Perhaps not even 20. Minutes before this blog's typesetting began I was in the balcony enjoying a silent smoke. The thought of my own specialization- Journalism- entered my mind, and I began to wonder.
My previous internship with the Times of India, in Pune, had given me a bit of insight into the Print Industry- not much, I'll be modest- but still, enough for me to get odd thoughts from time to time.
Let's face it- video killed the radio star- and what has the radio been reduced to?
"Radio Mirchi, 93.5 fm, it's hot!" or "94.3 Radio One... fully fun!". Forgive me for remaining behind the times if the taglines do not match what comes along now. I have a tendency to remain blissfully unaware of these matters, my undoing.
Back on track; Television has increased its reach drastically in the last decade. From an elite luxury to the commoner's window, you'll find TV everywhere- and with it, enough journalism anyhow, sensationalist or otherwise. Not only are they instantaneous and omnipotent, but today's generation has grown increasingly reliant on them to stay on top of current affairs, infotainment be damned.
With newspapers taking time off to "sleep" as Diniar B. Patel put it rather eloquently, while the papers can offer a comprehensive take on the situation, so can the afternoon debate.
Add to that the emerging Internet, webcasting, streaming, the e-paper... the internet may not be utterly ubiquitous, but it certainly has penetrated. Downloading left to the sidelines, I will, before Facebook-ing, check up Tehelka, BBC, PTI, Reuters, and an n number of sites to get my fix. The dailies I order remain stacked in a pile, the only ones kept aside are the Sunday editions which I can peruse at my leisure.
In 20 years from now, what is the future of the Printed Word?
Let me go off-track here. In 20 years- no, perhaps even as soon as five- laptops will become obsolete. Palmtops and Tablet PCs will be the norm, and internet connectivity has already been reduced to my rattletrap mobile phone which supplies a 16 kbps connection when all else fails. And this is now. I can access the internet on my laptop using my mobile phone as a bluetooth modem. We tend to take this fact for granted, while it is a tech achievement. The 3G spectrum is not just around the corner, but already in our laps, waiting for the kiss of progress, and once that materializes, the possibilities would be endless.
And five years from now... 3.5G? 4G?
Think about it. My own batchmates wander around with their tablets and styluses, so used to the technology that their parents wonder... "wtf are we getting our children?"
We won't wonder about that when we get our children a tablet PC when they get into a college, when they begin their grad courses, which could be anywhere in the next couple of decades. That already reflects our changing mindsets. Sooner or later, the larger population that enjoys a morning coffee and a newspaper- our parents- will be gone, and that'll leave a generation that'll enjoy the morning coffee in bed with a tablet and the TOI website.
My concept of the future- Print Media not giving way to TV, but utilizing the internet instead. It's already happening, all the world needs is faster and easily accessible internet connections. The Printed word becomes the Pixellated word, and perhaps a decade or less from now, I'll be sitting in bed without a mass of wires connected to my palmtop, writing a blog and reminiscing about old times when I'd done an internship and my editor had MCD'd me.
That is a mid-life crisis after all.
The future is not exactly ahead, but already at our door, knocking. Waiting. I cannot speak for my compatriots of today, but with whatever capital I manage to amass in the foreseeable future, it will go for a tablet PC, and I will enjoy the e-paper in bed. My own mindset could reflect my generation's way of thought- after all, we did leave our VHS and beta tapes in the museums, our record players in the basement, and discarded our cassette and CD players a long enough time ago that a guy whose blog I follow makes a hobby of finding VHS covers, and another downloads movie OSTs as well as music albums and has a blog where he puts up their scanned CD covers.
One day someone will start blogging about laptops, and someone my age at that time will follow that blog, where he'll probably stare at the image of a cordless Bluetooth mouse and wonder... "wtf did they do with all that hardware?"
Or else it'll go like Ghost in the Shell or Johnny Mnemonic where we'll wander around with cyber-brains constantly connected to the Net or 180 GB of memory waiting for a "Pemex Doubler" (sorry, Johnny).
The future could be anything. Are we ready for it? Depends. My new 2010 laptop, although not top-of-the-line but good enough to run 2010 high-quality games like Street Fighter or Section 8, doesn't run a classic like Mario or Contra. Why?
"Windows 7 needs DOSbox to execute." Or some shit like that.
See: people may fear what they don't understand, but they'll toss away what they don't need. Getting someone to repair my Sound System my family bought nearly a decade ago is proving difficult. I could persuade my parents to get a new one, but then, one with the same power and configuration hardly seems to play tapes.
When all of this is happening so fast and so furiously, one day the Library of Congress, supposedly the largest Library in the world, will be accessible to a touch of my finger, and it'll be projected straight into my mind. Books will become collector's editions, which may/may not fade away in time. People who appreciate the feel of paper, its crispness, will fade away as well.
On that note, I will end with Alexander Pope's famous quote that my father often tosses at me when I have to help her handle the internet-
"We think our fathers fools,
So wise we grow:
Our wiser sons
Will no doubt think us so."