Thursday, May 17, 2007

Thing 7: Technology Musings

Week 3:
7. Create a blog post about anything technology related that interests you this week.

Something Chris Anderson (The Long Tail) said during his address to MLA has kind of nagged at the back of my mind. He told us that his children have no concept of television that is NOT on demand. They are accustomed to being able to select exactly what they will watch at all times.

Look how far we've come.

A short walk down memory lane - go back 30 years, when I was ... an infant (yeah, that's the ticket), I lived in Baltimore, and we had 2 color TVs. We used rabbit ears to receive 5 channels: ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, and whatever channel 45 was (it's FOX now - btw, FOX didn't exist). We waited for the programs we wanted to watch, and if you missed it, shame on you, because you were stuck waiting for the re-runs in a few months, if you did. And your friends would discuss whatever was on "Starky & Hutch" the night before, and ruin it all for you.

Nowadays, I have the TV on a lot in my condo, but it's mostly for background noise, because I don't really watch it, except for the news and "House, MD," my favorite show. Tuesday night at 9PM on FOX. I'm not doing anything but House during that time, so don't ask.

I've become a total fanatic - no - FANGIRL - that's the correct term now. You can log on to the House, MD website, and any number of unofficial websites about the show, too. There is a whole livejournal community of fangirls/boys out there who actually discuss the program on the Internet while it's in progress.

Hundreds of messages are flying back and forth all around the World about exactly what is happening on the screen, whether the writers are doing a good job, whether the characters and lines were silly or on-target.

Did I say WORLD? I meant it. There are folks on the West Coast who just can't wait another 3 hours for their Hugh Laurie fix, and people in England who watch the posts because they can't wait for season three to start over there! And someone in Canada seems to get what's happening about one minute before everyone else, and sends spoilers every now and then.

People who are actually watching express their irritation with whatever they don't like, or their pleasure, or what-have-you. Immediately after the show you can log on to another site to participate in the "Post-Mortem," where everyone takes the show apart after the fact.

If you should miss the show, you can just wait about a week and head over to TV-Links to see if someone has posted a link to a pirated copy of the program. Commercial-free. How cool is that? Of course, you can just wait until the following week and watch the latest House, MD on another network. Seriously, TV-Links is very cool. I was able to catch up on all the "Pimp My Ride" episodes which had kind of gone off my radar screen a couple seasons back, but I'm all caught up now."

I'm such a fanatic, though, that I bought a DVD recorder (I'm not buying TIVO for one show) - $95 at Walmart. So I have about half the season recorded, just in case I want to re-watch before the re-rerun season. Good thing, too, because I wanted to see a re-broadcast of "Il Barbiere di Siviglia" at a local movie theatre the other day, and it ran from 7-10PM. The New York Metropolitan Opera is simulcasting live operas in HD to movie theatres now! (Why haven't we been doing this since forever? Sports are shown all over creation, but the arts? What's wrong with us?) Anyway I got to have my cake and eat it, too.

So we truly get to control our consumption of media now. And I am torn between shocked and thrilled that there is a whole generation that has no idea what it's like to have to wait - a long time - until the media is ready. And they are being preceded by a generation that didn't have "tying your shoelaces" as a developmental milestone.

Every time I am confronted with evidence of such a major change in the way we live our lives, I have to remind myself that there was once a time when the ancient philosophers were concerned that writing everything down, rather than memorizing it, might be detrimental to humanity. They were worried that it might de-evolve us in some way (of course, not in those exact words). Instead, writing things down freed up the brain for other thinking, enhanced by information stored elsewhere. Think of all the ways the brain is being freed by computers, the Internet, and now, all the cool 2.0 tools out there. We've been in the middle of a tremendous intellectual renaissance for quite some time; I have no idea where we're going to end up, but I can't wait to see where we will be.


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