It’s the second day of Techland’s Festivus-inspired Airing of Grievances, in which Doug, Jared, Keith, Matt and myself share those things that have upset and irritated us throughout the year. Doug got things rolling with his gripes yesterday, and now it’s my turn to share those things that have made the last 12 months more annoying than they should’ve been.
The Lack of a True Wired World
This is potentially an odd one. While I am, in almost all respects, against the idea of the Internet as entertainment singularity with everything always available at once to everyone (mostly because I think it potentially devalues culture, but this really isn’t the place to get into that–maybe in the new year?), I nonetheless am frustrated at the fact that international television isn’t more easily available, legally, online. We were, at one point, expecting the BBC Global iPlayer to launch in 2011, and I was eagerly looking forward to it–finally, I thought, I’ll be able to watch all of the British TV shows that BBC America and PBS doesn’t bring over! Except, of course, that never happened (note to whomever is in charge of that project: Please make it happen in 2012! Pretty please?).
The Internet is filled with various paid and legal outlets in which television is available to the end user, whether it’s Netflix, Hulu, iTunes or whatever your particular favorite is, and yet broadcasters from around the world aren’t taking advantage of this in order to increase both the audience and moneymaking potential for their libraries of programming doesn’t make sense to me. Yes, I know that there are inevitably rights deals with American broadcasters and outlets already in place that keep some shows unavailable, but that’s clearly not the case for everything–so why can’t we have a BBC deal with Netflix, or Canal+ page in iTunes (and so on)? The Internet makes content global and immediate–that we’ve made it to the end of 2011 without broadcasters and distributors having realized that and moved to adapt and accelerate their releases in order to reflect that is a massive missed opportunity, and something that verges on the ridiculous.
And, no, I’m not just saying that because I’d like a legal way to watch high quality episodes of A Taste of My Life, thank you very much.
Dear iOS, I can spell. Yes, sometimes my stupid fingers will hit the wrong key and, in those cases, I’m grateful for your skill in realizing that I meant “t” instead of “r,” honestly. However, if I am typing something into Google and you think that it looks a little odd, I would much rather that you gave me the benefit of the doubt instead of just replacing it with another word altogether that has very little in common with what I just typed. Don’t get me wrong, at other times I might be grateful for a magical mystery tour of the Internet, but in general, please stop it. I turned off that talking paperclip in Microsoft Word, and I will turn you off too, if I have to.
The Cycle of Insane Anticipation Followed by Unavoidable Letdown
Like many of you, I suspect, I felt a sense of disappointment when Apple debuted the iPhone 4S instead of the iPhone 5 earlier this year. It didn’t matter that the 4S had all manner of new features and a better camera and gave you the closest thing to a Star Trek communicator you could talk to instead of having to touch–I’d worked myself up to expect something called “iPhone 5,” and anything that included the number “4” just couldn’t measure up. And then I realized that I was being an idiot, and that if exactly the same phone had been called “iPhone 5,” I would’ve been excited and immediately making plans to buy one and justify it to myself in some unlikely manner.
I have no idea whether there’s a solution to this cycle of believing the hype about whatever the “next big thing” is–even though you know, on some level, that said hype is at least 10% hyperbole and unlikely to be satisfied by reality–and then feeling a sense of profound, inexplicable disappointment when said next big thing is released and turns out to only be “awesome” instead of “mind-meltingly awesome.” Maybe we’ll come up with a way to fix this all-too-human shortcoming in 2012 (but okay, probably not).
For not just calling it an iPhone 5, because, really, “4S”? What’s that all about? Would it have killed you to be less contrary, just once?
This feels like kicking a dead horse–I may just have mixed several metaphors there, sorry–but the frustration of browsing the Internet on your iOS device, only to come up again and again against sites that either won’t load or won’t work properly because they’re Flash-based, is the kind of small thing that, at first, you laugh off and barely care about, but which builds and builds and builds until you wish that you had the ability to travel back in time and convince Macromedia that they should really reconsider their plans, because one day someone will invent something called an iPad and then they’ll just regret wasting their time. I mean, seriously guys.
Five Things I’m Grateful For This Year
– SOPA not being passed, although it’s still very possible, of course–just a slight delay as opposed to any kind of legitimate change in the way digital legislation is going to turn out in the U.S. Nonetheless, it’s been heartening to see so much debate about the subject, and to watch people get involved and try to educate themselves.
– Echoing Doug slightly, social media. Watching Twitter and Facebook play a large role in organizing protests and changing the world has been humbling and more than a little inspiring.
– Steve Jobs. I think it goes without saying how important and influential he was to technology and its integration into people’s everyday lives, right? I mean, I can imagine a world without the iPod and iPad, but it’s not as much fun as the one we have now.
– Anonymous. Love them or hate them, there’s something compelling about the amorphous group of online activists that occasionally threaten action against places like Fox News or Facebook that never actually happens, but then declare war on pedophiles and show that they’re really not messing about. I think the Internet is a better place for their existence, in some weird way.
– The decentralization of media. As much as I may (and do) complain about the way the online mentality that everything should be free devalues creative talent to the point of endangering it–now we’re circling back to my argument against an entertainment singularity at the outset–I love that things like YouTube or podcasts or whatever democratizes media and opens it up to those who wouldn’t have been able to find an audience under old media rules. It’s nice to find new voices that you wouldn’t expect to hear.
MORE: Tech Buyers’ Guide 2011
Graeme McMillan is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @Graemem or on Facebook at Facebook/Graeme.McMillan. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.