DVD choice

The idea of chronological generations may have to be set aside. The world we live in now is really measured in technological periods, which have no fixed length and overlap in wildly unpredictable ways. Each of our tools, each of our toys, seems to be rushing us into the future or holding us back. Consider the DVD.

The DVD is an object both feared and loved in Hollywood. DVD sales have changed the economics of moviemaking, and so has the illegal pirating of DVD’s.

Consumers have unequivocally embraced DVD’s, much as they have CD’s. And yet an enormous number of people find themselves in a curious state of transition. Some people can’t help thinking of DVD’s, which offer nonlinear access to their contents, in the linear terms of videotape. Some have fallen in love with the special features - outtakes, interviews, extra footage - jammed onto new DVD’s. The clutter bewilders others.

In a way, it’s surprising how happily we all wander through the forest of media formats. The reason isn’t that we love novelty. It’s that we love repetition. This becomes clearer if you think back to the days when movies could be seen only in actual theatres. They came and went, leaving only a memory behind. Now they appear and reappear, preserved in a format, the DVD, that resists even the gradual degradation of videotape. — The New York Times