First off, EVERYTHING is going to be available for us to download. This BBC article about spotify.com has convinced me that having access to everything and not needing to own it is the way forward.
I'm looking forward to owning less stuff. As I see it, there are three tiers of media: stuff I'll watch once, stuff I'll watch more than once, and stuff I develop an emotional attachment to. It's only stuff in that third category I really need to own. The other stuff I'm happy to download as bandwidth becomes cheaper. (In fact, I watched the first episode of The Cult on TVNZ on Demand and thought the experience was fine.)
But, obviously, this raise concerns about the companies providing these downloads censoring material or restricting access to them (through price, digital rights management [DRM], or whatever. But the counter to that is torrenting.
I also think that JP's concerns about not being able to own the physical artifact are going to be addressed through:
i) treating the physical items as rarities
ii) being able to manufacture any item you want in-store (burn a CD, if that's what you want, or print any book you have the files for).
I also recommend checking out Amanda Palmer's post, 'why i am not afraid to take your money':
artists will now be coming straight to you (yes YOU, you who want their music, their films, their books) for their paychecks.
please welcome them. please help them. please do not make them feel badly about asking you directly for money.
dead serious: this is the way shit is going to work from now on and it will work best if we all embrace it and don’t fight it.
And a bit of an RPG geek-out: The Future of Tabletop Gaming. If that post was too long, and you didn't read it, then here's the summary: Technology is going to change gaming. That's inevitable. So figure out what tech-assisted games are going to look like, and go out and make them.
(*) As you get older, it's tough to get people together for a game once you factor in family commitments, transport, and work.
Therefore, we'll move away from books, and into creating technology assisted imaginary spaces. And the business model will change:
I think I disagree with one minor thing in the article: I can see how tech like virtual tabletops and Skype can get older people together, while still balancing families and work. But the rest of the article seems pretty damn sound to me.
... [Do] whatever it takes to get people playing your game. The old model was Selling More Books = Making More Money. That’s gone. Already gone. The future is more people playing = making more money.
... Sell your content. No, I don’t mean your fifty pages of history for your setting. I mean new classes, new skills, powers, gear. Stuff your players can use. Stuff they can play with.
... The lesson here is not “Augmented Reality is going to change tabletop gaming.” AR is just one component of it. The fact that all the players in the target demo will live with and on their personal mobile web devices complete with cameras and social networking is the lesson. The fact that they’ll pay you $5 for a new class or race is the lesson.