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Geek Proud, GeekOut.

Gifting in a Digital Age

At this time of gifting for a substantial proportion of the planet, we find ourselves in an increasingly odd situation. Common retail is dying, shops are closing, and town centres are lined with shutters that are slowly rusting in place. We order online more and more, and that shift is changing the nature of media too. As DVD surplanted VHS, we thought Bluray would do the same to DVD in turn, but it appears ever more evident that digital distribution will prove the dominant format. One cannot cover Netflix in colourful paper… one could, but there may be conflicts with Netflix employees.

Is it at all possible that the days of presents gathered at the foot of a fir tree (or plastic facsimile thereof) are slowly dying? Can we no longer open a card in hope of a voucher or cash, but instead watch our inboxes with baited breath? Will Santa one day arrive in a red jacket bearing the names of every delivery company, and if so can we expect a note down the chimney telling us Christmas can be collected from the depot?

The times, they are a-changing, and Christmas too must change, as it changes its name, and once again grows to swallow all other cultures, the holiday undying, as old as the changing of seasons and the rebirth of the sun.

But if you still yearn for the look on someone’s face as they pull your meticulously crafted wrapping aside (or haphazardly taped up bundle) to reveal the thoughtful tokens within, all may not be lost. Long term readers may recall that we proffered a few suggestions last year for things to obtain for your geekier loved ones, but there are other things you can make, do, and buy.

It has been remarked that we crave experiences more than physical items, so taking someone – for example – to see a live stage show, or to theme parks or other pay-to-enter attractions is a fantastic gift that lacks a physical component, all being managed via online booking and emails. However, there is no reason why a ticket cannot be printed and folded into a card, perhaps something hand-made or thematic.

For digital media, there are a few ways you can make a gift out of something ephemeral. The obvious solution is to load – say – a new film onto a datastick that can be wrapped as an individual item, or placed in a comically oversized box. Or perhaps you want to load a family member’s phone with new music? Consider demanding it from them at Nerfpoint, loading it with an album or two, wrapping it up and putting it back in their hands. How often do people despair that we spend too much time on our devices and not with our families? Could be a great way to make phones a part of the family.

And until the days when 3D printing allows us to send Pop Vinyls straight into the homes of friends so they can watch their presents revealed piece by piece before their eyes – next logical step, just saying – there’s still an abundance of geeky objects in this world to give as gifts, but as times are changing it may be worth considering shopping earlier and earlier to account for delivery times. And you too could become a warehouse of Christmas presents, holding onto lots of objects for months on end that you intend to give to someone else! Just like me.

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