How Out of Touch Am I?

Today was one of those days, people. The computer refused to cooperate, the printer ignored my attempts to establish a dialogue with it, the IT guy got lost on the way to my office, I keep dropping things, getting confused, misplacing office keys, etc. I bought lunch and tried to take it to the office but it somehow got lost on the way to the office, which is quite a mystery in its own right. And to make things even more joyful, the movie DVD I brought to my Advanced Spanish course refused to work.

This is a completely new DVD that I bought specifically for this course. I played it twice at home and then did a trial run in the classroom where I was planning to show it. Everything worked great. Until today when I actually had to show it.

When I say I was going to play this movie for the students, it means that I’d prepared a huge number of activities on its basis. There are exercises to do before watching, during watching, after watching, the movie-based lab assignment, the movie-based set of homeworks, and a midterm that integrates the knowledge we will have gained from working with the movie. Creating and coordinating all of those activities is a lot of work. A crazy amount of work. So, obviously, I freaked out completely when the DVD refused to play.

A student saw me in the process of freaking out and took pity on me. “Professor, this movie is available on YouTube for free,” he said, looking at me with the kindness normally reserved for very old and frail people.

Now, the reason I have just bored you with this story is that I have a question. It never even occurs to me to see if a movie, a book or a song are available for free online. I always just buy them or order them at the library when I need them. It’s like the free online option is not even there for me. Does this mean I’m hopelessly old? Am I getting completely irrelevant to the new generation?

I’m completely exhausted, and that’s what causes these existential questions.

6 thoughts on “How Out of Touch Am I?”

  1. It’s not just YouTube, there are lots of places to look … and then there’s the torrent, for the brave.

    I always try to get it bought because of principles of all kinds. But yes, I get that look from students also.


  2. I think this is a fairly new thing, at least for the movies to be online and not a copyright violation. Also, you want to make good and sure the movie will be available when you need it. Sometimes they are only free online for a limited amount of time.


  3. I too am used to the concept of paying for intellectual labor. If I know that someone has “donated” their professional-quality documentary to the internet for free use, then getting the doc via youtube is no issue for me. If I am unsure, I might sample a minute or two on youtube and then buy it if I want the whole documentary.

    I use youtube mostly for technical instruction – how to build a home-made “x” (some kind of camera related equipment).


  4. I think there has to be another model for compensating artists coming up soon. With untold masses clamoring for attention, we should not try to limit access to the ones that manage to rise above the rest. Efforts have always been made to make music, art, literature available for free.. we’re simply switching from radio, TV and libraries, to the computer. We have to find other ways to support the artists; with corporate or government sponsorships, maybe inserting products in movies, or artists wearing Gap, or have the rich support artists like they’ve done in the past. 😉


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