Enough Already: The Analog Truth About Digital Feb05

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Enough Already: The Analog Truth About Digital


a blogumn by Jordan Weeks

The imminent switch of all television broadcasts from analog and digital signals to digital-only signals has less to do with “more available bandwidth” and “better quality” (which, unless maybe you’re dropping five or six grand on a serious goddammm set is a complete fairytale…and even then the shit doesn’t look quite right…) and a lot more to do with corporate control and monitoring of what viewers watch. [There’s no supposing or guessing about this; it’s just fact at this point.] Yes, the ol’ U.S.A. is about to become a test-market of several hundred million Nielsen families, whether you like it or not. And, no, this time nobody’s getting paid to share his or her viewing choices. Oh, also, cable and media companies will be able to regulate what you can and cannot record on a TiVO or other DVR device…all kindsa’ fun stuff ahead.

analogtvsI know what you’re wondering: Is there any significance to the fact that the “switchover” (like it’s no big deal – just someone flicking a switch at Comcast or Warner…) is government-mandated, that the United States government is MANDATING the complete eradication of analog television broadcasting? Nah; probably not, right? I mean – they just want everyone to have the greatest, clearest doggone television picture possible…because they ALWAYS want people to have great stuff and they always want to help everybody, especially in a material sense. They ALWAYS do that shit. And for absolutely no benefit to them. Yep. Our elected leaders are nothing if not reliably generous and altruistic, and always promoting the very best, cutting-edge technology. Yep. That’s our Uncle Sam. Just be careful not to take the last piece of candy from the dish in his living-room…or to sit on his lap. Actually, you probably shouldn’t look at him – at least not directly. In fact, it’s probably better if you don’t TALK to Uncle Sam. Just…know he’s there and…be afraid of him.

President Barack Obama has made some kind of motion to push-back the mandatory analog-to-digital switch from February 17 to some time in June, I believe, and, as one of my friends recently wondered, “Who GIVES a fuck?!”

“Who GIVES a fuck?!” indeed. Pretty much everyone I know is goddammm HORRIFIED about the nature of this mandated switchover. The point my friend was making here was not one of complacency, but rather one of disgust, at the notion that the switchover is happening AT ALL.

Obama should not be pushing the switchover back; he should be STOPPING it. It’s well within his reach as president to put the kaibash [SP!?!] on such bureaucratic Big Brother-ing nonsense, and the fact that he’s not calling “bullshit” on this is pretty fuckkking concerning. It means he’s either cool with it, which is a really bad sign, or that he doesn’t really know what’s up, why the switch is happening – which, at the very least, is to give advertisers and programming executives a direct fucking I.V. line to your exact viewing habits, your likes and dislikes, and for what you are and are not a sucker, marketing-wise – and that’s certainly no MORE comforting.

You see, there’s SO much bandwidth available with a digital signal that in addition to information being delivered TO your cable-box, information regarding whatever you’re watching at a given moment can be run OUT of your cable box, to, oh, let’s say an office somewhere where somebody, or more likely some kind of program, would be able to keep track of everything you’re watching, in fact, of everything you’ve watched, and to predict what you will watch in the future. You know – like the buying-suggestions on Amazon, and the History function on your computer [on which you’re SURE you’ve deleted all those porn-site addresses…right?].

But, come on – nobody’s actually DOING that, right? I mean, that’d be some pretty sinister, misanthropic shit, and there’s no WAY that’s happening in this country. And there’s CERTAINLY no way our government would let that kinda’ shit happen. I mean – telephone line-tapping is for our own GOOD; we KNOW that. And if a completely innocent, private, U.S.-born citizen says something on his own phone-line like, “Al Quaeda”, for whatever reason, and someone listening to a tap on that line reads that as “chatter”, and that person winds-up in Gitmo, or in that new fun place in Saudi Arabia, then it just means that we’re that much safer. Right? I mean – one life isn’t worth shit, is it?, as long as the collective “we” are safe.

By the way – does it feel like the collective “we” might be getting smaller with each passing hour? Or is it getting bigger? I don’t know. Maybe it’s all just a fog of love created by Obama’s election that’ll clear as soon as the sun comes up. “Tomorrow, tomorrow…” (“…tomorrow…”)

Good luck, everybody.



flickr.com photo credit: the shamptonian institute