufacture to continue.) Vinyl was warm, and had large artwork, and was a nice ritual. Photography has happened similarly, there’s a pattern. A digital format came up that was more or less the same in quality and convenient enough to make the old formats more or less redundant. Purists still favour film for crisper blacks and the atmosphere of grain over pixel, but they are seen by many as dragging their heels, fuddy duddies who can’t accept the modern age. Ironically, popular iPhone apps such as Instagram and Hipstamatic emulate old film processes to produce reduced quality images that are but a facsimile of the originals, albeit a good one. Soon, perhaps, tv sets will be disappearing from our homes. At least they will change beyond recognition. Everything’s gone digital now, and the higher end of televisual technology is internet compatible and interactive.
Many of us simply watch telly on our laptops, suffering leg burn while getting a screen tan, as a result of our addiction to the new series of The Wire, or whatever tv series is taking over your life currently. What will happen to the radio times though? To sitting down at the same time to watch the simpsons after school or the news after dinner? We want what we want when we want it, and this desire to be able to access programming at whim may be the death of the ritual. VHS collections gave way to DVDs. All but a few odd characters have let VHS go without much complaint. And DVDs don’t have the same collectorish appeal of vinyl. There is no DVD collector magazine. But when the object goes there will just be information, abstract and nebulous. The film industry will probably survive, the record industry has largely, and there are plenty cinema lovers content to shell out for the full experience. Yet it’s somehow the end of an era.

Written by Omar, who works for Reflex.co.uk, specialists in audio visual systems. As well as being an analogue enthusiast, he also loves retro furniture and can often be found listening to music…on vinyl of course

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