In which a group of graying eternal amateurs discuss their passions, interests and obsessions, among them: movies, art, politics, evolutionary biology, taxes, writing, computers, these kids these days, and lousy educations.

E-Mail Donald
Demographer, recovering sociologist, and arts buff

E-Mail Fenster
College administrator and arts buff

E-Mail Francis
Architectural historian and arts buff

E-Mail Friedrich
Entrepreneur and arts buff
E-Mail Michael
Media flunky and arts buff

We assume it's OK to quote emailers by name.

Try Advanced Search

  1. Seattle Squeeze: New Urban Living
  2. Checking In
  3. Ben Aronson's Representational Abstractions
  4. Rock is ... Forever?
  5. We Need the Arts: A Sob Story
  6. Form Following (Commercial) Function
  7. Two Humorous Items from the Financial Crisis
  8. Ken Auster of the Kute Kaptions
  9. What Might Representational Painters Paint?
  10. In The Times ...

Sasha Castel
AC Douglas
Out of Lascaux
The Ambler
Modern Art Notes
Cranky Professor
Mike Snider on Poetry
Silliman on Poetry
Felix Salmon
Polly Frost
Polly and Ray's Forum
Stumbling Tongue
Brian's Culture Blog
Banana Oil
Scourge of Modernism
Visible Darkness
Thomas Hobbs
Blog Lodge
Leibman Theory
Goliard Dream
Third Level Digression
Here Inside
My Stupid Dog
W.J. Duquette

Politics, Education, and Economics Blogs
Andrew Sullivan
The Corner at National Review
Steve Sailer
Joanne Jacobs
Natalie Solent
A Libertarian Parent in the Countryside
Rational Parenting
Colby Cosh
View from the Right
Pejman Pundit
God of the Machine
One Good Turn
Liberty Log
Daily Pundit
Catallaxy Files
Greatest Jeneration
Glenn Frazier
Jane Galt
Jim Miller
Limbic Nutrition
Innocents Abroad
Chicago Boyz
James Lileks
Cybrarian at Large
Hello Bloggy!
Setting the World to Rights
Travelling Shoes

Redwood Dragon
The Invisible Hand
Daze Reader
Lynn Sislo
The Fat Guy
Jon Walz


Our Last 50 Referrers

« An Episode of Subway Panhandling that I Wouldn't Find Annoying | Main | On the Road: Projections »

December 23, 2006

Screens Everywhere (Cont.)

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

In a posting not long ago, Donald bemoaned the way that TVs are becoming more and more common in public places. I'm 150% with Donald on this point. It isn't just that TV screens (and bad music and bad radio) are well-nigh impossible to avoid at many bus stations and airports these days. In New York City, where I live, it's even worse: TVs are beginning to appear in elevators and on sidewalks. Are some people so terrified of boredom that they need distraction via CNN while on the elevator?

And out on the streets ... Where once you'd see a poster (over the entry to a subway, for instance), that space is now sometimes taken by a flickering video screen beaming advertisements. Is this fair? After all, there's little that can more perfectly exploit our innate tendency to look around in alarm than a flickering, beaming light.

Now comes the sad news that TVs will soon be installed in New York City taxicabs.

To my mind, the whole thing raises a variety of interesting econ / poli-sci questions about choice and freedom. To riff on one such: Although I'm grateful that that the option to turn the cab-TVs off will be available, cab riders won't be able to avoid encountering cab-TVs in the first place. The creation of one chioce-set (TV on or off) will completely eliminate another choice-possibility (avoiding TV entirely). How do econ textbooks cover this very common development?

Small prediction: However free we'll be to interact with the new cab-TVs, one choice that won't be available will be the one I'd most prefer -- to pull the damn thing out by its wiring, dump it out the cab's window, and enjoy watching it shatter into smithereens.

Here's a fascinating bit of info from the article I linked to: An earlier experiment with TVs in NYC cabs didn't go well. Taxi Commission polling revealed that most people were either indifferent to or downright hostile to the presence of TVs in cabs. Yet the upshot is that we're going to have TVs in cabs. Is the New York City Taxi Commission now in bed with the TV industry?



posted by Michael at December 23, 2006


As people avoid television and television advertising, the advertising industry is turning more to blasting people in captive situations--the grocery line, elevators, cabs, etc. Its not TV--any entertainment is to try to get you to watch long enough to view a commerical, just like TV.

The only way to avoid the onslaught is to privatize transport--your own car. Or to have your groceries delivered, or shop online. Public spaces are being made into 3-D magazines full of ads. It just drives people out of them.

Posted by: BIOH on December 23, 2006 2:15 AM

TV screens are also all over the workplace.

The ad agencies and design shops are littered with TVs, tuned primarily to CNN, but sometimes alternating between entertainment shows and websites. Almost always, when I walk into the welcome room of an agency, a big screen flat TV adorns the wall.

Even the pharmaceutical company that I work for posts flat screen TVs in the cafeteria and the lobbies. The programming is a mix of company produced propaganda, news headlines on a runner across the bottom of the screen and, sometimes, commercial TV. We have a separate lunch room featuring flat screens that offer broadcast TV, for those who want to ignore their co-workers.

I interviewed for the job of developing the interface for the cabs. Another one of those places where they thought I was too old to be hip.

The Karaoke Queen and I watched an Illinois basketball game at Blondie's on 79th St. last Tuesday. I'd say that the room featured at least 15 flat screens and one projection screen, all tuned to the same game.

We are never unplugged, not for a moment. And, Michael, you've got to see the irony of running your own little entertainment website, and complaining about the proliferation of screens. One day, every man, woman and child will be an independent media station.

Posted by: Shouting Thomas on December 23, 2006 9:29 AM

Should we expect a flood of law suits from epileptics who have fits triggered by the flickering screens?

Posted by: dearieme on December 23, 2006 10:33 AM

How bereft of personality resources do you have to be to walk around with iPod earbuds yammering at you all day long?

You'll get no major complaints as the public space is transitioned to a 24/7 logosphere, as most people find it will distract them from the frightening void within.

Posted by: Don McArthur on December 23, 2006 11:07 AM

Post a comment

Email Address:



Remember your info?