One of the most tangible examples of a qualitative change in the way we live brought about by the digital revolution has been the disappearance of physical media. Growing up, there were several exciting events that could punctuate a young adult's life: visiting the record store to buy some new music or visiting the video store to pick up a movie to watch on the VCR. Relatively recent changes occurred so quickly that some people reading this post may never have had these experiences.
In the case of the record store trip, part of the excitement (or disappointment) was seeing whether or not the store carried anything new that interested you or carried something specific that you were looking for. Release date for new records and CDs were mysterious; you couldn't know if a new album had been released or not without calling the store or walking and in and perusing the stacks. Sometimes you were thrilled with a surprise, and sometimes you were disappointed that the store didn't carry what you wanted or that new album hadn't been released yet. If you were patient, you could place a special order and wait for it to be delivered. Maybe the store would call you in a couple of weeks when your order came in. Maybe you'd have to pester the clerk by phone to keep checking. "Is it in yet? How about now?"
The same experience happened in the video store, but with a slightly different twist. You'd go to the store hoping to either stumble upon something that struck your fancy, or maybe find that new release of a big name movie that finally made it to VHS tape. Browsing the shelves was a physical process. You scanned the shelves looking for what you wanted, picking up empty boxes and reading the plot descriptions on the back. If you wanted that hot, new release you more often than not found that all five of the store's copies had been rented by other customers. You might sign up for a waiting list.
These experiences are all but gone now. Digital media has no physical presence. You can't touch it, you can't feel it. Consequently, you don't have to wait to possess it. There are no limits on how many copies exist. Everyone can have a copy on Day One of a release. When will that new album or movie be released to the public? Wonder no more. Your favorite download service tells you exactly when it'll be out. You won't be pleasantly surprised by accident anymore...but neither will you be in the dark. Now, all is revealed and everyone has access to once "secret" industry information.