I am not fanatical about television – either the programming or the electromagnetic audio-visual receiver. But having said that I do acknowledge that I grew up with television. In my pre-shule days it diverted me so my mother might do housework. But as soon as I could read it became third to books and books. In my shule days it occasionally provided instruction, occasionally on the instigation of the teacher. But receivers were not classroom standard in those days and so most of the instruction, especially George Toffel, were on my own initiative. The college years were almost television free – lacking slack time. As an undergraduate Star Trek and Laugh-In were staple must-sees. I can recall taking a final exam in nuclear chemistry working feverishly and the professor asking why the rush? and I replied that I wanted to get through in time to get to see Star Trek. Such was my performance in his course he did not counsel care. But graduate shule was a television desert. I am not sure I missed much in those years.
I do like the new digital receivers. They have less mass. But greater resolution has been matched by lesser quality of programming. Television has dropped to number four or five on the list. Hence it was with some incident amusement that I noted an article [Link] on advances in receivers. Sadly most of these advances are either not, or negative.
I will note approvingly of an attempt to produce a receiver that can display two different streams of programming, viewable at different angles. While the approach is new, the idea is old. I saw a similar capability in the late ’70′s that used polarization. Basically this is a couple’s receiver so that two can watch together different programs. I know this need well. FD SCP and I struggle to find something to watch that we both can stomach/endure. Sometimes we cannot and one or the other, if not both wander off to do other things.
The other “advances” are about what is displayed. A lot of this seems to be better (?) searching and even suggesting ala Amazing. I do not expect these things to be much more than nuisances but I am equally sure that I will someday buy a receiver with these capabilities just because there are no escape choices. My problem with them is the same as Amazing. Since I sometimes buy presents or stuff for FD SCP, the data set is a mixture of stuff I am interested in and stuff I am only interested in at particular times or under particular circumstances. Thus, except at birthday anniversary and winter solstice, I am uninterested in sewing books but Amazing always offers me several.
This is rather in the same sinkhole as calling a cellular telephone “smart”. It is not. Appliances cannot be smart. They can however be rigorously organized – that’s what computers are – and attentive in certain dimensions. Indeed, they can only be this way and not be smart because smart is not so anal and singular. But I find I am constantly frustrated, irritated, and annoyed by my cellular telephone. It consistently does thing I do not want done or in ways I do not want pursued. I was happy with my old Motorola ‘flip phone’. It was talk only and it was big enough to reach from my ear to my mouth. Yes, it was heavy and bulky. Minor negatives.
Every phone since has been less. They do more. And they are either too small – egregiously – or argumentative and/or wayward. I treasure that in humans, not in machines. And being so doens not make them smart except in the abrasive meaning.
So too do I expect of television. I expect the quality and enjoyability of programming to continue to steadily decrease so that eventually we are watching still photographs of flies crawling on feces in resolution more than the eye can differentiate. I also expect the receivers to be even more obnoxious than they are now. We currently get a mixture of analog and digital streams and I have to fight with the receiver to switch from one type to the other. I also do not expect search and suggestion to work well. Despite what FD SCP says, the Riki Tiki Tavi method is still the best, IMHO. And a good book is a necessity to enjoying whatever is being viewed.
But I do still have DVDs of several old programs – like Science Fiction Theater. They can provide balm in times of wasteland irritation. And the search and suggestion capabilities are orthogonal to such. Thankfully.