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Choices From Oblivion

Choices From Oblivion

Choices From Oblivion

About 6 weeks ago Jen and I moved into a new apartment. After moving, we never really got around to setting up cable TV. At first, I figured that I would be able to get over the air channels, but as it turns out (unbeknownst to me)  all TV broadcasts in the US switched to digital broadcasts during the period of time I lived/traveled abroad for an extended period. While there are converters that I could buy to get over the air signal, I haven’t really liked the idea of spending $80 on  a good converter when I might pay for basic cable to set up in the future.

At first there was a noticeable pull that I was missing out. I craved information and entertainment. After a week or so, the drive to watch TV started to slip away. Instead of watching TV, Jen and I started playing a lot of Rummikub and spending a lot of time throwing a football- strange choice of activities for a couple in their 20s, but we love throwing our football.

I found other ways to fill my craving for information. I started getting my news almost exclusively from Google News. I find the Google News Spotlight section, which features everything from editorials to blogs to information on in depth information on current event, to be particularly interesting. I filled the rest of my craving for information on current events by reading various online forums that I frequent.

I’ve been filling my craving for entertainment by watching on demand shows and movies from Netflix and Hulu. Between these two services, there are literally hundreds of thousands (perhaps millions) of hours of programing readily available to watch at any time. As of now, I’m satisfied- I know that there are shows out there that I’d enjoy, but for the most part I’ve forgotten about them. As for cable, we’ll see what happens when college football season starts.

Now the interesting part- without a continuous stream of programing, I find that I don’t spend time watching things “just cause”. I didn’t realize it before, but vegging out in front of the TV took up a massive amount of my time. I could easily sit through a few hour long programs without realizing it. I wouldn’t have chosen to continue watching had the stream stopped after that hour. I also wouldn’t have known a lot of the shows that I ended up watching existed had they not come on immediately following something else I was already watching.

Without getting too philosophical, this has made me think a lot about the information that is quite literally force fed to the TV viewing public. I now consciously choose what types of information I seek out and am presented with. Granted, my primary news source is limited by what Google’s algorithm decides is important to display, but if I can customize the types of stories I see (if I want to) and if I am not interested in something after reading a headline, I skip over it instead of being force fed like in traditional television news. It’s also worth noting that Google news sources stories from thousands of sources world wide, unlike a traditional news paper.

From the entertainment side of things, I only watch what I’m seriously interested in. I find the things I watch from personal recommendations from friends and from things that I’m exposed to in online forums. Netflix does recommend shows and movies that are related to past choices, but the viewing experience is profoundly different from normal TV viewing.

What strikes the most about the transition I’ve made to no OTA (over the air) programming is this- I have so many choices for what I can watch on demand at any given time now. I can watch pretty much every show I used to watch OTA online with less (although more targeted) advertising and I can watch thousands of movies commercial free…but I increasingly find that I chose to watch less; actually a lot less.

Finally, this brings up something else- if you have an infinite number of choices in an on demand world far superior to the streaming model that lasted for so long, how do you chose?

1 Comment

  1. Possibly the greatest thing that I have read all year.

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