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Internet merging with television while offering new versions of traditional TV

Dave Masko's picture

Today’s television viewing demands more than access to the old TV set because viewers want to merge their TV viewing habits with what they view online; thus creating a blur of what to view online or on the TV.

The merging of television with online viewing really took hold in 2010 when “the iPlayer incorporated a social media aspect to its Internet television service, including Facebook and Twitter,” states a British “Energy Saving Trust” report titled “The Rise of the Machines,” that also revealed how the Internet is now playing “a pivotal role” in today’s TV viewing habits. Meanwhile, a report in The New York Times from last year - titled “Plummeting TV Prices” - states that American consumers “purchase a new television every seven years, and the average household owns 2.8 televisions." So TV’s are not going away anytime soon, with the Times also reporting that “48 million TV sets sold in 2011, at an average price of $460 and side of 38 inches.” And, just like the Internet, TV is a telecommunications medium for transmitting and receiving moving images that come with or without accompanying sound. In turn, both the Net and the traditional TV offer much the same thing, say experts.

Old and young alike trying TV online

At the same time, even seniors who traditionally watched TV in community recreation rooms are now retreating to their rooms where computers are used for not only e-mailing or sending Skype video messages; but also to view the senior’s favorite soaps, game shows or the ever popular History station.

“I never liked computers, but I’m now watching most of my TV online,” explains a Florence, Oregon, senior named Pete; while standing in pleased surprise next to his PC playing last night’s “Jeopardy" TV show.

Also, younger TV fans now say that they have like capabilities using their smartphones and tablets. “I watch traditional TV with my folks, but I find most of what I like to watch on TV online,” explains Eugene naturalists Blake who adds: “But, what’s best is no TV, no online, but my gal and me enjoying a cool one in the backyard.”

Politicians see their future in online TV ads

Just because you own a D.V.R. or watch television online does not mean political commercials are not coming soon to a screen near you, explains a recent New York Times report on the growing trend of featuring traditional TV political ads online.

In turn, the Times reported a “survey conducted last May on voters’ television viewing habits, which is often cited by Romney advisers, found that 31 percent of likely voters had not watched television ‘live’ - that is, at the time it was being broadcast, as opposed to online or on a recording device - in the previous week. And of the 17 percent who said they mostly watched programs recorded on devices like a D.V.R., a large majority skipped through ads most of the time. The nationwide telephone survey was conducted by Public Opinion Strategies, a Republican polling firm, and SEA Polling and Strategic Design, a Democratic polling firm.”

Also, the Times explained how “digital” today doesn’t just mean traditional TV.

“This will likely become the first truly digital election because so many people are not paying attention to live TV,” said Darrell M. West, director of the Center for Technology Innovation at the Brookings Institution in this New York Times report that also said “many campaigns were beginning to integrate the study of online behavior into their digital strategies.”

For instance, West told the Times: “In many respects, it’s analogous to the emergence of TV advertising in the 1960s.”

In addition, the Times reported how “television will still account for a vast majority of the money spent on political advertising — billions this year, and 9 out of every 10 advertising dollars, strategists estimate. But with the return on that investment becoming less of a sure bet, campaigns are taking advantage of technologies to track and model browsing behavior as never before. “

Moreover, web gurus are now using your Internet history to target what TV shows you may like to watch online.

Using the Web histories of the people who fit that profile, the New York Times also reported how “Lotame, an audience analytics company uses algorithms to find other computer users who might have similar political sentiments based on their browsing. Looking at what these people do online - what they read, where they leave comments and what content they share with friends - all helps refine the sample.

Being there, “watching” TV on a set or online

Are you watching me now; please watch me now – meaning watch TV online over just viewing shows on your old TV set; big deal, say critics of this trend in finding new applications for TV technology developed years ago.

Technology developed years ago – back in the 1990s – is still being repacked in 2012 in a sort reverse mode, say experts; with people these days simply using different means to view and read information while no new innovations are happening expect more people are now watching TV online.

The problem with technology today, state experts -- who want today’s youth to do more than just surf the Net – is “we are now at an extrapolative and incremental state in which the primary focus is just about expanding capacity and finding new applications for technology developed years ago,” explains innovation guru George Friedman; while also noting how this is “a position similar to the plateau reading by personal computers at the end at the end of the dot-com bubble.”

In turn, Friedman says there’s no real ‘Gee-Wiz’ factor with the iPad or iPad2, 3or iPad4 or whatever new model of this screen to view information because the iPad “is ultimately just rearranging the furniture, rather than building a new structure.”

Friedman, founder and CEO of STRATFOR, the world’s leading publisher of global geopolitical intelligence, also notes how “apps” are about as gee-wiz as sliced bread these days because they’re just “new devices” that do the same old thing of trying to make technology from decades ago “more efficient;” while technology leaders such as Facebook are doing nothing more innovation wise than “selling advertising and making a profit on the Internet.”

Old technology is being re-packed in 2012

In the 1990s, two technological tributaries involving communications and data merged into a single stream with information in electronic binary form that could be transmitted by way of existing telephone circuits. Here, today, in 2012, “nothing much has changed with the exception of various versions of ways to read information on screens both big and small,” explains George Friedman, founder of the world’s leading publisher of global geopolitical intelligence that is looking for “innovators” who are more than just computer science experts who want to make big bucks selling stuff online.

Friedman says America needs “innovators” who are doing something more than just creating more ‘apps’ to sell you stuff; or creating new gee whiz video games for geeks and others to use as an escape from the real issues plaguing humanity right now in 2012.

In turn, Friedman’s bestseller “The Next 100 Years,” and now “The Next Decade: Where We’ve Been, and Where We’re Going” argues that unless you want version No. 2, 3, 4 of either a smartphone or tablet, there’s nothing new in terms of “serious technology innovations” happening now in 2012.

At the same time, Friedman argues that while innovation – that he divides into voice and video – has had a profound effect on the way the world works; it’s more or less a so what, who cares, we’ve been doing that for “decades now with no real new innovations” other than new means to surf the Internet with various sized screens.

Moreover, Friedman asserts that “the personal computer has become just a tool for carrying out a series of traditional functions; while the human voice – in face-to-face communications is still superior than sending people Tweets, texts or e-mails because the message doesn’t get skewed when you’re actually talking to a real, live person.

Innovators needed to do more than be quick on line

“The author of the acclaimed New York Times bestseller The Next 100 Years now focuses his geopolitical forecasting acumen on the next decade and the imminent events and challenges that will test America and the world, specifically addressing the skills that will be required by the decade’s leaders,” states a marketing pitch for
Friedman’s writing on why today’s technology needs to turn the corner and come up with something bigger than just a new screen to view videos.

For instance, Friedman notes how “the next ten years will be a time of massive transition. The wars in the Islamic world will be subsiding, and terrorism will become something we learn to live with. China will be encountering its crisis. We will be moving from a time when financial crises dominate the world to a time when labor shortages will begin to dominate. The new century will be taking shape in the next decade.”

Thus, what good does an iPad2 or a new version of the same do for the world when it needs innovations that are not about viewing or reading the same old stuff online.

Information overload produces unhealthy behavior

With so many “angry birds” to watch online and too many e-mails with far too much irrelevant data, it’s no wonder that Americans are stressed-out with “information overload.”

For instance, Friedman writes that the “dramatic increases in productivity once driven by technology – which helped to drive the economy decades ago – are now declining” to something along the lines of “let’s view photos of the latest celebrity.”

Again, today’s technology is the same old stuff on even smaller or even larger screens.

And, at the same time, there’s a downside to no new technology other than the latest app on your smartphone to remind you what day it is; while iPads may offer some ‘wows’ when viewing a cool video that your brother just sent you from across the world, who really cares, say critics of today’s “technology doldrums.”

Technology gives us nifty new ways to communicate, but nothing more

“New technologies such as cell phones and the Internet have exerted a major influence on the distribution of information,” that renowned information management expert Guus Pijpers reveals in his new book “Information Overload,” as producing a type of mental illness and unhealthy environments for both children and adults who can no longer “avoid the feeling of being inundated” with more information than the human brain can handle.

Pijpers writes “as a society, we have arrived at a point where almost all information is available to almost everyone,” and thus it’s just too much for human’s to process because – state a host of experts on health and stress – “we are not machines.”

People viewed as getting too cozy with technology

The term “information overload” was first coined by Alvin Toffler in his 1970 book “Future Shock,” that talked about issues caused by the presence of too much information. Toffler also viewed “information overload as “the information age’s version of sensory overload,” where human beings become “cold souls” due to more artificial stimulation from “cold machines” over normal interactions with fellow human beings that has gone on for thousands of years before computers made our lives “so user friendly.”

“When the individual is plunged into a fast and irregularly changing situation his/her predictive accuracy plummets. He/she can no longer make the reasonably correct assessments on which rational behavior is dependent,” writes Toffler in his best seller “Future Shock.”

In turn, Pijpers writes in his recently released “Information Overload” – that’s a popular book at colleges and universities around the country right now – that people are getting “sick” because they want their brains to absorb all that’s being offered on the Internet and via their smartphones, but they simply can’t handle it all.

TV programing now found in the workplace, and everywhere

“Digital workplaces are becoming increasingly more an extension of us, especially of our memory,” writes Pijpers, while also stating in his new book that “many of the latest cell phones and similar gadgets already include functions that support” and even harm our brains.”

Also, the digital workplace is now a place to watch TV online; while in the days before computers were present in workplaces, TV viewing was usually done at home in the living room with the family after dinner or on weekends. Now, it seems, television shows are playing everywhere: in people’s offices, in shopping malls, in doctor’s offices, in classrooms and even in posh bathrooms that have computer screens playing non-stop sports and other popular TV programming.

In fact, children as young as kindergarten age are being introduced to computers and iPhones, iPads without first teaching them how to communicate as people, stated one concerned parent at a recent school meeting in Coos Bay, Oregon. “I want my child to speak properly before she must compute,” the parent asserted during a recent school discussion.

Moreover, teachers report a rise in absenteeism due to information overload. “They just become overwhelmed. They are given so much information in school, and then they get more with connections to the cell phones and the Internet that by the end of their day one’s brain becomes mush. They call in sick because their parents can relate to being overwhelmed,” explains Coos Bay teacher Terry who said he’s seen “a rise in absenteeism that correlates to an increase in the use of technology in schools.”

“I think something inside is telling them they need to shut down for a bit,” Terry adds about the rise in people viewing endless programming on both TV and online.

In turn, Pijpers writes that technology is literally taking over the tasks that teachers once provided for young students. “Even stronger, they (computers) are not just an extension of your hands, ears and eyes. As far as context is concerned, they (computers) are now viewed as indispensable as well. As someone said to me recently: ‘If I lose my cell phone, I lost part of my memory.’”

At the same time, Pijpers writes in “Information Overload,” that “some of the brain’s tasks are being taken over by smart devices.” And, thus, what does such power over produce in young children who’ve yet to learn how to present themselves in public and in life, ask doctors and teachers who have to deal with children with new learning difficulties and adults who complain that “there are not enough hours in the day.”

Overall, Pijpers thinks “there will certainly be a time when human beings can no longer function properly without the aid of these intelligent devices.”

The human brain hardly knows what’s happening to it due to information overload; even when it’s simply a program that’s presented either on traditional TV or online.

Internet’s impact exaggerated; while it’s just more TV

The view from a Nobel Prize nominee Ha-Joon Chang - one of the leading economic advisors to the United Nations - that “the washing machine has changed society more than the Internet” -- has more than raised eyebrows at the University of Oregon’s famed “Wearable Computing Lab” that was founded in 1995 at the dawn of the information-era when people were able to transfer information more freely.

In turn, Chang says television doesn’t do much better than simply amusing people with yet more information to watch on screens.

Digital-age fans here at the University of Oregon view the Internet as revolutionizing just about everything. “Not so,” states Ha-Joon Chang, a University of Cambridge, England, economist who presents his views on the washing machine in the spring edition of Ode magazine.

Chang argues that the Internet’s revolutionary is pretty harmless, and has produced yet more “information overload.”

The Nobel Prize nominee also notes that the Internet and TV is “simply creating more information for people to look at.”

“Instead of reading a paper, we now read the news online or on TV. Instead of buying books at a store, we buy them on-line. What’s so revolutionary? The Internet has mainly affected our leisure life,” he adds.

Moreover, Chang questions all the hype about the good stuff the Internet is doing for the poor.

“Charities are now working to give people in poor countries access to the Internet. But shouldn’t we spend that money on providing health clinics and safe water? Aren’t these things more relevant? I have no intention of downplaying the importance of the Internet, but its impact has been exaggerated,” and just produced more information overload.

Thus, overall, it’s a race for hearts and minds, say experts, with those wanting you to view programming on traditional TV seeming to be just as happy if you also watch it online.

Image source of an American family watching TV in 1958. Today, many people watch their TV online. Photo courtesy Wikipedia

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