My latest Flow column, “Watch Now: Netflix, Streaming Video, and Networked Film Publics,” is now available online. As usual, I tried to do much within the space of a single column, but I found myself torn between talking about the ways in which Netflix is trying to manufacture online film communities via Netflix friends and the immediate access to movies represented by new “Watch Now” player. Anyway, I’d appreciate comments either here or on the Flow website.
Update: In my article on the “Watch Now” player, one of my complaints was the issue of compatibility. The “Watch Now” player works only in Internet Explorer, which is a little annoying for those of us who prefer Firefox. The player is also not compatible with Macs, which I don’t believe I mentioned but is also relevant. According to Steve at the Netflix Community Blog, the player should be Firefox-ready by early 2008. I probably should have addressed those issues in slightly more detail, but I’m currently somewhat more interested in how the “Watch Now” player changes the temporality of viewing by providing “instant” access to a wide selection of movies.
Update 2: Here’s another read on the pros and cons on movie downloading from the Spout.com blog that focuses in part on the issue of selection. In general, the Netflix selection is relatively limited, but I was able to find a few things that I wanted to see, and I found that most of the films I teach are available, which would make it a viable option for my students who can’t watch the film in the library. But, like the Spout.com post, I think downloading could explode once it becomes more feasible to transfer movies to the TV screen, as Netflix’s rumored set-top box promises.