Recently I’ve written a lot of pro-analogue posts and I wanted to take the opportunity to talk about something that I think has been improved with digital technology.
When I was younger, we had four television channels and quite often there was nothing worth watching. Even when there was there were adverts on commercial channels trying to sell you things that you didn’t realise you wanted.
Then cable and satellite television came along and went some way towards solving the first problem – it would usually be possible to find something worth watching – but if anything it made the problem of adverts even worse.
The first phase of digitising television simply created more channels, so that there was almost always something on to watch. Then we got DVRs so we could record things that we wanted to watch in the same quality they were broadcast and watch what we wanted when we wanted. This improved things a lot, but mostly you had to remember to record things and, even though you could fast forward through the adverts, that was often more trouble than it was worth.
Finally, once the internet was fast enough to allow it, we got services like Netflix.
Now I can watch what I want, when I want without adverts. I don’t have to remember to record something because it is always there ready to stream.
There are downsides to this: we no longer have the big “event” programs that everyone talks about the following day, but I often find that other people have watched the same shows as me and even if we’re a little out of sync, we can usually have a conversation about them.
Although I don’t particularly like streaming music, I don’t have the same issues with television. I don’t tend to flip from program to program in the way I have done with streaming music. If there isn’t anything I’m keen to watch, then I’m quite happy to not watch anything at all.
Sometimes I consider going back to a pre-digital version of television, although as all the analogue channels were switched off a few years ago that would be impossible. I could achieve something similar with Freeview, but I’m not sure it would be worth the effort.