Meanwhile, back on earth….

200 years in the future, and the only black woman on board is STILL the receptionist.

Not to demonstrate my age, nor my geek childhood, but when I was a kid, Star Trek was my favorite show.

The plots were pretty simple. Captain Kirk and his crew flew millions of miles across the vacuum of space to arrive at other worlds where they beamed down and beat people up.

Kind of like the British Empire sailing off to India.

The only difference, I suppose, is that the crew of the Enterprise was supposed to conduct themselves under the ‘Prime Directive’ rule; that is, they were not supposed to interfere with the way a culture had developed.

This, of course, made for bad plots, so the first thing they did, no matter where they went, was toss that one into the bin and ‘save’ culture after culture from themselves. This was generally accomplished by Captain Kirk confronting a supercomputer that had singlehandedly run a planet for hundreds of years and ask it “If I always tell the truth, but say I’m lying.. then what does that mean?”; upon which said supercomputer would burst into smoke and flames, and presto, the planet was free to run amok.

I cannot help but think of this when I read that while Americans spend 4.5 hours a day watching video, that number is expected to jump to 5 hours a day in the next few years.

I suppose this is a function of video’s migration to the web. The median age of TV viewers apparently is now 50 years old, so the vast majority of all this video watching must be online or on screens.

Should these trends continue, it is entirely possible that we will create a culture that spends all its time staring at glowing screens, 24-hours a day.

Is this healthy?

I don’t know.

As a long-time advocate of the ‘democratization of television’, I certainly think that if video viewing is going to become the number one way of communicating ideas, (or indeed of even communicating); then it is pretty essential that everyone get to participate in the making of what we are all spending our lives looking at.

That having been said, I certainly have my qualms about becoming a nation, or indeed a planet, of full time screen starers. And 5 hours a day strikes me as already a hell of a lot of video consumption. If you live to be 85, that means 17.2 years of your life spent watching video.

While that is a lot of video, (and of course, the obvious question is ‘who is going to make it?’), perhaps a better question might be, is this the kind of culture we want to be creating?

Probably not.

But I don’t think we can wait for Captain Kirk to fly in and save us from ourselves.

And I have little faith that one of those ‘brain teaser’ questions is going to do the trick.


7 responses to “Meanwhile, back on earth….

  1. I actually enjoyed this posting from you!

    It made me smile!


  2. here on planet earth predicting the future by extrapolating from the past only works when the rate of change is very slow.

    google Thomas – Kuhn or Malthus

    time to change yr ribbon?

  3. Looking at the state of the planet today, I am not so sure Malthus was wrong. Just off on the timing, but not so wrong. As for $, delighted to entertain.

  4. good point – in the big picture “imminent” could easily stretch to 200 years.

    I hear Dick Cheney needs a new speechwriter….

  5. I think what he really needs is a good lawyer 🙂

  6. Good point. 5-6 hours a day watching videos perhaps is not out of the question. The limiting factor is how much time people will have to dabble in such amusements.
    Contrary, videos are becoming content delivery for education and coorporate training. This will be part of that 5-6 hours as well.

    5-6 hours… Unsure it matters.

    Phasers on stun, good luck, Kirk out.


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