Appointment TV Is Dead (Sometime in the Future)

Appointment TV Is Dead (Sometime in the Future)

It’s always humorous when you read the crazy, archaic headlines written long ago. I mean, today they seem completely unintelligible. But at the time, you know that the writers believed the story to be some sort of grand revelation. Did they really think they were going to save the world or something?

For example, last week my classmates from Keg Creek High School and I worked on a project. The assignment was to explore Augusta as it was in the early 21st century. As part of the research, Mrs. Daniels suggested that we look up some of the old written media that were called “newspapers”. Newspapers were a real strange thing. Apparently, every day or every week, they would create a whole new media microsite, print the whole thing out on hard copy and then physically hand it out to everyone. Personally, it seems like a lot of trouble. But I guess it worked for them.

In the early 21st century, Augusta published a couple of different newspapers. The first one we looked at seemed better suited for my dad. Sure, it was kind of interesting reading about the opening of the old Kroc Center and how James Brown gave away turkeys at Christmas. Also, we were all surprised with the amount of drama in local politics back then. We thought that the local political drama was a new occurrence. To think that it’s been going on during all this time… that’s crazy!

But we wanted to see something else, something that told us more about Augusta’s personality. That’s when we ran across a stack of old papers buried in the back of the city’s public data center, almost like they were to be thrown out. Metro Spirit. All it took was a quick skim of the Whine Line to know that we were getting As on our project.

We spent the rest of the afternoon reading the stack of papers. For whatever reason, I kept getting drawn to the “technology” column. I guess the columnist was considered an expert of the time, but, to be honest, some of his ideas weren’t any more advanced than rubbing two sticks together to make fire. And some of his columns just seemed completely incoherent. Take for instance this one titled, “Appointment TV Is Dead.”

I have no idea what Appointment TV was. I think that TV was short for television, but why would anyone want to have an appointment with his or her TV? From what I gathered in the column, everyone would anxiously wait for new media files to be published. Then each week at a specific time, the new media files would be streamed to their TV. While the media stream could be saved, the preferred action involved gathering other individuals around the TV at the appointed time and viewing the media as a community. Weird.

Apparently, media services were going through a transition during this time period that must have been pretty exciting. Up until the first decade of the century, all media was distributed using the Appointment TV model over this thing called cable. The only option for on-demand media involved purchasing a streaming device called a DVD and going to this place called Blockbuster to obtain media. By 2010, several Internet companies provided streaming video services, but they were still relatively small.

In this column, the columnist cites a report stating that cable companies now have more Internet subscribers than cable subscribers. Of course, we know that trend continued, and it wasn’t much longer before all media moved to the Internet. That’s the way it’s still done today.

That is, unless you are stuck in the back of a data center rummaging through stacks of old newspapers. I have to admit, being able to hold paper in your hands and to read printed words is not entirely unpleasant. It reminds me of this thing they also used to do called writing. If I only knew where to buy something to write with, I might just give it a shot.

Until next time…


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