I wanted to watch Zero Dark Thirty last week. It was only available on DVD through Netflix, so I put it in my Queue and 2 days later I was watching it. Then I thought about what I had done.

  • I went to Netflix and selected the title
  • A person in a faraway warehouse pulled a disc with mpeg-encoded video from a shelf and put it on a conveyor belt
  • The disc went in a truck and was driven to a mail sorting hub
  • The disc was through more conveyor belts and was placed on another, larger truck
  • The disc was driven some much longer distance to my city’s mail hub
  • The disc went through more conveyor belts and sorting to be placed on another smaller truck
  • The disc was taken on a ride through the streets of my city and dropped at my door
  • I tore open the packaging and placed the DVD in a device that then read some mpeg-encoded video off of it

I had ~4gb of mpeg content delivered with insane inefficiency (and cost, and impracticality, and environmental impact) because the copyright holders were not willing to get on board with an empirically more efficient and pleansant solution that leverages contemporary infrastructure.