Thursday, 4 February 2010

Dongles and bellyvision versus helical wind turbines…

Although the latest computer gadgets have always been unaffordable irrelevancies to me, I recently experienced life on the frontline of new technology when I started working for a pioneering internet innovation. Engulfed in the milieu of ‘dongles’ (portable internet devices) and ‘bellyvision’ (the bizarrely named phenomenon of watching TV while surfing the net), I have been temporarily shaken out of my indifference.

I was working to help launch, a website designed to serve links in sync with whatever is on the television. As the project developed, the office was awash with murmurings of internet and television merging in a two-screen revolution. A fledgling idea at the moment, currently only operating for channel FIVE’s CSI-style series Numb3rs, the industry-wise are predicting that it will revolutionise the television experience by uniting two of the biggest media of the 21st century. TV viewers and internet users will morph into ‘viewsers’.
However, even after experiencing the first-hand frustrations involved in developing pioneering technological ideas, the fast-moving frontiers of computer innovation still baffle me. From the paper-thin apple ipad screen threatening to make books redundant, to the revolutionary Microsoft Surface (seemingly an interactive, touch-screen coffee table currently featured in cafes in Las Vegas), I just can’t motivate myself to keep pace with the rapid succession of advances.

On the other hand, mention urban agriculture (super-green, self-sufficient buildings inbuilt with food-growing ecosystems) or solar groves (raised solar panels that shade vehicles while powering EV charging points) and I am instantly curious, envisioning futuristic technologies able to transform polluted, congested cities into clean, green hubs in sync with the world's natural resources. Even seemingly mundane press releases detailing vertical-axis wind turbines for urban areas stir my enthusiasm, and I find myself imagining terraces of self-sufficient houses with vertical turbines installed next to their satellite dish.

My selective enthusiasm for new technology seems to confirm suspicions that I have become an eco-geek. Or perhaps it just confirms a genuine concern about what happens to us in the future. I am not a fear-mongering alarmist, but in the face of a looming energy crisis (frequently forecasted by experts in the news), something needs to change to make our way of life more efficient. It seems implausible that people will make drastic sacrifices in the name of distant environmental benefits. As such, cutting-edge technology glamorising greenness and making sustainability manageable is undoubtedly the best option – and something I feel I can justify being excited about.

(Curious about Tellylinks? Check out my Suite 101 profile for a more detailed article!)

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