Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Can't Watch Screens That Don't Move

For me, television equates to a screen typically sitting in a family room or living room where people plop themselves down and watch whatever shows they want to see.

But, yet again, that's my generation.

This point was brought home to me the other day when my daughter was going off to babysit.

We were telling her that once her young charges were off to bed, she could watch TV or maybe do some homework. We always have to suggest these things.

The response was that she did not want to watch TV on a big screen. Instead, she wanted to take an iPad or her laptop computer so she could use it for her video entertainment. To date, she does not have a smartphone with a screen for web browsing and similar functions.

When I inquired as to why she didn't want to sit and watch TV, it was difficult to elicit a concise answer, but what I determined was that she wanted a few things that old-fashioned TV simply does not offer:

First, it's not interactive. Live TV can't be started, stopped or fast-forwarded.

Second, related to not being interactive, it's not portable. She wanted to be able to manipulate not only the programming, but also be able to flip back and forth between watching video, talking to friends on Facebook, chatting with them using Skype and other functions.

Third, TV doesn't give you the number of options that a mobile device does. Despite cable TV services offering typically at least 100 channels of programming and sometimes upwards of 600 channels, that's nothing compared to what the Internet offers.

In short, the TV viewing experience that I grew up with — and still enjoy to this day — is clearly not what my daughter expects of her time being entertained.

In many ways, I admire the new way of watching TV. It's not just a solo or family experience. People nowadays can be entertained in their own homes while interacting with their friends wherever they might be.

Part of this is very exciting and interesting, but I also often like the down time or being just with my wife and family without all of the other interactions — some may call them distractions — of being part of a larger community all the time.

I fully expect that as I learn from my children how they receive their entertainment, I will find ways in which I will benefit from their new perspective on entertainment.

Until then, I'm going to enjoy television the old-fashioned way ... in the privacy and solitude of my home.

Mark Mathias, a 30-plus year veteran of information technology and a resident of Westport, Connecticut, was named by Computerworld magazine to their inaugural list of “Premier 100 IT Leaders.” This column was originally published in the Westport News on Wednesday 14 November 2012.

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