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Broadband and Digital Video


John Simkin
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It seems that the growth in broadband has increased the number of people using the internet. My traffic (and revenues) has definitely dramatically increased over the last few months. The announcement today that the Carphone Warehouse would include broadband free with its Talk Talk landline service will also increase this trend. The package is expected to cost less than £25 a month, the price BT charges for line rental and unlimited calls to landlines without broadband.

Another recent report suggested that young people are now much more likely to get their news from the web than newspapers. They are also spending more time surfing the net than watching television.

It has been claimed that the big growth area is digital video. It seems that young people are very keen to upload their videos to the web. Apparently, the most popular website for uploading your videos is YouTube.

http://www.youtube.com/

It claims that 30m user-created videos are viewed every day. I can understand the desire for people to make videos but I find it difficult to grasp who is watching this stuff. In fact, the browse section allows you to see how many views these videos are getting. In most cases they have no views at all. The only videos that are being viewed are those that feature young women. Sunrise Adams photo shoot has had 564 and a woman running down the street in hot pants has had 488 visitors.

Is this really a communication revolution? The point is that no one is really interested in watching your home movies unless they contain something that normally you would not be able to see. It is clear that people have a great desire to communicate. However, to communicate you need an audience. One of the important skills that teachers will need in the future will be those that enable students to produce videos that other people want to see.

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The impression I get from reading personal blogs and accessing sites where people upload their holiday photos and home videos is that I am looking into a very boring family album or listening to the pub bore who drones on endlessly about his rose garden.

Similarly, I am bored with reality TV: Big Brother, home and garden improvement, buying a wreck of a chateau in France, making a mess of setting up a restaurant, swapping wives, etc. This stuff is cheap to produce: no actors, no scriptwriter, just a film tean and then lots of editing in the studio.

As I have indicated elsewhere in this forum, TV broadcasts (documentaries and films on BBC, ITV, Sky) and the quality press were my lifeline during my stay in hospital - as well as a private telephone for contacting family and friends. I was able to keep myself interested for hours each day, watching TV programmes, reading the quality press and a selection of good books. Most of the younger patients complained perpetually of boredom. I felt sorry for them. They needed to be entertained, while I was able to entertain myself.

Sunrise Adams didn't feature in any of the programmes I watched - could have bust my stiches!

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I agree with Graham. During my surgery last year, I was eager to maintain as much control over my life as possible while I was in hospital. Every day I purchase a copy of the Daily Mail, whose anti-state-education stance I abhor, but whose puzzles, cartoons and "answers to questions" I enjoy each morning before school begins. I looked forward in hospital to the man coming round and selling newspapers so that I could do my daily soduku. It kept my daily routine going, something I value very much as a single person.

Like lots of people of my baby-boom generation, I grew up listening to the "wireless" and the comedy shows were something to look forward to in the 1960s which I recall as being more grim than swinging. One of my favourite presenters was Robert Robinson, particularly in "Stop the Week", which had professional entertainers and journalists doing witty slots about the week's news and everything and anything. Then the series stopped, probably because the BBC thought it was all too stagey and rehearsed, which actually was the best aspect of it, the effort that had gone into the show on behalf of the listeners. The show was replaced by a series where Robert Robinson had conversations with lawyers, accountants etc and where he tried to get them to be funny. They duly obliged - and their pathetic contributions were the unfunniest I've ever heard. It's wrong to believe that members of the public that do other things for a living can automatically be funny at the drop of a hat. Becoming an entertainer requires a long apprenticeship, preferably involving compulsory multiple visits to unappreciative audiences in Glasgow theatres!

David Wilson

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Perhaps the proliferation of 'home movies' on blogs, podcasts, etc is a phase we just have to go through at this stage of the development of the technology. One of the observations I keep making is the way that young teachers generally know which buttons to press, but they don't know why they should press this one rather than that one. Older teachers, once they get over the technological threshold, have far more to bring to the new technology, since they have far more experience of life in general. You probably won't be able to understand much on the TEYC blog:

http://teyc06.blogspot.com/

but the average age of the contributors must be around 45 … and they took to blogging like ducks to water.

The problem is that we're moving into uncharted waters, where the old social relationships and ways of being no longer apply. I'm 51 now and I interact on line with lots of people who don't realise I'm that 'old'. My age and general experience of life, however, makes interaction strangers easier for me than it is for many younger people. Perhaps I've got less to prove … so I don't need to hide behind an artificial persona - I can just be me. It makes it so much easier to function in an artificial 'microworld' (such as Second Life: http://secondlife.com/, see also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Life) because you don't have to invent so much.

I've noticed lots of signs of insecurity in younger people (who were born during the neo-liberal revolution of the early 1980s) from HRT (high-rise terminals in their speech - generally a sign of lack of certainty) to an obsession with recreating rather than creating (how many music and fashion trends do we 'oldies' recognise from the 1960s and 1970s?). Perhaps we have to surfeit first on banality in order for creativity to break through. Are the early 2000s the new 1950s? If so, we've got the 1960s to come … and I experienced those as quite a cool decade!

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As I have indicated elsewhere in this forum, TV broadcasts (documentaries and films on BBC, ITV, Sky) and the quality press were my lifeline during my stay in hospital - as well as a private telephone for contacting family and friends. I was able to keep myself interested for hours each day, watching TV programmes, reading the quality press and a selection of good books. Most of the younger patients complained perpetually of boredom. I felt sorry for them. They needed to be entertained, while I was able to entertain myself.
Perhaps the proliferation of 'home movies' on blogs, podcasts, etc is a phase we just have to go through at this stage of the development of the technology. One of the observations I keep making is the way that young teachers generally know which buttons to press, but they don't know why they should press this one rather than that one. Older teachers, once they get over the technological threshold, have far more to bring to the new technology, since they have far more experience of life in general. You probably won't be able to understand much on the TEYC blog:

http://teyc06.blogspot.com/

but the average age of the contributors must be around 45 … and they took to blogging like ducks to water.

The problem is that we're moving into uncharted waters, where the old social relationships and ways of being no longer apply. I'm 51 now and I interact on line with lots of people who don't realise I'm that 'old'. My age and general experience of life, however, makes interaction strangers easier for me than it is for many younger people. Perhaps I've got less to prove … so I don't need to hide behind an artificial persona - I can just be me. It makes it so much easier to function in an artificial 'microworld' (such as Second Life: http://secondlife.com/, see also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Life) because you don't have to invent so much.

We are clearly going through a communications revolution. However, that does not mean that old forms of communication are no longer important. One of my great pleasures in life is spending between 8 and 9 in the morning reading the Guardian in a hot bath (it is where I will be after finishing this posting).

I also get great pleasure from the telephone. I also like the radio for news and music. Television is great for the news (sometimes you need to see rather than just read or listen), sport and documentaries.

I also make great use of modern technology. I like DVDs for films although I still visit the cinema on a fairly regular basis. I also communicate via my website (I get a far larger readership than when I wrote books). Probably my favourite form of communication is via forums like this. I use this forum to express my views on the world (bit like having your own newspaper). Forums have also become invaluable for my research into the past. This Forum is lucky to have some of the most knowledgeable people in the world on modern American history as members.

My concern is that most young people are not currently making full use of what technology has to offer them. This is where education is important. It is good to know that some of the teachers in the forefront of this communication revolution are members of this Forum.

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David W., David R, John - all good postings. We seem to be on a similar wavelength!

John writes:

My concern is that most young people are not currently making full use of what technology has to offer them. This is where education is important. It is good to know that some of the teachers in the forefront of this communication revolution are members of this Forum.

How true! I use a modern mobile phone that can capture and transmit still images and video. Mostly, however, I use it to TALK to people. I also use text messaging but only to convey and receive information that is important - and it's cheaper for transmissions across international boundaries. I sometimes send pictures of places I am visiting to family and friends.

But most young people seem to indulge in pretty meaningless and unimportant chat on their mobile phones, purely for chat's sake, and they run up horrendous bills. Text messaging is creating bad spelling habits too. I see the shorthand of text messaging creeping into emails and written letters now - which is OK for communication between friends but not between schools and businesses. My business recently received an email from a teacher which read: "maybe u can txt me or me u". I was tempted to write back and ask him to communicate in English!

Back in the early 1980s I recall my daughter coming home from school at around 3.30pm, having walked home with a friend living around 400 yards away. They then used to phone one another and talk for another hour, going over the same ground that they had covered on the way home. Our phone bill soared - it was still peak time - so I had to put a block on the phone.

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