Nothing happens today at the stroke of midnight that will markedly show the difference between 2013 and 2014, but imagine if the world just kept going without some indication of forward motion and backward emotion.
We need that damn ball drop at Times Square.
It’s almost impossible to imagine a time without a defined “past,” though we augment the calendar with other identities. This, we think, is called the Digital Age among other names for it. Who knows what it will be called years from now?
That’s another reason we have years. Ten years from now, you’ll say, “How stupid we were in 2013” and we might laugh about our iPad the way I do about my old Sony Watchman (though, truth told, I sure wish it still worked).
This is a mighty crude way to mark the time, but watch the local TV news and note how many crime stories now come equipped with video of the crime itself. Video surveillance is a feature of almost every crime drama on TV. Many intersections in large cities are hooked up to video cameras. Most cop cars are. In short, the Snowden Revelations just verify what we already know. We’ve noticed those ads following us around online. The NSA is only there to help. So are cookies.
And so it goes.
At the Consumer Electronics Show, carmakers will be hinting at cars that drive themselves. A story about what the auto sector will be doing at CES reports:
“Automotive supplier Visteon's exhibit is set to include futuristic dashboard displays relying on LCDs and projection technology, and even a concept cockpit that responds to the driver's gaze and head movements. On the connected-car front, Visteon will show off a new project it says includes autonomous driving features. Enticingly, Visteon teases that a major European automaker is involved with the project.”
Tell me, in 2000, wouldn’t that have been a bigger story? In 2014, that is the last paragraph of a CNET roundup, not the lead. It's relegated to the so-on and so-forth of modern technology, because, after all who among us hasn’t at least played around with a computer that can detect eye movement? It’s no big deal, though of course, it’s friggin’ mind-blowing.
By more ordinary measures, there were other interesting movement. In 2013, a Netflix drama got real live Emmy nominations and some advertisers, networks and ratings companies began folding online data into their calculations.
And consider this, from comScore: In November alone, 189.2 million Americans watched 47.1 billion online videos, and 26.8 billion video ads. That’s 7 billion more videos than last November and more than twice as many video ads (just 10.5 billion in November 2012). Just imagine if the business ever satisfactorily proves how many people actually saw them.
Those are ridiculous numbers, and you know what? The whole world is generally unaware of it happening.
If you’ve never read Marshall McLuhan’s “The Medium Is the Massage,” put it on your to-do list in 2014. I’m always struck by a graphic at the very start, quoting the mathematician and philosopher, A.N. Whitehead: “The major advances in civilization are processes that all but wreck the societies in which they occur.” About which McLuhan exclaimed, also in a graphical flourish, “And how!”
I guess that could be a question, too. And how?
See you in 2014. Thank you for coming here..