Challenging Traditional Media

For the last few weeks I’ve been investigating and experimenting with storing my DVD’s in digital format on a network drive for playback throughout the house. Even after finding a DVD decrypter program I still have to say conventional media and distribution companies really have gone to a lot of trouble to make the whole thing more difficult than it has be.

When I rip DVD’s to MP3’s or whatever format IPOD’s like, the folder and filenames are intuitive (somewhat anyway), however DVD files get goofy files names that only a Unix numerologist would find attractive. Even if I go through the folders and rename them, there’s just no interface that lists all of the information in a consumer-centric or friendly way, making it practically useless for my household. This is no accident, bad UI, or lack of standards at work, this is an intentional butcher job. Old time media is scared to relinquish the power, and financial treasure chest they are sitting on, profits are just too fat. In fact I recently came across an
interview where Esther Dyson mentioned how music and book publishing business models are going to have to change:

The value chain in the traditional sense consists of content producer – author, filmmaker or musician – and then a huge intermediary who manages everything from finance, to recording, or editing to marketing, distribution and sales. In this world copyright is essential, or so it’s claimed, to manage revenue streams through controlling access to content. But we are finding quite a number of businesses who are challenging this orthodoxy successfully. Do you have an idea where this will leave the established creative industries?

Esther: This is an excellent question and nobody has found the perfect answer yet. But I expect that business models will change further and it seems likely that the traditional music and book publishing industry, for example, will have to change radically, or die. They have huge investments in marketing and distribution, but that value is eroding rapidly, leaving them with costs that are increasingly hard to cover. The new digital and networked online environment simply does not support big intermediaries; the revenues, moreover, can flow more directly to the artists rather than to the intermediaries. That’s not to say that they can’t perform useful functions in career management, production, editing, marketing and the like – but they can no longer get much of a return on the distribution function that was their mainstay.

I’m of the opinion that by making it easier for me to copy, and view movies how, when, and where I want, will make me buy and consume more. I’d buy digital music if there weren’t so many restrictions on it, and distributing music in a digital format is more cost effective than producing a CD.

So have you found any ways to distribute digital video in your house, if so drop something in the comments, or in an email if you want to remain anonymous. I’d also really like to hear from some people who use Microsoft Media Center, the good, the bad, and the ugly. I’m considering an upgrade to Vista to get the functionality.

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