There has been a lot of talk as of late about the future of television. A lot of hype about second screens, the 10 foot vs 18″ view, etc. Cord cutting. Lots of cord cutting.
I think a lot of this is missing the point.
Most of the talk about the future of television still validates the hegemony of the television itself. Think about it: we put devices in our home to receive transmissions that entertain. Our entertainment is subservient to the value of our attention for advertisers. Television has gotten more “interactive” but honestly, it is a joke.
The degree to which DirecTV, Dish, Comcast, etc lag behind computing is ridiculous, especially given that some of these same people put the bandwidth pipes in our home that we use to distract ourselves from the media they provide. You’d think they were sabotaging themselves. And, that is partially right. What they are doing is something I referred to in my last post about colored data, albeit willingly. They make it difficult to do anything through the means they provide that don’t directly benefit them. Why is my iPad, which weighs 1.8 pounds more powerful the my DirecTV box? It can even display more pixels!
In the last year I’ve found the amount of time I’m willing to devote to the television diminishing. When we moved into our new house, I envisioned my ideal utopia that I had longed for: no 180 degree view without a TV in it. TV’s everywhere. I grew up in a house like this (and my grandparents still have one). I’d have all these TV’s on an IP based network or an HDMI distributor. It’d be marvelous.
The fact is, we have two older TV’s in this house. I barely sit to watch any of them. The one in our bedroom hasn’t been turned on in three weeks. The one in our living room gets some usage, but only when I’m home alone because my wife is out (I watch BluRays that she doesn’t like), or when my wife and I sit to watch one of the few shows I still keep up on.
If I’m not watching with her, my wife watches everything on Hulu or other places on her iMac. I even hooked up a DirecTV box to both our iMacs and we still never watch that way. What a waste.
My son, who is 2.5 years old uses our TV as a big iPad. Literally. 90% of the programming he watches comes from an AppleTV or via AirPlay. And I’d say he only watches things on the TV maybe 50% of the time. Most of the time if we do the horrible thing of letting moving image occupy him, it’s on his iPad.
My utopia of TV’s everywhere, 1080P 7.1 speaker sound systems that shook the room and BluRay collections to rival the best was stupid. I thought about upgrading our television to one of the new super thin 65″ ones. But then I thought: why bother.
And there in lies the future of TV. It won’t involve televisions.
It’ll involve a big, agnostic monitor on your wall. 4K resolution possibly. And even then, maybe that big space on your wall that was once a TV is now a painting because everyone has their own Retina display tablets in their lap and is thereby occupied.
The “future of television” rhetoric is being driven by those that depend on television having a future. The fact that this future doesn’t contain what we consider a “television” anymore scares the life out of them.