I installed a Roku the other day. Hooked it up to my wireless and the office television, activated the thing and prepared to go to town with watching television over the Internet via a box top set.
Let me tell you, the experience is over-rated.
You can add many, many channels through Roku's Channel Store. A lot of it is audio. That raises the question for me, why do I want to add a Roku to my television to watch audio over it?
Private channels are available as well. I went through many, many private channels and their offerings. Roku is very good at providing religious channels, weather channels, and news channels. You can tune into a local Kentucky television station and see their weather forecast for that day. You can watch some selected news segments. The whole thing? No. And there weren't any channels from my area. Guess they haven't been added.
Hula Plus is available to stream movies and television so you can watch "I Dream of Jeannie", as my wife pointed out to me, along with "Barney Miller" and "Third Rock From The Sun". I can also watch the NASA channel. I can see them building things and monitoring things.
Masterpiece Theater? No.
Local PBS? No.
"The Big Bang Theory?" Yes. Years one and two are available for $1.99 an episode through Amazon. Once you buy it, you 'own' it. A lot of sites will burst with enthusiasm about how great they are. Acorn TV looked good, offering some British shows but there weren't that many and most of them were old and things we'd already seen. NBC has its own private news channel but it limits what it will show.
Netflix? Please. I just ate.
How about sports? Well, you can watch the audio of different sports shows on your television. You can also spring for $300 a year to watch the NFL on your television through the Internet.
We did find some interesting things. BBC and ABC Australia both offered Book Clubs which were really interesting. I watched Germaine Greer dismiss Jeannette Winterson and her books, "Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?" and "Oranges Aren't The Only Fruit". She pointed out contradictions and how Winterson wrote several times, maybe this happened, maybe it didn't, irritating my wife, who states, "It's a memoir. It's one person's side, memories. It's not the truth." I agree with her. A memoir may or may not be the truth. It's how it was remembered or even colored to be remembered, by one side. She and the others also discussed "1984", and the meaning of truth and what Orwell's book did to our thinking and perception of truth.
Back to Internet TV, my wife went on with asking, "Why can't television be like the Internet? Why can't we just do a search for what we want to watch and have it show up?" That's sort of the essence of TiVo. It watches for you and records your preferences, let you watch what you want when you want to, as long as they've already been on and recorded. There are a lot of other reasons about the differences between the mediums. She wasn't interested in hearing them. Her point remained that she's not impressed with American television and its quality.
It doesn't suit her. That's a matter of taste and choice. I'm not real thrilled with it, either. We reflected, too, our experince with Dish TV and other offerings where hundreds to thousands of channels were available and yet, there was 'nothing on'. Most of the additional digital channels were offering the same Hollywood movies as one another, often repetitively over several hours and over several of 'their channels'. So what is the point? Others point out they offer the fishing channel. The golf channel. Football. So you buy 1,000 channels to add three?
That's the essence of the cable and even the television industry model. If it's bad, add more. More is better. More shopping, more cooking, more sports, more reality. It's not a question of different or quality, just more. Don't like Basic Cable? Add Basic Plus. Don't like that? Add Premium. Don't like that? Add packages. Watch movies on Sundance, IFC, ABC, HBO East West North South Classic Family Premium, and Showtime. Watch old westerns, sitcoms, police shows, game shows, reality shows, movies. Don't like what's on? Keep looking.
Sorry, that's not for us. She goes and reads a book.
I go and write one.
That's the best part of being a writer and trying to write fiction. Stories populate my head. I play a game of trying to find them, capture them in words and tell what I witness. It's frustrating, exhilerating, fun and wearying, but it beats what's on TV. Of course, that's a question of taste.
In the end, it seems so many of us are living so well that we search for diversion. We can't entertain ourselves so we seek it somewhere else. Some people are simply trying to acquire knowledge or experience the world through television. And for that, there are offerings that show us things we otherwise would not know and would never see. Earthrise from the ISS is quite amazing. Sunrise over a Pacific cyclone is beautiful.
Just think, though, someday maybe we'll begin developing hive minds, connecting with one another telepathically through drugs, training, growing evolution or technology. Then we can add minds and expand our awareness and thinking to try to divert ourselves, increase our consciousness, and solve problems.
And if we can't, we'll just add more.
Causes Michael Seidel Supports
Kiva, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Propublica.org, Doctors Without Borders, GreaterGood.com