I have never been a fan of the digital immigrant/digital native comparison. I’m reasonably old in technology years, having grown up with cabinet televisions, rotary telephones and “hi fi” systems to play records and later cassette tapes. We continue to store lots of music in those so-archaic-they-are-coming-back-again formats. We’re ready for the 21st century vinyl revolution!
But I am finding my place in the world of media proliferation and overlap. I understand that content has become disconnected from its traditional hardware and timelines. Listening to the radio now probably means listening to radio content rather than tuning in on a traditional receiver. The one radio I still use is in my car, and I listen to my local public broadcasting station. At home, my live listening shifts to Alexa who is able to provide access to multiple radio stations with the content I want so I may be listening live but to a station on the West coast. I also time shift the content, using the NPR One app to access recordings of both “real” radio programs and separately produced podcasts that have never been broadcast over the radio airwaves. I listened to the BBC News story about Norway switching off FM over an FM radio station being streamed through my Alexa.
So, I’m no stranger to the digital content revolution. But, late last year, I discovered my digital blindspot. I am a Gilmore Girls fan and was excited when Netflix announced the new series. I marked its debut on my calendar. In my mind, they would debut like a broadcast television series or movie, probably around 9 PM or so. At some point during the debut day, I logged into social media to see reviews appearing from people who had obviously already watched all four episodes. How, I wondered, did they get early access? It took a minute or two before I realized they weren’t special: just smarter. Netflix isn’t a television station; it offers simultaneous access to television shows and movies. So, it wouldn’t be broadcasting the Gilmore Girls’ episode at any special time but simply making them live. And clearly, they had already done that. I fired up the tablet and sure enough, there they were.
I suppose now is when I say I chuckled ruefully at my digital native folly but mostly I just was glad I could watch earlier rather than later as 9 PM is starting to be my bed time.
It’s anytime, anywhere, (almost) any content,and I think I’m getting the hang of it.