Every now and then you have a chance encounter or conversation with a random person which proves interesting or memorable in some fashion. The other day I happened to stumble upon an email address belonging to a gentlemen from the year 2062.
So of course I emailed him. How did I do that? Oh, who knows where the internet goes. Anyway, his name is also Matt. Not me, of course (oh no, of course not). For clarity, we’ll refer to him as Matt2062. Below is some of that email exchange.
Me: Tell me about TVs in the future. What are those like?
Matt2062: Well, TVs and what you would refer to as ‘monitors’ are the same thing and we just call them ‘flats’. Thinner than your finger (except for the port dock on the side/bottom), most hang on walls or lay at angles on desks or workspaces. The portable flats roll up and are carried in thermoses - well, theyre not really thermoses, but shoulder-slung aluminum or acrylic cylinders that resemble thermoses. The icy thing about flats right now is RTT (“Rise-To-Touch”) technology. Basically, the most annoying thing about flats is using the onscreen keyboard. Its hard to do any real keyboard-intensive work with it because theres no tactile response when typing, so your attention is drawn to what you type as opposed to an external keyboard where your fingers just know where to go. Also, if youre blind, you just cant use the onscreen keyboards at all. But RTT pretty much fixes that. I dont know exactly how it works on the technical side but basically, the outermost layer of the flat is like a very durable transparent elastic. When you activate the RTT keyboard in the corner of the flat (or set a verbal command to do so), that outer layer subtly pulls in outside air from around the flat under itself and shifts that air around in order to raise the surface to provide a more tactile area when typing. Its really cool to see when you look at it sideways; like watching a keyboard rise out of water. I saw an RTT flat the other day at the store and tried it out. Its a weird feeling but nice. Its like … almost like bubble wrap but smaller and more firm. When you press it, a bit of the air is momentarily shifted away and then back to mimic pressing a key on a keyboard. The next generation is even supposed to make the depression level of that response a user preference. Im sure it will be quite a while before I can afford one of those, tho.
Me: That sounds really cool. That’s interesting about the merging of TVs and monitors, too. Makes sense given the state of things currently. So if they’re the same thing in your time, do you still have one for TV and one for computer work / online activities?
Matt2062: Its pretty typical to have more than one in a home but really just so different people can use them at the same time, or because one size is more conducive for certain uses than others. Im familiar with how TV used to work for you and it doesnt work that way now. All episodic content is delivered online over the net. Your broadcast channels and cable TV channels dont exist anymore. We still have “channels” but its more just a corporate or topical grouping of deliverable content rather than something you tune in to watch. In fact, much of the airwaves which you currently use to broadcast your television signals are now used by cell phones and wireless devices.
Me: So, TV doesn’t broadcast anymore? No more tuning into a show at a certain time, or recording it to watch later?
Matt2062: No. Well, shows do have days and times of the week or month when new episodes come out (many of the corporate channels release new episodes on Wednesday mornings), but once the show is out, you can watch it anytime. And most people I know have their content software just download new episodes and sync them up to their devices automatically anyway. Me: Oh, like podcasts. Nice. When does that start happening? I mean the total conversion from broadcast television to online delivery?
Matt2062: Well alot of it is happening in your time now; preparation for it anyway. Even in your time, alot of the broadcasting companies are shifting their content online to seek new demographics. But I think the trigger for corporations to make that final switch were the episodic communities that started growing in 2014. With digital production costs steadily lowering, alot of online communities started hosting their own series of shows like we have now. And some of them were actually decent enough (Ive seen a few from that time) to compete with the popular television shows. A few of the smaller broadcasting companies saw it as a new market and started to mimic the idea, producing several full-length webisode series (of varying quality and with relatively unknown or completely unknown actors) which were only available online. Within a couple years, the market had proven itself and a few of those smaller companies left the television broadcast world altogether. Soon after, the bigger corporations started to follow suit, stepping foot into the online broadcast paradigm, but also providing community spaces to try to draw that independent demographic back in, which was for the most part, successful. Many of those larger corporations became more profitable over time due to the huge cost savings of producing and delivering content online versus the older paradigm. By 2021, pretty much all ‘television’ type content was on the net and either watched on devices or streamed to TVs via various content delivery systems.
Me: So it was the netizens that pulled the content completely online over time? Like a big tug of war with TV and the internet won. Good job, internet. Um, what about commercials? I hate commercials. Do you still have those?
Matt2062: Haha, yes. I would say probably not as many outright commercial advertisements in the way that you know them, but theres easily more product showcasing than in your time. For example, theres one show that revolves around a group of orphaned teens that pretty much do nothing but use products from this one particular, very large corporation. I dont watch it but alot of people my age do. Theres a lot of political aspects to the show that I dont care for, but anyway, thats a good example. Also, alot of the ads between shows now (if you watch them online as opposed to downloading them and watching them later) arent static content. Theyre often third party apps which are meant to be interactive. The general incentive for interacting with them are shorter ads or prizes. Like for example, I will probably never forget the phrase “CRAAAVE IT” because one of the Craaave commercials allows you to type in that phrase to end the ad sooner, otherwise its normal length. I can still hear the crunching sound made with each letter you type. I read the other day about some new type of ad technology that uses the flatcam to identify personal characteristics of the viewers like gender, race, hairstyle, etc to tailor the ad for that particular demographic. I cant see why anyone would subject their flatcam to that, but Im sure theyll build an incentive to do so.
Me: Ok that last part sounds creepy. I definitely couldn’t see subjecting myself to that kind of advertisement.
Matt2062: Yeah, especially since a couple different branches of the government have already mentioned storing the flatcam data for use in conjunction with criminal databases.
Me: Wow, just wow.
There was a bit more before and after the text here, but this is the majority of the conversation. Hope you found it enjoyable. Also, his twitter account is: matt2062.