Kicking television, sort of

   

Barry Parr Posted by Barry Parr

2008 was a watershed year in my media habits.

In video, things came to a head when Comcast mistakenly cancelled by cable television service, instead of merely canceling my "high speed" (sic) Internet service. This echoed the scene six months earlier when, after weeks of trying to get someone to install Internet service, a Comcast guy showed up on my doorstep declared, "I'm here to disconnect your Internet service."

We no longer have cable television and in Montara we're beyond the reach of broadcast television.

My family discovered we don't need regular TV any more. Between Netflix DVD's and instant play for movies and HBO series; iTunes for Madmen and The Office; Hulu for John Stewart, Steven Colbert, and 30 Rock; MSNBC for streaming coverage of election night; YouTube for kittens and poisonous snakes; our own DVD's for kids' movies and The Simpsons; and the blogs for news highlights -- we have more video on tap than we can possibly watch. Meanwhile, we're more thoughtful about what we watch. And we still don't have a Tivo, Roku, AppleTV, MediaCenter PC, or any other box on top of our TV.

I stopped listening to commercial radio a while ago, but missed the sense of discovering new music. In 2008, just as I was beginning to get bored of putting my music collection on shuffle, I found a host of new ways to get music. Streaming music from iTunes to my living room stereo was never appealing until Apple release its iPhone Remote software. Now it's indispensible. I've been relying heavily on listening to KCRW and KKJZ, both of of them 400 miles away in LA, via iTunes. And now I can stream them over the cellular network to my iPhone with any of several radio applications. I've discovered more new music this year than in the last five thanks to Pandora (and KCRW) on my desktop and on my iPhone. Between that and Apple's new Genius playlists I don't have any time to listen to all those podcasts I've downloaded, except for Le Show and Ted Talks video.

The best part is that none of this is revolutionary. It has been coming for a long time. And now it's part of everyday life for millions of consumers. Happy new year!