Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Not like when I was a kid

Broadcast tv seems to be headed toward extinction.  Steaming from Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, Hulu Plus, Vudu and the tv broadcasting companies such as ABC, CBS (down 1 screenful) and NBC are making many shows available in a downloadable or streamable format.  TV shows like "White Collar" and "Perception" come up on less traditional tv stations such as TNT.  HBO, Showtime, and similar organizations make some of their own shows.  So, 55 million people tuning in to a given network all one time is getting less common.  This fractures the audience and makes making super-big dollars more difficult.  However, in the long run, more good viewing seems likely.

Book sales are also in flux.  We can still go to a bookstore and buy a book of paper pages.  But we can download a book from Amazon, Barnes and Noble and from Google, as well as an increasing number of private sites.  J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter Pottermore site for the sale of ebooks in more than 20 formats is a good example.  You and I can put our own manuscripts on Amazon's site for sale, although getting them noticed is itself a big undertaking.

Even borrowing books is changing fast.  It is not a simple thing to stay aware of the various ways I can get a book to read without buying it.  There is a Kindle loaning program, allowing one borrowed book a month.  I can rent some books at very reduced prices.  My local public library and some university libraries loan books for free or nominal prices.

And, of course, telephoning is also changing formats radically.  We still have a landline but many of our friends do not.  People use Google Talk or Skype to converse by voice using their computers.  I still haven't been on Twitter but the very short 140 character limit is extremely popular with people, especially young people and those without the time or inclination to say much.  I can send a Google Voice text message "Lunch at Harry"s 1:00 tomorrow?" and my friend returns "K" and with very little time or revelation, lunch is arranged.

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