The book update

In a busy noisy world, projects in my life often find their way to the top of the list at various times while other may fall back. I have many projects going, it seems, and one is to get my book edited. This has turned out to be an even greater job than writing the book. I have been doing other daily writing, and some of what I have written may find it’s way to this blog. I also have been playing music. I play cornet in several bands, two of which I run.

With limited spare time to accomplish tasks for projects in my life, I decided to turn the time and energy I have available for this Technojungle project toward working on the book. I do a bit everyday and it moves along. Being my first book, I don’t actually know how to go about the project. I managed to get the book written. Then I realized that I needed to come up with an editing plan. I have some background in publishing had an inclination as to how I could have volunteers read and edit the sections. I realized that the editing was going to be a huge task, however, I may have misestimated just how long this might take. I circulated the section several times to several people and incorporated their suggestions, comments and edits into a new version for each circulation.

A project such as this could end up in an endless path of editing to an unreachable perfection. Knowing when to stop will certainly be an interesting time. I remember the day and the feeling when I decided that the book was written and it was time to start to consider the editing process.

While I may end up with more actual editing—well I am still editing, I suppose—I need to come up with a few images to scatter through the book in places I have indicated. I am also considering a glossary. So the project marches on at a somewhat steady pace. When it will be completed, I am not actually sure.

As of today, I am working on how to produce a glossary for the book. I think I have figured out a way, but it will take time to do. The idea of doing an index also crossed my mind, but that seems to be a specialized field. There are people whose only job is to create indexes. Some of these people specialize in particular genres. Indexing has been described and a profession a craft and even an art. I didn’t realize this, so an index shall have to wait. I do think that having a glossary will be useful and may assist in the creation of an index down the road.

Thus it is that, with this article, I am back to blogging for the Technojungle Project.

Life As Jazz – Part 2

wpid-iu-9-2015-04-4-00-34.jpeg

Part 2 of 3

To the foundations of beat and chords, including harmony, we can now look at melody. Sometimes we use a tune or song to refer to the melody of music. Melody is a musical idea that is developed to lead the music somewhere; to say something and perhaps convey a message, emotions or feelings. The beat and chords support these. The melody is often a poem set to music. A person who composes the song, tune, melody may begin with words and set them to music, or they may begin with music and compose words to fit the music. Often it can be a combination of both.

What then happens with jazz? Jazz is about taking the components of beat, chords/harmony and melody and using them as a starting point to creatively develop something new and spontaneous. In jazz there is the opportunity for participants to individually do this as a solo while fully supported by all the other participants. All the other participants, not only back up and support the individual creative process, they must listen and work together in what could be said as a true democratic process. They draw from the soloist and others to build and construct a performance that is inspired, innovative and improvised. This is the foundation of a jazz performance. It is improvised based on the music and how each musician feels at the moment. Therefore, no two performances of a piece of music are the same.

wpid-iu-8-2015-04-4-00-34.jpeg

This is jazz music in a nutshell. Jazz music has developed over time to be simple or complex or both at the same time. There are many styles of jazz music and some has been written and arranged, although many may argue that you simply can’t write down real jazz. Some written music captures some of the feel of jazz music and allows for a large group of musicians to have a framework to play together and still allow for individual expression of creativity, emotions, feelings through improvisation of solos.

How can we take the essence of jazz music and apply it to living our daily lives? In some ways, it may seem as if many of us already do this, that this is just how life is. I would say that this is how life is meant to be, however it can be robbed from us. If our lives are sort of jazz-like in that we are always taking the framework of our constructed life and improvising as we live, how are we robbed of our jazz and what can we do to protect and live a more jazz-like lifestyle?

If we each take a close look at our daily life, we can see that it comprises the structure needed to function as a group in society and should allow for times of free creative expression through innovation and inspiration. Perhaps we even get to solo. The more we have times of jazz, the more human we feel. If our life becomes too constricted, or we become overwhelmed by aspects of our lives, we feel less human. We can become dehumanized.

wpid-iur-1-2015-04-4-00-34.jpeg

As with jazz music, we need both the structure, the composed music that brings people together, and we need the opportunity for jazz expression. It must be balanced. If there is too much structure, there is no freedom. If there is too much freedom, it becomes difficult for people to be together in harmony. How much structure and composition and how much jazz freedom is right depends on each person and each situation. We need to be on the lookout for that which may be robbing us of our jazz.

Finding ways to ensure we have the right balance of composition and jazz means we need to pay attention and take our solos when the opportunity arises. We must listen to each other and agree with them in harmony. We need to follow the beat and make contributions as we find our space. Perhaps we can regularly ask ourselves, ‘Am I living my jazz?’

wpid-quotation-herbie-hancock-musicians-sense-jazz-music-inspiration-meetville-quotes-277513-2015-04-4-00-34.jpg

Be sure to read The Jazz Lifestyle.

B Sig

Let’s think about it!

© 2015 by Bob Grahame
Please do not reproduce this article, or any part, in any manner, without my permission. Thank you!

Life As Jazz – Part 1

wpid-iu-10-2015-04-4-00-25.jpeg

Part 1 of 3

The beginnings of jazz go back to the tribal beats from black African and West Indies slaves. Can we say that these people were savages? Or did they have a society that was simply different from the European-based societies of those who took them and made them slaves. It can seem now that making slaves out of fellow humans is actually savage.

Can we assume that these people were living civilized lives in places that might have included wild jungles. Could we learn from going back before slavery in Europe and America? Perhaps the perception of wild and savage black jungle dwelling people needs to be unpacked and demystified.

I have to admit that I don’t know enough about this. It is not part of the history books. Why would it, since showing that the people who were taken to be slaves actually had a civilized society in what might seem a wild environment compared to the cities of Europe and America?

wpid-iu-12-2015-04-4-00-25.jpeg

If this is true, then we can see a cycle of humans being uncivilized, becoming civilized and then de-civilized once again and then a re-civilizing. The white people who took slaves were part of a civilization that once had to conquer an uncivilized world of some sort. In taking other human beings, dehumanizing them by saying that being black and from a different ‘uncivilized’ part of the world, makes them savage and less than human, is actually a de-civilizing approach to life. It is not civil to dehumanize. Slavery dehumanizes.

Could this idea of cycling from uncivilized to civilized to de-civilized and then re-civilizing be common in other parts of human history? It would be worth exploring this.

wpid-iu-13-2015-04-4-00-25.jpeg

Where does jazz music fit into the picture? Jazz music emerged from the black slaves of America. Why did it not also emerge from the slaves in Europe? Could it be that the Europeans already had a musical and artistic tradition that had developed over centuries? America was young and the arts could reflect the lack of tradition and find something new. There were many flavours of art pouring into the new societies of America. They came from many parts of Europe and other parts of the world. For the black people who were being brought into the new American societies, it was a world where many forms of music from other places in the world, mostly Europe, could be melted together—including their own.

Perhaps it was the musical foundation of the beats that formed the basis of the new music that would eventually become jazz. The beats of the music of the black people had once civilized and humanized these people to live in what would seem to city people as wild jungles. Even today, African music has a harmonic togetherness and a swing that is uplifting to the soul.

wpid-iu-2-2015-04-4-00-25.png

Notice the word ‘harmonic’ or ‘harmony.’ If the beats introduced by the black people were a foundation, harmony was another aspect they also brought to American music. A truly human civilization means living in harmony with each other and the environment. Harmony is produced when more than one note sounds at the same time, yet are harmonically related and form the basis of chords.

Chord: Middle English cord, from accord. The spelling change in the 18th century was due to confusion with chord. The original sense was ‘agreement, reconciliation,’ later ‘a musical concord or harmonious sound’; the current sense dates from the mid 18th century.

Harmony and agreement are very humanizing. They bring peace. This sounds very civil. We often hear someone say that we need to live in ‘peace and harmony.’ We are in agreement with each other, we are in ‘one accord.’

wpid-iu-1-2015-04-4-00-25.png

Be sure to read The Jazz Lifestyle.

B Sig

Let’s think about it!

© 2015 by Bob Grahame
Please do not reproduce this article, or any part, in any manner, without my permission. Thank you!

Smart machines of the Technojungle (Blog version)

This is the first article in a series of six that look at artificial intelligence from a human perspective. This first one appears on this blog, the other five will be included in the up coming book—The future never arrives… at least not as expected and it always brings baggage.

 

wpid-iu-2-2014-11-18-16-20.jpeg

The notion of humans developing smart artificially intelligent machines has been around for a few decades. Perhaps it represents the holy grail of human ingenuity and invention. Admittedly I had never thought the idea through. To sufficiently understand how these machines might work and what smart machines in our lives might look like.

As I have been working my way through the material for my book, artificial intelligence (AI) has naturally surfaced. Some sort of AI is a reality now in things like Siri on the iPhone. Even smarter AI is getting closer. That has caused more than one person, such as Stephen Hawking, to ring alarm bells announcing something like, AI could be the last invention humans make. A smart machine would essentially amplify the human mind; it might very well out-think humans and over-take them.

As I began to think about the possible AI scenarios, I connected the dots of some other ideas like ‘big data,’ ‘the Internet of things’ (IoT) and ‘the Internet of everything’ (IoE). With big data, the vast amount of unstructured information we have been dumping on the Internet for decades can now be processed with huge computing power available today. IoT and IoE is the goal of putting a computer in everything and connecting them with each other and the Internet.

wpid-iu-2014-11-18-16-20.jpeg

I began to realize that this could be a recipe for disaster, as a smart machine would be able to tap into all the information available on the Internet along with everything in our lives that is computerized. This began to look like a doomsday scenario for humans. How long could we live in a world of machines that just might begin to see us as an inferior nuisance?

Then I asked myself; just how accurate and true is the information on the Internet? I know that humans make mistakes and that not everything you find on the Internet should be believed. I have even heard people dismiss Wikipedia as inaccurate in many places. That can be seen in articles that are missing citations. I know that Facebook often shows me people I might want to connect with. Since I have never heard of many of them, I wonder why I would want to be ‘friends’ with them? Then there is the volumes of noise, that useless sea of information senselessly dumped on the networks. Of course I mustn’t leave out the fact that much information, for whatever reason, is in error. It might be information that has mistakes, or has expired. It might have been purposely and even maliciously made inaccurate, such as a scam or a review of a product placed to promote the product rather that give truthful representation of its value.

wpid-iu-2014-11-18-16-20.gif

If the Internet is being created by humans, then it stands to reason that it is a reflection of who humans are. Thus it must include all our faults. Suddenly I realized that plugging a smart machine into this abyss of information ranging in accuracy might actually not result in the desired outcomes we so treasure through all the promises of technology. How can smart machines assist humans with their daily lives if the information that is available has holes in it?

We humans are duped often by inaccurate information. We also have some very sophisticated abilities to determine that which we choose to believe as accurate. This could range from our experience, to intuition, to our beliefs and values that guide our decision making processes. I have concluded that an AI computer may never be able to make the same decisions we make. That having such machines be guided by what is available on the Internet might actually be no better than what we can do for ourselves, perhaps even worse.

My recent declaration to people I meet has been that we should be nurturing those aspects of being human that a computer would not be able to mimic. I have been stating that we need to be more creative, emotional, inspirational, irrational—the list can go on. I have been advocating that we borrow from the essence of what jazz music is to live a life free from the often enslaving attributes of the Technojungle.

wpid-iu-1-2014-11-18-16-20.jpeg

Now that I take a closer look, the Internet is, truly in many ways, a reflection of who humans are, faults and all, inaccuracies and all. Smart machines might quite simply get lost on the many paths and trails we humans have weaved through the Technojungle we created. Where would that leave us if we have decided that technology will always improve humankind?

In the end, the jungle, the Technojungle, keeps growing, but it remains a jungle. No matter what we do with machines, or what machines try to do with us, the human element is always there and that make it a jungle. The Technojungle exists because of the differences between humans and machines.

Let’s think about it!

Next: Hunting on the human trail
The next article and the entire series of six, will appear in the upcoming book mentioned at the beginning of this article.

© 2014 by Bob Grahame
Please do not reproduce this article, or any part, in any manner, without my permission. Thank you!

Underwearables — Help! My underwear is smarter than I am

wpid-iu-2014-04-2-08-37.jpeg

With new technobuzz words entering our vocabulary everyday along with new technologies, I began to wonder what might be next. Take ‘wearables’, for example. This word seems to have popped up almost overnight. Suddenly, everybody is talking about wearable technology that will change our lives by monitoring what we do so it can assist us in living better.

One of the problems with devices, such as smartphones, is they need to be with us to be useful. I began to wonder what might come next before we actually embed our devices into our bodies—something that might take some convincing before it could become common place. In the meantime, devices have to get ever closer and more personal than we ever imagined. So what could be more personal than underwear with a built-in device. We all wear underwear everyday and being close our bodies, it could really be effective at helping to monitor our lives.

wpid-underwear_thumb-2014-04-2-08-37.jpg

Why would you have something as ridiculous sounding as connected a smart underwearable? I can see embedded flexible monitoring technologies being used to track the health of our lower bodily functions. It could detect unhealthiness in our digestive system, for one possibility. The data monitored could be used to tell you which foods are best for your body. It could detect diseases and other problems early on.

Well OK, I am being a bit facetious here. It is ridiculous in so many ways. Think about it, though, we carry a small device around with us that is, with every new version, getting more capabilities to monitor our health. If we truly ‘are what we eat,’ can’t you see somebody considering this as a good option? I don’t want to give anyone any ideas, yet we do need to think ahead if we want to stay ahead of what technology does to our lives.

Think back a few years. What would you have thought if somebody told you that to pay for your gas in the future, all you would have to do is tap your credit card on the pump and the payment is automatically done? That not only seems like it lacks security, it sounds about as strange as a public toilet that knows when you arrive to do your business and when your business with the device is complete so it can relieve you of having to remember to flush.

Yes, our devices are getting up close and personal. It may not be our underwear. Tests have already been done with inserting RFID (radio frequency identification) in clothing. Imagine a door that knows you are coming and opens automatically. Convenient, right? How about a door that knows you are coming and does not, for one reason or another, open. Perhaps a malfunction, or a glitch, but it may happen if someone wants to keep you out.

Maybe your underwear will have your media playlists. You get in your car and your favourite music starts playing, right where you left off in your playlist. You are waiting at the dentist’s office and your underwear tells a device what movie you were watching earlier and puts it on for you, right at the part where you left off.

Let us keep in mind, always expect the unexpected and always keep in mind that the future never arrives, at least not as expected and it brings baggage.

Let’s think about it!

© 2014 by Bob Grahame
Please do not reproduce this article, or any part, in any manner, without my permission. Thank you!

The Jazz Lifestyle

wpid-jazz-2014-08-18-19-51.png

What we can learn from the music

Are we following technology more than our humanity? In this age of unceasing change, we can easily fall into a trap of technological routines and over-programming of our lives. We become stressed and anxious about living in this dehumanizing jungle of technology. Can jazz music teach us anything about living; about survival in a technology dominated world where machines may one day out think humans?

A jazz approach to life could be a powerful weapon and solution in the technojungle because of its deep humanizing potential. The technobeasts can’t do jazz because jazz is analog, not readable by digital technology. It is a continuum of infinities that no digital technology can comprehend. The human spirit can.

Jazz is democratic, inclusive, creative, innovative, spontaneous, intuitive, inspirational, emotional, empathetic, diverse, spiritual. Among these, technology can’t flourish, however, humanity can.

wpid-th-3-2014-08-18-19-51.jpeg

Jazz meanings include, vigour, energy, effervescence of spirit, joy, pep, magnetism, verve, virility, encouragement and happiness. To jazz things up can mean to enliven, liven up, brighten up, make more interesting and exciting, add some colour to, ginger up, spice up, perk up and pep up. It can be enthusiastic or lively talk.

Originally, jazz music came from African and West Indies music containing tribal beats that became slave songs. These blended with some European styles and the musical styles of ragtime, black sacred music, marching-band music, rural blues, spirituals and gospel music mostly from the African-American baptist churches during the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Jazz music is polyrhythmic and polymetric. It has some structure, yet allows for improvised cross rhythms combined with a syncopation that anticipates the beat. To many enthusiasts, jazz must be able to swing.

To play jazz one needs four components shared by many other styles of music. These components are: rhythm, melody, harmony and chords. The order doesn’t really matter. One might choose the melody first which usually comes with chords. Harmony is derived from the chords, however, many styles of jazz use versions of chords that provide a more jazz-like feel. The flavour of the music can be changed by the rhythm. To live a jazz lifestyle one must seek the important components in life and find the right rhythm to follow.

One of the key elements of Jazz is improvisation allowing for free expression and interpretation of the music. When playing jazz, musicians must listen carefully to each other and respect the feel and interpretation each player brings to the performance. The music can change at any time and what one player does can be of great influence to others. It is a very democratic process of life that includes equally all those involved.

wpid-th-6-2014-08-18-19-51.jpeg

Because jazz music is free expression and full of inspiration and emotion, notes may be changed slightly. Certain notes can be added to give a blue texture. Such notes are called blue notes. Some notes may have their tone bent thus creating a different kind of blue note.

There are a variety of ways to make special jazz sounds and some are unique to particular instruments. A piano, for example, can’t really do a vibrato or shake. A saxophone or trumpet can do the vibrato and shake, but can’t play more than one note at a time, so a chord can only be played one note at a time. This is how a melody can be re-composed on the spot following the chord structure of the music. We can each find our own instrument of life to play along with other people and re-compose our world.

While no two performances of any music are exactly the same, jazz performances can differ greatly. Solos are usually never played the same way more than once and all jazz musicians have their own style and sound. There have been many attempts to write down jazz music. Jazz that is written can capture some of the feeling and provide larger groups a structure so they can play together. A jazz band may use an arrangement. However, the arrangement usually allows for individual free self-expression through improvisation, inspiration—even touching the emotions and intuition of the players and the listeners. Many people think jazz music should never, or can’t be written. For them it is all about taking the barest of structure, perhaps only melody and chords, thus allowing the music to come from their spirit.

Jazz is an analog form of communication. Being analog, which unlike digital, is infinite, moving from one note to another can include every pitch in between those notes. Being analog makes music and jazz best suited to the human body and human spirit.

Jazz music has managed to find it’s way into nearly every corner of the human experience. Along the way, it gathered for itself a myriad of stories and perceptions. Many, like tarnished silverware, are dark and depressing. Yet as the definition above shows, jazz is quite the opposite. It is time to de-tarnish jazz and learn what it really is and to make it our life. It can deepen our humanity and free us from the technojungle that surrounds us.

wpid-th-7-2014-08-18-19-51.jpeg

Flappers doing the Charleston dance.

While jazz music emerged in the late 1800s, the jazz lifestyle was born during the 1920s Jazz Age. It was a post war era that ushered in great technological innovation and cultural change to a world of industry and wealth. Until this era, most children would have a lifestyle similar to that of their parents. New innovations, such as the telephone, phonograph and records, movies, radio, popular magazines and the automobile allowed for a new culture to spread across the country. Young women adopted a rather crude lifestyle and called themselves Flappers. Toward the end of the 1920s though, women were becoming more poised, with correct speech and smarter attire, in other words more respectable.

wpid-th-10-2014-08-18-19-51.jpeg

Respectable flappers.

Jazz music followed the Mississippi on riverboats from New Orleans up north to Chicago and then East to New York. It was adopted by young people from the African-American slaves of the South. The jazz movement captured the youth who were eager to break away from the stiff Victorian lives that seemed to have trapped their parents. It was a time full of excitement and spontaneity.

wpid-1____th-7-2014-08-18-19-51.jpeg

Early New Orleans jazz bands used guitar and string bass instead of louder banjo and tuba used for marching and recording.

wpid-th-5-2014-08-18-19-51.jpeg

The Original Dixieland Jazz Band, a white band from New Orleans that made the first jazz recording. They were issued on the Victor label.

wpid-jazz3-2014-08-18-19-51.jpg

“Fine and Mellow” with Billie “Lady Day” Holiday, considered one of the greatest female jazz singers with Lester Young, Coleman Hawkins and Gerry Mulligan and others from a 1957 CBS TV show “The Sound of Jazz.”

wpid-th-1-2014-08-18-19-51.jpeg

Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong, considered the greatest jazz musician of all time.

Jazz living got into trouble sometimes, leading its followers into drinking and riotous living during a time when the evils of drinking were being curtailed by prohibition. Jazzers were left to follow the music into private and secret night clubs, called speakeasies, run by gangsters.

wpid-th-9-2014-08-18-19-51.jpeg

wpid-th-8-2014-08-18-19-51.jpeg

Like a person of youth, the jazz lifestyle, inspired by the music, needed to do some growing up—to mature. Since jazz music has eventually gained world-wide respect as a unique art form, it is time to take a look at what the style of music can teach us about living in a world of anxiety and unrest where humanity can be buried by the demands of technology.

Jazz is a journey of intimate shared experiences, describing the world and telling stories from the perspective of, developing the authenticity and identity of, each participant. It strives to leave behind the world of stress and anxiety by transforming the moment with peace and harmony. Jazz is an adventure of impulsive spontaneity and self-expression with surprises at every turn. Jazzers compose, recompose and instantly invent and reinvent their life by changing their actions. As an inclusive approach to life, the jazz lifestyle can be lived anywhere by anyone.

Jazz music is about freedom and liberty from oppression allowing self-expression, usually lively, that can swing and lift the human spirit. Yet it adheres to certain structures and is true to its history and legacy. The music has gained respect and is considered the classical music of America. As a lifestyle, jazz living should be compatible with most belief systems and world views since it is a way of living and acting that has the goal of allowing people to be more human.

wpid-jazzmusic-2014-08-18-19-51.jpg

Jazz music insists that all participants listen and pay attention to each other and to the music, and the music brings life. It draws together in harmony the human body, mind and spirit to function as they were created. One will find that the influences on their life that dehumanize and bring stress and anxiety will become less important. A jazz life should help people to break away from the bondages of modern life and focus on the human experience and the things that God has given them.

Jazz music was born in the depths of human misery and despair. It was given to slave people with nothing and is here now to help us living in an enslaving world of technology. With a jazz lifestyle, we can protect ourselves from becoming absorbed by our machines; to keep technology from replacing humanity.

wpid-1____th-1-2014-08-18-19-51.jpeg

This exploration and discussion about a jazz influenced style of living needs to continue. I am not finished, this article is not complete and I welcome the input from readers.

Let’s think about it!

© 2014 by Bob Grahame
Please do not reproduce this article, or any part, in any manner, without my permission. Thank you!

Quotes

“I sincerely believe that jazz is the folk music of the machine age.” — Paul Whiteman, popular 1920s orchestra leader dubbed ‘The King of Jazz’ due to his orchestra having so many famous jazz musicians playing orchestrated jazz.

“There was every reason why this music sprang into being about 1915. The acceleration of the pace of living in this country, the accumulation of social forces under pressure (and long before the war, too), mechanical inventions, methods of rapid communication, all had increased tremendously in the past 100 years— notably in the past quarter century. In this country especially the rhythm of machinery, the overrapid expansion of a great country endowed with tremendous natural energies and wealth have brought about a pace and scale of living unparalleled in history. Is it any wonder that the popular music of this land should reflect these modes of living? Every other art reflects them.” — Paul Whiteman

wpid-2____th-1-2014-08-18-19-51.jpeg

Wynton Marsalis, considered to be one of the leading jazz performers and experts.

As long as there is democracy, there will be people wanting to play jazz because nothing else will ever so perfectly capture the democratic process in sound. Jazz means working things out musically with other people. You have to listen to other musicians and play with them even if you don’t agree with what they’re playing. It teaches you the very opposite of racism and anti-Semitism. It teaches you that the world is big enough to accommodate us all. — Wynton Marsalis

wpid-1____th-5-2014-08-18-19-51.jpeg

The never to be left out of jazz…

We could watch the world in a tube

wpid-iu-2014-09-2-14-16.gif

In my life during 1965, the television was probably the most influential piece of technology. The invention of the television might well be connected to the telephone, another important influencer. In 1880, Alexander Graham Bell took sealed documents to the Smithsonian Institute. Word got out that the documents described an invention called a “photophone” that could send images mechanically. This started a flurry of activity and controversy. There was an illustration in Punch’s Almanac for 1879 depicting a “telephonoscope.”

In the early days, actually for most of its history, the TV was a box with a large cathode ray tube (CRT) inside that held the world ready for viewing. Without getting too technical and yet still describe the difference between the CRT TV and the TV of 2015, the cathode ray tube was a triangular shaped tube with an electron gun in the pointed part at the back of the TV. It was so long that there was a bump that stuck out five or six inches at the back of the TV, making it difficult to push the huge unit close to the wall. The front of the tube was the viewing surface and was round in the early days, but square in most cases by 1965.

wpid-iu-1-2014-09-2-14-16.jpeg

We actually had a round TV in a very large cabinet. It was a colour TV, which was a very new thing in those days. A couple of years prior to 1965, TVs began to go from black and white, actually a sort of bluish colour, to being wonderful “living” colour. I can remember the neighbours having the first colour TV. One of the first TV shows to be broadcast in colour was The Wonderful World of Disney, probably because they had a lot of colour content, from cartoons to movies, they could use. We would go over to the neighbours to watch Disney.

wpid-th-7-2014-09-2-14-16.jpegwpid-iu-2014-09-2-14-16.jpeg

It took quite a few years before most TV shows were in colour. Colour was an expensive process. There were only a half-dozen, or less, channels in those days, depending on where you lived. The stations were broadcast from local transmitters and the TV would pick up the broadcast with rabbit ears. Rabbit ears were two long metal telescopic spikes called antennas or aerials that pointed at an angle in opposite directions but came together at the bottom to form a V-shape where they connected in a small box with a wire that lead to the TV. Some people actually had a large antenna mounted on the roof of their house and a wire stretched from the roof to the TV set.

wpid-iu-6-2014-09-2-14-16.jpeg

wpid-iu-5-2014-09-2-14-16.jpeg

CRT TVs were not instant on. Often the volume knob was the on switch. One would turn the knob, it would click to on and then turn a little more to get the desired volume. But wait. Yes, wait. Both the CRT and the audio amplifier used tubes and thus had to warm up for many seconds. First, a small dot of light would appear in the centre of the screen. Sometime a flicker and soon an image would appear that might be distorted until all the tubes were warm in the TV set.

That might be only the start. One might have to adjust the antennas to get the best reception. Sometimes the TV set might need other adjustments. I mentioned a bit about the CRT earlier and said it was a gun. I’ll try to explain this as simply as I can without looking up the exact details of how it worked. I just want you to get the idea behind the device.

wpid-1____iu-1-2014-09-2-14-16.jpeg

The electron gun shot a beam to the front of the CRT which was coated with something, perhaps it was phosphorus. The phosphorus would light up. The beam could be directed to different places on the screen and the way the screen was filled with an image was to have the gun draw or scan lines across the screen. If one were to look very closely at the image on the screen they would see these scanned lines. I think there were around 525 lines and I don’t think this could be altered. If one had a larger TV, the scan lines would be larger. The gun would make a line across the top of the screen from left to right and then move down and draw another line, repeating to draw more lines until it reached the bottom of the screen where it would go back to the top and start again. All this happened so fast that the whole screen looked lit-up. The actual image was probably produced by varying the intensity of the beam. Less intensity at a certain point on the screen would produce a darker image. A colour TV had three guns, red, blue and green that would combine to scan colour on to the screen.

horizontal

Modern TVs use a liquid crystal display (LCD) or light emitting diode (LED) screen. This technology does away with the gun at the back of a big CRT and thus allows for the screen to be very thin. TVs are no longer boxes and large pieces of furniture. Because they are solid state digital technology with no tubes, they can be instant on and not restricted by the number of lines that can be scanned on the screen. They have other issues that govern the quality of the image which are outside the scope of this article.

wpid-0702_dayintech_full-2014-09-2-14-16.jpgwpid-1929-western-television-2014-09-2-14-16.jpg

wpid-1____iu-2014-09-2-14-16.gif

The television was invented in the late 1920s. I think I remember seeing the first image that was ever broadcasted. It was of Felix the Cat. Television technology was expensive and the Great Depression and then World War II delayed the TV from becoming the massive personal and societal influencer it has become. Prosperity came after the war and so did many new appliances. Modern technology was gaining a deep foothold on North American life. Western societies were ready for the TV by the late 1940s.

During the 1920s, 30s, and 40s, people either listened to the radio or went out to see a movie, play or other form of entertainment. TV allowed people to stay home and see the world from their own living room. It was a natural step from the radio in the living room, but with an important difference. With radio, the listener would sit back and imagine the scene that the audio was depicting. This kept the mind as an active participant. The TV, with both audio and image, was much more passive. One simply had to watch and listen. There was much less thinking.

As television became more popular, it was considered somewhat a threat to radio, just as radio had threatened the phonograph recording industry, which had threatened the live entertainment industry. The movie industry began to scramble to come up with many new technological features from wide-screen to 3D.

wpid-iu-2014-09-2-14-16.png

At first, shows were done as a stage play. The equipment was cumbersome and it was difficult to move around, so the viewer was sort of a member of the audience. It wasn’t long until more than one camera was being used. I think it was Desi Arnaz, the husband of Lucille Ball, and their I Love Lucy show that began to use more than one camera during the 1950s.

wpid-2____iu-1-2014-09-2-14-16.jpegwpid-1____iu-5-2014-09-2-14-16.jpeg

Recording the television shows was very crude in the beginning. The kinescope was a process where a film camera was aimed at a TV to record the image on film. It was not long until the equipment became more compact and video tape recording was invented. Taping, allowed for shows to be delayed for better time periods different broadcast time zones, and for editing. As more satellites were put in orbit the possibilities of content were expanded since content could be gathered at one location and beamed to a satellite and then to another location in the world. It was in 1965 that the first commercial communication satellite, Intelsat 1, went into operation. Think for a moment how that event has changed the world.

wpid-iu-3-2014-09-2-14-16.jpegwpid-3____iu-1-2014-09-2-14-16.jpeg

 

This brings us to 1965. The Vietnam War was on and I can remember well my father watching Walter Cronkite anchor the 6 PM CBS Evening News with very graphic reporting of the Vietnam War. This was the other side of the world in a tube in our house—a war in a tube in our house—at dinner time. Never before had war come to the dinner table. To me, this is a stark marker in how society had changed.

wpid-1____iu-2014-09-2-14-16.jpegwpid-southofthedmz1966-2014-09-2-14-16.jpg

 

Even with radio, it was turned on primarily to listen to a show. Perhaps one might listen to some music or a drama. One would listen and imagine. Nothing else was done. By 1965, we were eating while watching TV, mothers would iron clothes while watching a soap opera drama. Children would come home from school and plop themselves down in front of the TV to be parented. Parents didn’t have to worry that their child might be out somewhere getting into trouble. The world had changed forever. You didn’t have to go out into the world, it could come to you in a tube.

wpid-iu-2-2014-09-2-14-16.jpeg

Actually, children of the TV generation were being raised by the media. You could believe anything just because it was on TV. Children demanded the latest toy and the latest sugar-coated cereal. Children no longer made toys out of whatever was around and diets became processed by machines, preserved by chemicals and instantized. We were told it was fun, or that it was good for us.

Many toys, such as the Frisbee and the Yo-Yo, became ever cemented into the toy chest through the popularization by TV. The pace of life picked up as we struggled to mould our lives around our favourite TV shows. Often, there was no time to cook a meal, so companies, such as Swanson, seized on the opportunity and invented TV dinners. Just take the foil tray out of the box and place the frozen meal in the oven and, by the time the first commercial comes on the TV—perhaps even an advertisement for a TV dinner—your meal is ready, all segmented into sections of the tray. There was one indentation in the foil tray for meat, one for vegetables and one for potatoes. If that was too much, you could simply stop off at Colonel Sanders Kentucky Fried Chicken (now, because of our rapid lives, often shortened to KFC) and bring home a bucket with everything in it, just in time to unfold the TV trays (small folding flimsy tables) to see your TV show.

wpid-4____iu-1-2014-09-2-14-16.jpeg

As modern life began to revolve more and more around the TV, we found we needed more and more TVs so each person could go to a separate room to watch their own favourite show. Just as with phones, why not have one in every room. I counted seven TVs in our house one day. One of our TVs was a Sony Trinitron. This TV ran for 30 years in our house and probably would have kept going had we not decided to move on to newer technology. Our Sony was one of what were commonly call portable TVs and generally had the rabbit ears built in.

wpid-television-sony-en-casa-de-mis-padres-2014-09-2-14-16.jpg

We would come home and turn on the TV to see what was on. If you didn’t want to watch what was on one channel, you would get up and turn the tuner dial to another station. It would click for each number on the dial. By 1965, there were more stations coming on and one would have to sit next to the TV and turn the dial to see what other channels have on. If there was a commercial on a particular channel, you would have to check other channels and come back, or wait until the program resumed. By the time you had checked all the channels, the shows would be changing and you would have to start over and by then your tea or coffee, or your TV dinner, would be cold.

I think Zenith was one of the first to solve the problem. They came up with a remote control that worked by a button that would create an audio tone. One could turn the TV on or off, raise or lower the volume in steps and, of course, and change the channel. Voila, problem solved. Well, partially. You still had to check all the channels and there was no jumping, you moved up the channels sequentially. But, you could stay in your seat and eat your ice cream before it melted. The invention of the remote, also invented channel surfing. However, there was one problem. At my friend’s house there was one of these TVs with the remote control. Sometimes the doorbell or the telephone would ring and operate the TV because the remote operations were accomplished with audio tones.

wpid-21d08b922ce11f0d47430ad17a42f0b3-2014-09-2-14-16.jpg

 

Fifty years later, we have gone from a few channels to hundreds. It seems like we have more than the world in a tube. The TV has out-grown the tube. It is no longer the warm analog friend that was introducing us to the world in 1965. It is a digital portal to the universe. Gone are the rabbit ears; we now have a cable, like a giant pipe feeding us with whatever we want. Most channels do not go off the air in the middle of the night, displaying a test pattern. It all just keeps going as an endless flow ready to flood our minds at any time of the day or night. Television stations are no longer multinational corporations. Content providers who own the cables are no longer king. Content can come from a variety of sources and can be produced by almost anyone. The floodgates are open.

wpid-th-9-2014-09-2-14-16.jpegwpid-th-10-2014-09-2-14-16.jpegwpid-th-11-2014-09-2-14-16.jpeg

I remember well when I first heard the idea of a flat TV that could hang on the wall like a picture. I imagined a wall with pictures hanging on it and a TV somewhere in the middle. There were other ideas of 3D and an entire wall as a TV. Even a holographic TV similar to the imaging device seen in the Star Wars movie. I am watching to see if the new 3D TVs of today will be a fad as it was with the movies of the 1950s. Today, we can have a TV on a table, on the wall, in our lap, in our hand, in our car, almost anywhere and it comes with more than TV. TV is only one part of the multi-communicative devices we have at our fingertips.

Our current family TV is a Panasonic that sits on the mantle above the electric fireplace in our townhouse. It is connected to a sound system, a Blu-Ray disc player and the Internet. We can do Skype or watch YouTube videos among many other content sources which we seldom use. We do not subscribe to cable television, but seem to get a dozen channels that come with our Internet subscription. That seems to be plenty for us. Even with only a similar number of channels that I had in 1965, I can end up watching far too many hours of TV. It is mesmerizing. I can’t even imagine how I would settle on a show to actually watch if we could get hundreds of channels. It boggles my mind. So, I sit and flip back and forth sometimes trying to watch more than one show on the few channels we get and attempting to get some things done on my computer at the same time. How do people with everything do it?

wpid-1____iu-2-2014-09-2-14-16.jpegwpid-1____iu-3-2014-09-2-14-16.jpegwpid-2____iu-2014-09-2-14-16.jpegwpid-th-1-2014-09-2-14-16.jpegwpid-th-5-2014-09-2-14-16.jpegwpid-iu-4-2014-09-2-14-16.jpegwpid-th-8-2014-09-2-14-16.jpeg