Bitch 2.0

Tom Merritt from CNET writes about “My fight with Amazon Unbox” and his thoughts, along with many of those commenting on the article, are predictably negative. In the blogosphere the universe centers around the individual speaking and most individuals tend to fill their space with bitching. Call it Bitch 2.0.

Amazon Unbox is the best digital download service yet since Apple added television programming for purchase through their iTunes Music Store last October. From iPod quality to DVD-quality, from one download version to two (DVD-quality and portable media player versions), from a modest selection to 200 television series and 1000 movies, from one service to many, and all of this in less than a year. This is something to bitch about?

Merritt complains that the Unbox software is too invasive and requires too much effort to install and uninstall. He complains that he cannot burn his purchases for viewing on a DVD player, and he complains that the first file downloaded was corrupted.

Merritt, and his sympathetic readers, should remember that he is an early experimenter with a service early in the existence of this industry. He should remember that just a year ago, no such extensive video service or software existed. He should remember that content producers pay money to produce content and can be forgiven for being Draconian in their first fledging attempts in a new industry. He should remember that Draconian measures always diminish with competition. He should remember that he was not forced to download the Unbox software and that his first Unbox digital download was free. He should remember that new services and software are beta whether or not they have been labeled as such.

I, on the other hand, remember what it was like before most media became available online. I remember my clunky television and the physical storage space required for VHS tapes and DVDs. I remember not having ready access to my favorite television shows and movies. I remember driving to the store to purchase content or waiting for content to arrive via snail mail. I remember watching television at a network’s preset time. I also remember the sour reception of DVDs, iPod and the iTunes Music Store, and other so-called failures. I remember less than a year ago when there were no broadband video channels supported by advertising nor burn-to-DVD services.

In spite of the negative commentary, consumers are rapidly adopting digital downloads. Competition continues to sweeten the offerings. In a year, most of the issues with current services will have been resolved or replaced.

Bitch all you want, you Bitch 2.0’ers; all you are really doing is taking for granted just how rapidly our world is changing and how far we have come.

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Richard Leis

Richard Leis is a writer and poet. His first published poem, "Roadside Freak Show," arrives on August 21, 2017 in Impossible Archetype.  His essays about fairy tales and technology have been published on Tiny Donkey. Richard is also the Downlink Lead for the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) team at the University of Arizona. He monitors images of the Martian surface taken by the HiRISE camera located on board the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter in orbit around Mars and helps ensure they process successfully and are validated for quick release to the science community and public. Once upon a time, Richard wrote and edited the science and technology news and commentary website Frontier Channel, hosted the RADIO Frontier Channel podcast, and organized transhumanist clubs. Follow Richard on his website (, on Goodreads (richardleis), Twitter (@richardleisjr), and Facebook (richardleisjr).