The Oak Leaf

This is not what we signed up for

Quinn Conklin, Web Editor

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Between the changes at Facebook, the division of Netflix and the release of Star Wars on Blu-Ray we are seeing a number of unasked for changes in the brands we use and love.  Whenever we put in the DVD or log on to the web site and see things have changed, we feel betrayed.
Facebook
In the last month Facebook has rolled out a number of changes: a new ticker, smart lists and subscriptions. These features provide new ways for users to manage their streams and target updates they want to see. However, every time Facebook makes any kind of change everyone shares their opinion and they all hate it. But they keep using it.
As users it’s easy to resent these changes. For many people, Facebook feels like our home on the internet; when it changes it’s like coming home and finding the furniture rearranged.
But Facebook is not home. It is at best a guesthouse in someone else’s home and at worst a cage in a hen house. We do not pay for Facebook with money, but by allowing them to show us ads. Like a chicken farmer they put out the seed, the site, and take our eggs, the clicks.
In the end, it is their farm and they can make the changes they want.
Netflix
On Sept. 1, Netflix made the first change in what appears to be an ongoing series of changes. The company has raised the price of its DVD and streaming business by about 60 percent. Now Netflix charges separately for the two services and the streaming business was split off and rebranded as Quickster.
Netflix knew this would not be a popular decision. Subscribers were notified of the changes through an apology email from CEO and co-founder Reed Hastings.
“I messed up. I owe you an explanation. It is clear from the feedback over the past two months that many members felt we lacked respect and humility in the way we announced the separation of DVD and streaming and the price changes,” Hasting wrote in the beginning of the announcement.
He further explained the split would give Netflix a competitive edge in the streaming market so it would not end up like AOL or Borders.
Now a company has to be flexible to survive, but it must not drastically change its product so that it alienates the customer base.
Star Wars
George Lucas has released a Blu-Ray collection of all six movies, a move that should have fans rejoicing. However, Lucas decided once again to “enhance” the movies. He rerecorded dialogue, replaced puppet Yoda with CGI and added digital effects to the Ewoks. In other words: a new way for Lucas to make more money.
Star Wars is a cultural phenomenon. For many it is a landmark in their childhood, a loved and treasured memory. While the movies started as Lucas’s creation, they now have a life of their own that lives in the hearts of fans who want to revisit it the way they remember.
In three situations, profit-motivated companies have made changes without showing respect to consumers. Some are more warranted then others; Facebook is doing the thing  it deems is necessary to keep people coming to its site. Others are not; Lucas is tampering with memories while he stagnates, stuck on perfecting an old idea.
Whether warranted or not, these changes have left consumers feeling disrespected. How much more will we take before we take our dollars elsewhere?

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A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.
This is not what we signed up for