Unimagined realities

by Adel Ahmed

008A vicious war is raging at the western front. Mortar shells are screaming through the air and peppering the distant horizon with death and destruction. In the far off vista, doll like figures are crawling under the barbwire, in the mud and filth as death rains down from the heaven above. The sky over head is steely gray and downcast and seems to be weeping at mankind’s folly. In the middle of this mayhem and gore, the phone suddenly rings, the movie automatically stops and the caller’s ID appears on the screen.
This then has become our digital reality. Consumption of media is no longer bound by the traditional tv. Today we have multiple devices, such as desktop, laptop, tablets, phones, etc. which all supports multimedia and are internet enabled. These devices are forever entwined in our daily lives and take up a big portion of our lives.
The amount of time spent on mobile devices has increased 20 per cent since 2010 whereas digital video viewing has doubled from 13 minutes a day in 2012 to 27 minutes today whereas Mobile video consumption is 44 per cent higher in smartphone with screens larger than 44 per cent as compared to smaller smartphones.
Convenience is one of the key reasons behind the rise of mobile devices. It has simplified our lives and connected us to the world. Everything is easier now and more accessible than before. The little viewing box called the TV has jumped right out of our living room and into our palms and with that contents have become more ubiquitous and readily available.
009Even half a decade back, TV was still the king and people were stuck to it because of the programme schedules. If someone wanted to catch a TV show, he/she had to make time or miss the show. In a sense the TV ruled our lives and our precious time. The TV broadcasters decided what we would watch, when we would watch and how we would watch. But that all changed with the evolution in technology and digitalisation. We now have the power to decide what to watch, when to watch, how to watch and how long to watch.
Gone are the days when we would have to wait an entire week to watch MacGyver or A-Team, now if we want we can watch the entire season in one sitting, in just a few hours, with the tap of a button.
With the inevitable and rampant digitalisation of our lives, streaming services have also shifted into the digital sphere to cater to our needs and tastes. As the number of services increases, along with the number of ways we can access them, the future of TV becomes ever more muddled and confusing.
Today there are a number of online services both paid and free that are vying with one another for domination. Some of the well-known services are You Tube, Yahoo Video, Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime, Netflix, Sling Television to name a few.
People can use these services not only to see the current shows but can also access archived materials from years before and enjoy them at their leisure time. These new and digital services are getting so popular that they are now coming up with their original shows. Some of the popular Netflix original shows are The Fall, House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, Bloodline, Daredevil, etc.
Not only are these services coming up with their own original shows but some of the regular television shows are now officially streamed online and some of them are shifting entirely from TV and being streamed exclusively on the digital streaming services.
Digitalisation and the availability of these services are changing our viewing habits and allowing us to more than just watch the shows. Previously we would just watch the movies and shows passively but now we have the ability to interact by liking, commenting, reviewing and sharing the content online.
Not only can we just watch and comment but we also have the ability to create our content and share them with the rest of the world through services such as You Tube and Vine. This is a far cry from the days when we could watch shows for a few hours on the television. Today we each have the potential to become a producer or a director and create our own visions.
The evolution of television is far from over and its changing at such a rapid rate that it would be a wonder if anyone remembers the little square box called television a hundred years from now.
No one knows what the future holds, maybe in not so distant a future we will have ‘Star Trek’-like holographic technology in which we can immerse ourselves and actually interact with the characters and environment. Or maybe we can upload ourselves like in the movie ‘Transcendence’ and have infinite ability of the World Wide Web.
These are all some tantalising possibilities and it will not be too much of a surprise if fiction in turn crosses over and starts breathing and living in reality.
So today we could be streaming ‘Fury’ on our phone as we are on the go and someone calls right when the action is heating up and we have to pause to receive the call.
Tomorrow we could be immersed right into the movie and fighting behind the enemy line, with nothing but a sten gun, trying to strike at the heart of the enemy and exploring a reality never imagined before.

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