Friday, May 22, 2009

TV is dead! Long live TV!

I didn't get to watch television until I was into my 20's. TV was available in only in New Delhi and a couple of other major cities in India for long while. So when we finally purchased a TV set in the 1980s it was an exciting moment and a whole new adventure in life was about to begin -- or so I believed. Those were the days when there were just a couple of channels -- all run by Doordarshan -- and only a few really watchable programs. And then there was news -- it was a novelty to actually watch moving images outside of the movie theater newsreels that I grew up on.

I moved to the US a few years later -- the land of many, many channels, and really slickly produced programs. And then came cable TV, a veritable firehose of channels. But I soon realized that all that advancement in technology had only produced quantity, not quality. Most programs were not worth watching -- like sweetened, carbonated drinks: all fizz, no content. Eventually, I stopped turning on my TV, and soon realized that I was wasting the $40 that I paid the cable company monthly only so as to be able to watch the occasional good program. So I cut cable.

I found I spent far more time on the internet -- which I found indispensable -- which not only was a source of information, but also entertainment. I soon stopped my newspaper subscription. Reading the daily newspaper was a habit I had formed in my childhood, and so it was hard to give up. Picking up and browsing a newspaper is one of the most instinctive of habits in me. But I didn't miss the newspaper either, and I relished not having to carry a pile of newspapers every month to the dumpster (or recycling bin).

Yes, the 'net has become a one-stop-shop for everything information-related. Now it turns out that at least in the US, even the TV programs that one really would want to watch are available on the web. There is no more reason to possess a TV other than to be used as a large screen for watching programs downloaded or streamed from the internet.

In fact, I hate having large, heavy, expensive, and fragile appliances such as a TV. Much better to get one of those tiny LCD projectors. Hook it up to a laptop and some good speakers and you have a portable movie system which you can move to any room or any place.

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