If you’ve been on the web in the past week, you’ve probably seen references to Clay Shirky’s terrific talk (or video, if you prefer) at Web 2.0 Expo. The bit that seems to be resonating with most people is his answer to the question “where do you find the time [for all this new webby, social media stuff]?”:
So if you take Wikipedia as a kind of unit, all of Wikipedia, the whole project–every page, every edit, every talk page, every line of code, in every language that Wikipedia exists in–that represents something like the cumulation of 100 million hours of human thought. I worked this out with Martin Wattenberg at IBM; it’s a back-of-the-envelope calculation, but it’s the right order of magnitude, about 100 million hours of thought.
And television watching? Two hundred billion hours, in the U.S. alone, every year. Put another way, now that we have a unit, that’s 2,000 Wikipedia projects a year spent watching television. Or put still another way, in the U.S., we spend 100 million hours every weekend, just watching the ads.
I’ve been known to bemoan the ubiquity of televisions in public spaces. I write this blog post from a quaint little coffee shop in Yaletown. And, yep, there’s a TV in the corner.
I’ve been taking BC Ferries a lot lately. I used to sit in the traditionally quieter upper lounges. A few years ago, though, they stuck TVs in them. As if travelers can’t be responsible to entertain themselves for an hour and a half. Now it’s that much harder to find a quiet corner of the ship (I’m not paying for that ‘Lantern Lounge’ thingie until they get wifi). Yesterday was actually an exception to my curmudgeonly complaints about BC Ferries TVs. The TV was showing the second half of the Manchester United-Barcelona Champions League game.
During the game, I saw promotions for the forthcoming Euro 2008 football (er, soccer) tournament. For the first time in a few months, I felt a TV-related twinge. “Ooh, it’d be cool to have cable and watch that”.
Live Sports and Lingering Twinges
Those twinges are rare. I think the web and computer games were wearing away at it in recent years, but living abroad seems to have finally broken my TV watching habit. And it was ingrained. I watched a ton of TV as a kid. Bring over a blonde and a brunette and I can re-enact entire episodes of Three’s Company. The same goes for university.
I download shows, obviously, but I’m pretty selective about what I watch. My lingering interest in getting cable revolves entirely around watching live sports–hockey and soccer. I’d gladly pay a small amount to watch a high-quality, commercial-free-ish sports event on the web, but the media companies can’t help me with that yet.
Today, my options are either a minuscule, unreliable CBC live feed, or buying NHL games on iTunes. For reasons I don’t understand, the NHL is only offering an occasional game on iTunes. What’s stopping them from immediately posting every game? I’d gladly pay $1.99 each to watch 10 or 15 games a year.
Still, I don’t think this sports gap will be enough for me to pay for cable next fall. Goodbye, broadcast television. It’s been real.