One consequence of the relentless march of technology is obsolescence.
Whilst some old technologies, like 35mm film and vinyl, weather the storm of obsolescence, at least among afficionados; most, like VHS, will wither and die.
There is no market for VHS. All the analogue camcorder video formats, Hi-8, VHS-C, S-VHS etc are dead. DVD movie sales are in steep decline. And even the markets for so-called current technologies like Blu-ray, are looking distinctly iffy… not least because of the decline in retail outlets and the generational shift away from the notion of buying or owning physical media.
And there’s no point in complaining about this technology what you purchased not 'alf a decade ago from this very boutique. It’s not resting. It is deceased. It has expired. It has shuffled off this mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisible! It is an ex-technology.
And it gets worse. With every passing day, it becomes harder and harder to ensure the safety and longevity of the memories committed to these tapes… because even if you want to digitise them, have the time and skill to do so, you still have to find a machine to play them on… and these machines were mostly built in the late 80s with an expected lifespan of 7-10 years. The machines themselves, the VHS players and camcorders, are dying…
And it gets worse, still. Because these machines are dying out, the market for the conversion devices, i.e. the av-capture cards, needed to digitise the media is dying too… or is becoming obselete.
This is a BIG problem for anyone who, or anyone whose parents, committed their family movies to analogue tape… and this is a lot of people.
So, the following is not (just) a thinly disguised attempt to drum up business. It is a call to arms.
Seriously. They’ll be gone. Forever.
Not degraded. Not partially lost. Not difficult to recover.
But gone. Forever.
You’ll have Great-Granny’s photo album, if your lucky you’ll have Grandad’s cine films and the kids of the YouTube generation with have their whole lives documented in various parts of the net… but Mums and Dads, Uncles and Aunties, Brothers and Sisters, they’ll all be strangely absent from history.
There’s another other issue worth considering, scarcity.
The notion of scarcity often determines, the price of, or the value we attach, to something.
Economists talk about supply and demand curves and people think in terms of sacrifice and desire. Therefore, typically, cars are more expensive than bicycles, because they cannot be produced as quickly or as easily and because each additional car uses more scarce resources, than each additional bicycle.
However, in a digital world, this notion of resource scarcity is mostly irrelevant. The net marginal cost of a digital copy is, essentially, nothing and the capacity to create additional useful copies is essentially limitless. Once an artefact, like a song or a movie, exists in digital form, it doesn’t matter whether you copy it 100 times or 1,000,000,000 times. Each additional copy, costs the same (essentially nothing) and the capacity to make additional copies does not diminish (it is still limitless).
Therefore, in the digital world, popular things, like songs by world famous musicians or blockbuster movies, that are desired by many people, actually become progressively less “valuable”, the more popular they become. Their popularity merely serves to increase the pool of copies from which a further copy can be obtained… and thus the scarcity (of opportunity to create more copies) actually decreases.
This is not an easy concept to grasp (just ask the Record Industry…) because it flies in the face of what happens in the real world with physical goods. In the real world, the reason we don’t all own islands, live in castles and own Picasso’s, is not because we don’t want to… but because we can’t.
In the digital world there is, no can’t.
In the digital world, scarcity (and thus value) is much more akin to the availability of opportunity to create copies. However, as the digital world has become more ubiquitous, this “availability of opportunity” has increased to the point where (at least in the first world economies) it is now, essentially, absolute.
OK, enough with the GSCE economics. Why does this matter?
Well, what if I said to you, that I could legally supply you with a digital copy of your favourite Hollywood Blockbuster movie; but you knew that you could legally download it and watch it via your existing TV subscription any time you wanted. The chances are that the amount you would be willing to pay me to own it would be £0.00 (inc. VAT). Zero. Nada. Nothing. What I’m offering has no value… because, essentially, you already have it.
Now, what if I said to you, that I could legally supply you with a digital copy of your own families’ home movies; and that these files weren’t available to anyone else or anywhere else and that these copies were the only way your great-great-grandchildren might ever get to see them. How much would that be worth?
If you follow the logic through, by now you’ll have realised that your families’ home movies are irreplacable; and even in a digital world, this makes them valuable.
We know getting this done isn’t top of your to do list; if you're anything like us, it probably doesn't even feature in the top 17. However, if you ever want to get this done, the sooner you do it, the better off you will be because even though it's time consuming, it's still not outrageously expensive (yet).
If you have any questions, call the shop on (01442) 873069 and speak to Andy. He'll talk you through the options and the process.
If you could ask your future great-great-grandchildren, if they wanted you to do it… what do you think they would say?