If not for the internet then no one would be seeing any of my pictures or reading my humble opinion. Thanks to this futuristic technology I can even know how many people are reading this opinion! All I have to say about this is, the net isn't as cool as jetpacks and given a choice, I think I would have preferred to be flying around right now as opposed to typing. Even so, I'm a long time net user. I was logging in on telnet (most of you kids probably do not even know what that is) as far back as the eighties and, back then, if you wanted a home net account they charged you by the minute. Data transfer was even more expensive than long distance phone calls, something else that the kids in my audience probably don't remember.
At the risk of sounding like an old fart here, I miss the old days! Yeah I know, back in my day we had to walk all the way across the room to change the channel on the TV, and it was up hill! In both directions! And we didn't have no shoes! And it was snowing! I have to comfort myself with the fact that while this may have been true, at least there were only three or four channels to change back when my parents used me as the remote control. Something else that seemed just as comforting was that, no matter which of those channels we watched, the next day it was a sure bet that most everyone I knew had also watched it. It was a shared experience that shaped those of us in my age range. It gave us a collective experience, that I have found, has kept right on shaping us even as we all get near retirement. Of course, then came cable and instead of three channels, of mostly crappy programing, we got thirty channels of mostly crappy programing.
Cable only got bigger of course. They kept expanding the number channels but, not the amount of programing. You also got locked into monopolies that could charge whatever they wanted and were guaranteed this status by the nature of the technology itself. Then came the net. I miss the old days of the internet more than I do of television. TV was already heavily controlled, regulated, and monopolized when I was born. The internet used to be like the wild west. It was literally a new frontier and those of us on it were a small minority. We lived with insults from the larger world due to misconceptions about what the net was. Little did all those people know how much they would have to use it in the years to come. I think I would rather still live with the insults because once everybody got on the net, the money followed, and the regulations came soon thereafter. It also changed everything else and that includes television!
Dish Network has recently dropped the granddaddy of Cable News, CNN. Dish also dropped several smaller channels that fell under the Turner Networks umbrella, including The Cartoon Network, Turner Classic Movies, and a few others. On December 5th, if Turner and Dish do not reach an agreement, TBS and TNT, the networks two flagship channels, will also get dropped. The CEO of Dish has called the loss of CNN a "non event." Apparently nobody even noticed and very few have complained. Why is this happening? How can the big and mighty CNN, a network that world leaders once used to pass sticky notes to each other, get canned without even a whimper? Welcome to the new world where the eight hundred pound gorilla is no longer the boob tube. It is now the technology that TV anchors used to spin as a tool of child molesters, the internet.
This goes well beyond where people are now primarily getting their news, ie the net. It is true that this is playing it's part but, the technology of video, audio, and computing power has been slowly merging. I have to admit that it has emerged into something that I did not quite expect. The cell phone has now replaced the traditional land line, the television, audio media, and the computer. It has also caused media giants to go on another spree of shifting their business strategies to survive. Hence we have the dispute between Dish and Turner (aka Time Warner). This fight is also not unique as Dish has had similar disputes with Viacom and the parent company of channels like AMC. Other package providers have also had their squabbles with the service providers. What disturbs me the most is where this heading.
Just like with the recent Net Neutrality battles, slowly the middle men (ie Internet Service Providers and Cable Companies) are now structuring the entire electronic medium so that they can make money and stay in business. The day is coming when what shows you can watch, what websites you can reach, and even what music you can download will depend on who your ISP or Cable company is. You will no longer be able access everything. It is almost like we are coming full circle and returning to the day when there were only a few channels to watch. The only difference is that, back then, you were limited because the technology was. Now you will be limited because the technology is not and the big guys can cut you off just because it is hurting their pocket book.