The video was so amazing
that when someone asked me if I was going to write a piece about the MiniDisc, I pointed them to Colin’s video. He covered it from so many angles and with so much thoughtfulness that I felt that I had nothing to add.
Why is this video, one of the most popular clips on his channel, so effective? I think the real secret is the way that Wirth framed the format. Rather than taking the position that MiniDisc was a failure, he gave his documentary the title “Sony MiniDisc: The (Not) Forgotten Audio Format That (Never) Failed.”
That little bit of framing makes you think differently about a device better known for failing to live up to the high standards of what came before it, rather than a format with a still-thriving niche that had a number of technical advantages compared to the formats that preceded it (in many ways, it merged the best features of the CD and compact cassette tape) and followed it (the iPod borrowed more than a few cues from the MiniDisc, but the MiniDisc worked without a computer and could record from the radio).
In many ways, as a research-focused writer, I look for opportunities to take things that everyone knows about and force people to think about them differently. And I have to imagine that Colin’s video perhaps did more to make people rethink an old piece of electronics than any other YouTube video this year.
For that reason, This Does Not Compute’s thoughtful analysis of the MiniDisc is MidRange’s YouTube Video of the Year. (Imagine me finishing this issue by speaking this line in a sing-songy voice: I should probably start designing trophies for this.)