Why we need to go digital this holiday

santa-claus-fancy-dressWhat I’m about to say will anger a lot of CE manufacturers, but this has been the laziest year in consumer electronics to date and I’m recommending that rather than spending money on the boring stuff that has come out in 2008 we all spend our money on digital media – games, music, audiobooks, ebooks, and the like. And I don’t mean digital Blu-Ray and game disks, either. I mean all bits, all season.

Now, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get grandpa that dialysis machine if he really needs it and if you need to buy someone an MP3 player to fulfill this recommendation, get one that ranks high on the green scale. I don’t mean digital gift cards — we don’t need any more stuff. I’m saying we don’t need any more crap. We have too much, we bought too much on credit, and we’re destroying the environment and economy with our purchases. This year, vote with your wallet and say “We don’t need a digital disk standard. We don’t need DRM. We value your content and we will pay for it, but on our terms.”

As I see it, buying digital — ideally from non-DRM sources — fulfills the promise of the digital life cycle. Music companies, as rapacious as they are, deserve our support for supporting artists we love. Book companies, as bumbling as they are, need to be shown that they can make money on ebooks. Movie studios need to be willing to release hi-res versions of their best films to an eager and hungry public.

What does this give us? It encourages the growth of digital media, which is a plus. It proves we are not a generation of pirates and thieves. It proves that the digital business model is sound.

How should you give digitally? Head over to the Amazon MP3 store and gift an album. Buy someone with an XBox a 1-year 1 DVD/streaming only subscription to Netflix (I know it’s cheating, but tell them not to get the DVD). Buy someone some cool ebooks and some software to read it on their phone.

If we all vote with our wallets this season we’ll be putting money where it matters — into the creation of future digital content. We are a digital generation. We won’t need any more “things” in the basest sense as long as the media we consume is compatible with the things we have. By buying digital, we will point to what formats we want to use. We will not be coerced by CE manufacturers into buying the latest optical disk format or console. We’ll get what we want when we want it from the celestial jukebox and keep a few tons of cardboard and plastic packing material from hitting the landfills on December 26.