Tuesday, March 2, 2010

DivX - Seriously?

Have you ever wondered what DivX is and what it's good for? I haven't either, but I have written this blog post to supply two answers, the first of which comes from wikipedia, which straightforwardly declares that it is among the

... competitors in the proprietary commercial video compression software market ...
Perhaps so. It so happens that I have ready access to a hunk of consumer electronics with DivX, and I believe I have the better answer to these pointless questions: you're looking at it. DivX is what you see in the image posted above, and nothing more.

It's a bluff. It's a boast. It's a gimmick. It's bloat. It's a stunt. Judging from the official DivX web site, it's a wearying hall of mirrors, featuring hyperlinks that seem to point to detailed explanations but which, in fact, just point to more flashy images, techno-themed phrases, tedious marketing lingo, loud noises, and other baits designed to attract A/V nerds or people who aspire to be regarded as A/V nerds.

Concretely, it's the result of a transaction between a consumer electronics manufacturer and, well, some other party through which money changes hands to produce a stylish graphic that appears, especially at point of sale, on the features lists, promotional materials, and packaging associated with some hunks of consumer electronics.

For those still awake, I invite you to enjoy me on a brief tour of the hall of mirrors mentioned above. Here is the DivX home page*:

"See how," the hyperlink promises. How, you say? My question exactly! What follows is the DivX how, i.e., this is the result of that click:

I'm not seeing much in the way of how -- certainly not the how of how might I achieve this transformational experience?, although arguably there is some of the how of how might you illustrate this brilliant future with more extravagant claims?. Note the absence of genuinely informational hyperlinks amid all those sunny gasconades of the shining DivX-driven Future of Entertainment (click image to embiggen). I do not count the links to videos; ear-shattering and astonishingly stupid are not attributes of the genuinely informational.

Note those sidebar items, helpfully annotated:
* Overview
* Categories [Um, "overview" and "categories" turn out to be the same thing, namely, an enumeration of the kinds of consumer electronics whose packaging the DivX people have managed to inveigle their way to.]
* Solutions [No, these aren't solutions unless your problem happens to be "how can I get deeper into the recesses of this hall of mirrors?" That is not my problem.]
* DivX TV [Weirdly, this is where we are now.]
o For OEMs [I am not an OEM.]
o For Content Providers [I am not a DivX content provider; I did click the link and validated that, yes, this post does not make me the kind of content provider they have in mind.]
o For Advertisers [I am not an advertiser.]
o News [Pure, unalloyed puffery.]
DivX, please keep doing what you're doing -- nothing. I would hate to see you go blundering into touching things or trying to make things happen; on the available evidence, that would be a disaster.

* All screen images retrieved 3/2/2010 unless otherwise noted.

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