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Frontline on PBS recently ran the documentary Digital Nation. It’s a progress report of sorts about the effects on us as we live increasingly more of our lives online. There was a compelling account of South Korean Internet addicts, kids who game nonstop until all that’s left of them is a burned-out shell attached at the navel to the online world. The report noted these sad cases as casualties of the new online age.
Which got me to thinking. It feels like we’re drawing ever closer to living in the Metaverse Neal Stephenson envisioned in his seminal novel Snow Crash. That virtual world in the book is New York on meth: fast, bright, overwhelming, and undeniably urban.
And yet. We haven’t evolved the capacity to exist there. That’s what it feels like to me, some kind of evolutionary leap. For people who thrive in the city, that is. My first instinct is I’m not moving in until I know there will be someplace where I can hide from the rush.
I wonder if there will be places to get away in the ‘Verse. There’ll have to be, people being who they are. There will have to be sanctuaries. We model our world based on what we know, so I wonder whsat shape communities of the online world will take. Will there be a downtown? How about green spaces and parks? Will you be able to visit server farms out in the country? Will you fly your avatar back to your online suburban space?
Last month, the Day of Reckoning came for two of our TV channels. They made the switch from analog to digital, and were lost to our poor old TV forever. (Well, not lost entirely. They left behind nice sets of instructions on why our favorite shows weren’t able to be seen anymore.)
Three days of missing Family Guy later, I took my government coupon to Radio Shack and bought a digital converter box, and had it hooked up in an hour. I was excited but skeptical about the claim that DTV brought more channels into the home, as about half the complaints on the internet were about less channels coming in, not more.
To my delight, we do have more channels. An extra channel 4, an extra channel 6, and two extra public television stations. What this means in benefits is extra educational programming, and old TV shows.
When I was sick a couple weeks ago, I was able to spend an entire weekend watching old westerns and whodunits, along with the pilot of Battlestar Galactica. The old Battlestar Galactica, thank you very much. Tonight it was Alfred Hitchcock Presents, in all its black-and-white glory.
I hereby dub DTV acceptable. The only thing missing is the local Spanish-language channel, which apparently is still analog-only. But I’ll give that up for Battlestar Galactica and old westerns.