Monday, November 11, 2013

History is Not Kind, Doesn't Rewind: Blockbuster's Gone

Every major media outlet ran the headlines we all knew were inevitable:
Blockbuster stores are closing. All of them. Forever.
The New York Times might have had the best Pop Culture Headline about the story: "Internet Kills the Video Store." (Props to the Buggles.) and Quartz has an illustrated timeline of the video store's ;life and death. And, with its death I come to speak to you in this blog. I come not to praise video stores, but to bury them... OK, and maybe to reflect on what this change symbolizes for communicators and educators.

This video, by BuzzFeedYellow, takes older folks down memory lane - and uncovers hidden secrets of our video-screen past for younger viewers:

Goodbye, Blockbuster
Marshall McLuhan pointed out that each new medium contains the old medium as content. And I might add that the terms we use with old media (which we know) help us frame our interactions with new media (which we are learning.) For example, we still have skeuomorphic ideas, imagery and language associated with our "Blockbuster past."
  • When we return to a previous point in a YouTube video, or in a film we are viewing on Amazon or Netflix, we might still say we are "rewinding." But of course, there is never anything to "wind" to begin with. 
  • And when students shoot video , they may get extra "footage" - even though there is nothing to measure in linear dimensions.
  • We even call the "footage" (which is not footage at all) "B-roll," though there is nothing that we can roll up - or out.
I keep a collection of media devices from across the ages to show students what "footage" really is, what TV announcers meant by "don't touch that dial!" and how some songs became famous even though they were on "the flip/B side." But now - it is evident that the video cassette will become even more important in the Smartphone Museum exhibits.