Media Musings & Meditations

Observations and discussion about technology, culture and spirituality. As new technology developments and trends envelope the Internet and our "wired" culture we all need time to reflect and process the implications on our society, our relationships and our spiritual practices.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

When TV "Got Real"

I, for one, have grown tired of watching TV "dramas" written by Hollywood elite screenwriters. So often they write storylines about characters, situations and feelings that I can't relate to. ("I was married to a Mafia Don." "The soap-opera lives of spoiled rich teenagers in LA." Etc.) And when they finally do create some kind of detective show or suspense drama that seems interesting the stories lack originality. Typically, Julie and I will be watching a show and she'll say, "I bet that character will do x and then event y will take place, etc." And sure enough Julie has prophesied (or rather detected) the entire storyline. Can anyone say "formula" or "cliché.")? And then, in the midst of one of these tried-and-true story templates, the writers will inject a political message or "PC" sermon. Oh sure I'm going to change my political philosophy because of what some beat cop tells his buddy or I'll change my core values after hearing what the SciFi alien says about humans. The worst part is the writers can't even skillfully weave the message into the story anymore. Most of these non-sequitor diatribes can be seen a mile away. When the juxtaposed message is finally delivered it is followed by an awkward pause in the action. (For us to take notes?! Or what?)

That's why I have come to embrace Reality TV. Okay, so maybe the situations and scenarios aren't real at all -- but at least it is real people reacting in real ways. It's not some detached actor attempting to act like a normal working man. It a working man, warts and all. If the guy is a jerk, he convincingly acts like a jerk. I fully realize that most successful reality shows have a storyline, if not a script, and that the editors pick and choose clips to carefully create suspense, conflict and resolution, but at least those clips are real. And when we watch real people exercising their beliefs and stating their observations we take away more life messages than any Hollywood homily.

My favorite reality TV show is The Apprentice. Apart from all of The Donald's posturing and the overly materialistic view of the world, we still learn basic truths about work, struggles, goals, success and failure. Sadly, (talk about reality) there are a lot of people on company payrolls right now that resemble some of the clowns that are eliminated on the show. In the midst of the "drama" of The Apprentice people with good hearts, motives, and work ethics ultimately rise to the top. To me that is a happy ending and a fresh message from TV.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Google the New Evil Empire?

I'm sorry to say it's my second posting and already I am ranting. I am excited to have joined the Blog world but I have had a potential epiphany. Google could become the new Evil Empire. Let me explain.

As a professor, I work in a department that is dominated by Mac computers. I also teach many students who are Mac zealots and who have sworn allegiance to open source software as the last hope against the Darth Vader (aka Bill Gates) and the Evil Monopoly Empire affectionately known as "Microsoft." I confess that I have worked in harmony with Microsoft products over the years and don't have the same fanaticism as many of my colleagues and students. On the other hand, I also like open source software and I look forward to healthy competition that can humble giants like Microsoft (and bring down prices ;) ). My complaint against Microsoft is more that it is so proprietary, not willing to play well with other programs and platforms.

I thought this Internet age was all about "Interoperability" -- that we could get all computers to communicate using the universal language of hypertext & browser (like the music note scene out of Close Encounters of the Third Kind). And it seemed Microsoft was the only one who didn't get it. So I watched as Internet companies like Google began to emerge from the protoplasmic mire we call the WWW and assert itself as a new web-facing company. As Google grew and fed upon smaller companies (like Blogger, incidentally), I had no concerns. After all, this is a new and smarter "web" company; they know about interoperability. Perhaps, some like me thought that companies like Google might sufficiently penetrate the web and the computer industry enough to give Microsoft some real competition -- at least in some aspects of the empire.

But I began to see marks of the dark side in Google. My unassuming Search friend began to make some very big "corporate-type" moves. While cool features such as Gmail and Google Map came to the scene, there was also the indication that Luke (aka Google) might be tipping to the "less-light side." For example, Google Map does not work on Macs. I asked some company reps at a convention when the Mac version was coming out. "It's not." They said with all the dark apathy of Count Dooku. "Oh, ok." I said, "Well, how about the future, do they have any long-term projections when it will come out? " "No, there are no plans for a Mac version at this time."

Now, even as I work to create this Blog, I learn that the photo features embedded in the program are "Windows only" 3rd party vendors. Nooooooo! So despite the fact that I can add my paltry rant from a Mac I am denied full-citizenship in the Google Empire.

BTW- My connection to Blogger suddenly became disconnected during the writing of this posting… coincidence?

Stay tuned for the next Rebel alliance meeting! :).