Every week Stephen Speicher contributes The Clicker, an opinion column
on entertainment and technology:
99% of the time I'm just your average mild-mannered tech-writer. However, every now and again, when the conditions are just right, I stroll over to my bookcase, reach to the top shelf and gently pull the third book from the left, "Celine Dion: The Magic Behind the Singing Horse." This simple action puts into motion a Rube-Goldbergian series of events which eventually reveals the secret passageway to my lead-lined den. It is there where I don my tinfoil hat and assume the role of my alter-ego, Dr. Conspiracy Theorist.
Oh sure, the realist in me understands that the motivations of large entities are, in truth, driven by the confluence of inertia and ignorance, and not instead by some deep-seated hatred of my hopes and wishes. However, it's an empowering (and self-aggrandizing) exercise to assume that large corporations, governments, and even dictators are all out to screw me, the little guy.
Today, I contemplate the ongoing Blu-ray / HD DVD war, and as I sit in this windowless bunker with only the sound of my Remington striking the ink onto the page to keep me company, I ask the question that seems to be so often overlooked: "Why isn't there consensus on the red portion of the specs?"
It's clear why neither the BDA (Blu-ray Disc Association) nor the DVD Forum (HD DVD) will raise the white flag, capitulate, and end the blue-laser war. In addition to having already invested years of research and development which they hope will lead to lucrative licensing fees, there are also the intangibles that come from working with the beast you know. Dumping your format and adopting that of your competitor is no small chore and despite the fact that we, the media and the consumers, like to pretend that a blue laser is a blue laser – the two formats are quite different.
Having said that, without the extra "Conspiracy Power" of the tinfoil hat, I found little reason why the two governing bodies couldn't come together and peacefully co-exist on something as well-understood as the red laser. With the hat, on the other hand, it came to me – they're trying to kill independent content.
But let's back up for a second.