January 16, 2006
I entered this New Year lethargic, headachy and less motivated
than I would have wanted [a bacterial infection]. My consolation
is that I am in good company. I swear a third of New York
City has this creeping crud thing and while occasionally miserable,
I am not Ariel Sharon, lying in his hospital bed, effectively
removed from the world scene by a stroke while Israel, though
distraught by his illness, continues to function at a higher
level than many would have expected.
Nor am I the 35 year old policeman in New York City who,
while answering a call about reported gunshots, complained
of chest pains and died on the spot.
My bacterial infection is discomforting and manageable. Much
of life is not, and I find myself in this New Year ruminating
on the transience of life; and the speed of change. I live
in the sci-fi world of my childhood.
Sharon is effectively gone though his presence will be felt
for another half generation at least.
And the world that reports on events such as Sharon's
stroke is rapidly changing in its methodology and, indeed,
the speed at which information gets to us. For the last ten
years or more, the technological changes at the gates of television
and old media have been threatening old models.
Television and media as we have known it in our lives is
changing, finally, and faster than most expected. The broadcast
networks are still a force and they no longer control more
than 45% of the primetime audience. Cable networks are busy
emulating the broadcast networks old business models and are
having trouble making a go of it. Broadness of content may
not be a key to success.
One high placed cable executive was quoted as saying: NO
MORE NETWORKS. Broadband plays only.
A year or two ago we hadn't heard of the
blogosphere, really, and now it is all the rage and most everyone,
it seems, has a blog of their own and the blogs are becoming
major influencers of events.
The blogs don't let anyone get away with
anything. Firedoglake.blogspot.com caught Wal-Mart suggesting
biographies of Martin Luther King to people who were interested
in PLANET OF THE APES. Ooopsâ€¦.
Political blogs are having an Abramoff heyday these days.
Scandal is their reason to beâ€¦
It is a different way of having news relayed, discussed,
analyzed and assimilated into the consciousness. The technological
changes are having a profound affect, not just on news but
for entertainment also.
Andy Serkis, the actor who in motion capture, captured the
character of Golum in LORD OF THE RINGS and Kong in KING KONG,
is being honored, with the animators, by the Broadcast Film
Critics Association. Oscar, however, is not listening.
It occurred to me while I was down with my bacterial blight
that the very definition of television as it has been understood
by my generation is not the same definition younger generations
have. Television is everywhere and is going to be even more
ubiquitous in days to come. The CES Show in Vegas unveiled
many devices to let us watch television anywhere we want,
picking things up from the air or downloaded from the net
[though downloading for one device won't
necessarily let you play on another].
It reminds me that awhile ago someone was telling me about
a three year old at her grandparents' house,
frustrated with how little the â€screens'
at their home did.
I am, personally, no longer a passive watcher yet I'm
probably more passive in many cases than a ten year old. It
is the new world that began back in the 1970's
with Qube, a cable industry experiment with interactivity
in an experimental system. Those exciting things have happened,
are happening and will continue to happen.
For those of us in the media of a certain age, we should
be celebrating. This constant adaptation will result in us
exercising our brains and staving off the baby boomers greatest
fear ' the onslaught of age. For those not of a certain age,
the challenge will be to continue to be flexible and to find
fun in the continuing changes and for all of us to make visual
content compelling as we become submerged in the digital river.