A Digital Christmas


Monday, 27 December, 2010

Content Over the last couple of days, when I've actually torn myself away from the screen, I pondered the change of the celebration of Christmas for non-religious folk. Every year, Christmas has often become the time to catch up with family and friends. Yet also every year, I've watched the number of physical Christmas cards arriving on my doorstep dwindle down to a single figure this year.


I'm ready to accept that I'm just unpopular, but the switch of communications from analogue to digital in all forms of community celebrations has been pretty tangible over the years. Whilst I yearn for the personal touch the analogue approach allows, I'm also enthused about the freedom that digital communications allows.

Digital Freedom

For one thing, its quicker and easier to do. For another, more and more of the population are able to do it. But most importantly, it uses less of the environment to carry out. Let alone minimise all the unnecessary paper you're left with after an event like Christmas has happened.

For purists who demand that a handwritten card is the only way to go, well, in digital times, the thoughts behind such actions are only emphasised further and cherished more as a result.

Digital Season

As we send out e-cards and text messages that are both generic and personal, I find it more obvious how other digital channels have taken advantage of the festive season. We bought a gift voucher online for a relative and rather than expecting a paper note to be posted either to us or to the recipient, we later found it went straight to her digital junk folder.

Other digital routes are facilitated by etailers such as Amazon, who allow us to avoid a physical shop queue. However, it's painfully clear that the arrival of a physical gift can still be hampered by delays such as the snow the UK has faced so far this Winter.

Virtual Gifts

But will physical gifts actually go virtual? They already do in some areas. The delivery of gaming for instance, provides consumers with a choice of disc or download for Playstation and Xbox or via Steam on your Mac and PC.

Though opening a physical package can't be beaten, it may only be a matter of a generation before the action is passé and gamers wonder why people wait an excruciating age for a disc when the latest release is downloadable in a matter of seconds over a hi-speed connection. Running out of stock would be a phrase confined to the history books.

Other forms of entertainment are even more commonly delivered digitally, with Apple's iTunes championing an ecosystem that provides TV, film and music as well as gaming.

Though of course, not everything can be digital. Things the body needs such as food, clothes and cosmetics for one. But for other things in life, I recently wondered which of those will become digital through technologies we're not yet aware of.



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