On-demand culture

Others will write more eloquently elsewhere about Apple's announcement of the new iPod that plays video, so I'll leave the proclamations about its capabilities and such to them.

But the announcement is exciting on another, broader level: This furthers the onset of our on-demand culture. Sure, audio has been this way for years, and people have been able to illegally download and watch video for nearly as long. But with this new device, Apple makes portable video convenient and legal, and those are two important components of any mainstream movement.

Without placing too much importance on this announcement, I do think it's safe to cite previous posts about the Richard Florida-Thomas Friedman debate in noting that this is just another way for people to do what they want, when they want, where they want. As we move away from appointment-style entertainment toward a more on-demand model, our reliance on the old ways of doing things is fading. With TiVo, we could tape a show and watch it later, using its original broadcast time to do something else. Still, we had to watch it on the TV, which meant we still were shackled to a place. With this, we now can watch a TV show while riding the train to work the next morning.

Arguments about the picture size and quality aside -- or those about the fact that Apple's pact with ABC means there still are few if any shows most people would want to watch available for purchase -- this is a beginning. Wednesday's announcement doesn't mean that you can watch "Lost" on a 2-inch screen, it's that you soon will be able to legitimately watch anything, anytime, anywhere. The on-demand culture is here.


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