I came across this article on CNET discussing our transition from physical media to digital media. I've been thinking about this a lot lately too. What physical items have you stopped buying in favor of clutter-free digital files? How did it start for you?
Kirk and I gave up cable almost two years ago. We realized we never watched "live" television- we waited until our shows were available on the network's website, hulu.com, netflix.com, or if we couldn't find what we wanted when we wanted it, we used, um, "other" websites. You know what the best part of streaming something is? Fewer annoying commercials, and if you watch from those "other" websites, there are no commercials. Yes, I know that television relies on commercials to pay for the show I am enjoying, but part of me doesn't care if they are going to force me to watch annoying advertisements for prescription medications, obnoxious reality television shows that are a pathetic commentary on how stupid society has become, and greasy, fattening fast food at higher than a reasonable volume. For an explanation of how they get away with the high volume, read here. But what about sports, you ask? Well, I was able to watch most of the University of Utah games on espn3.com. If you have Comcast, lots of games are available live streaming. We treat movies the same way as television shows- we no longer buy the DVDs or Blu-Rays unless they are a real favorite. We check all the legal streaming websites, and if we can't find what we want, we turn to "other" means.
I bought a Barnes and Noble Nook last year. Initially, I found it hard to give up physical books, not because the eReader is difficult to read, but because I love buying and owning books. I have two huge bookshelves filled with books I have collected over the years. I realized, though, that I could live without buying cheap paperbacks. If there is a book I really love, or something like a cookbook that would be impractical to have in eBook form, I buy a nice hardcover copy of it. The coolest thing about the Nook is I can still have the wandering-the-bookstore experience because I can take it to B&N and read any eBook free for an hour.
And now the biggie. Music. I don't even remember the last time I bought a CD. In fact, after I spent an extensive amount of ripping every last CD I had to my computer, I donated all of my CDs to Big Brothers Big Sisters. I have an iTunes account, but I find myself obtaining music through "other" channels most of the time. If I stumble upon something I'm really into or a local artist I want to support, I have no problem forking over the money. Lately, Kirk and I have actually taken a step back in time when it comes to listening to music. We got a really nice turntable from Kirk's dad and have begun listening to LPs. This difference in sound quality is amazing! LPs sound so much richer- sometimes you can actually hear the fingers strumming the guitar strings. We raided our parents' record collections and we found an awesome local record shop that sells new and used vinyl. After our first visit to Randy's Records, we got in the car with a bunch of albums and I said, "Wait. We just *paid* for music. Weird." We've been back several times since. I would rather pay $15 for a great vinyl album than the same amount of money for the latest digital/digitized fodder by the Black Eyed Peas. My mom's condo burned on Thanksgiving and when we were let back in, after finding our kitties alive and well, one of the first things I rescued were the vinyl albums. No one took a second glance at the tower of CDs because they're all ripped onto a computer, but those vinyls all have memories associated with them for everyone in our family.
I guess what I've discovered is I'm still willing to spend money on physical items like vinyl records or books if they are special. If I just want to check out a new album by an artist or breeze through a trashy romance novel, I'm going to go digital. Piles of stuff just collect dust and have no value. I don't need the clutter; I only want my home to be filled with meaningful treasures with stories behind them.