Jun 182010

TV is the death of productivity. Not the productivity of the folks who created the programs, just that of those who watch the programs.

I cite reason one as the fact that it is virtually impossible to do anything productive while watching TV. Some will argue that they watch TV all the time – while they work, do homework, knit, read, etc. Any activity that can be done while watching TV cannot be productive. Knitting, for example. Normally knitting is productive because you produce something useful for wearing or just for looking at. How many people do you know that can knit blind?

What actually happens when people watch TV and do other tasks at the same time is that they do not give their full attention to either watching TV or the task at hand. i.e. they are multitasking with a single processor (their brain / body) and time slicing. Something that normally could have been done in an hour will take two hours, or five, while watching TV. This is not being productive while watching TV – this is being productive while not watching TV and taking frequent and unnecessary breaks to watch TV.

This should be enough to convince anyone, but I’m sure someone will say “I don’t even watch TV, I just listen to it (and I can still be productive).”

No, you can’t listen to TV and be productive at the same time. You can listen to music and be productive, but not TV. Music can be listened to while concentrating on something else specifically because it can be blocked out. TV cannot simply be “blocked out” and listened to at the same time because there is dialog. In order to hear and understand the dialog, you have to give some attention, i.e. some thought, to what is being said and what it means. If you are giving thought to the dialog, then that is time you are not spending on the task at hand, thus you are time slicing.

“Well, I have the TV on and I don’t listen or watch, and I’m still productive!” This, in fact, is exactly my point. If you are productive, then you are not listening to or watching TV. You should turn it off to conserve electricity. Turning on a radio for background noise is much more efficient than TV (and much cheaper than cable).

Apr 182010

TiVo is one of the greatest ideas that has ever come to fruition. It’s not perfect of course, mainly because you still have to fast-forward instead of it automatically skipping commercials. There’s at least one non-technical problem as well that I’ve experienced a number of times. This is how it happens.

I’m fast-forwarding through commercials one day while watching a recorded show and I see a commercial for Wendy’s. They have a fish sandwich again! It looks great and I can’t wait to try it out, so the next time I’m out and hungry, I stop by Wendy’s to pick one up. “We don’t have the fish sandwich anymore, that ended last week.” Unfortunately, I watched the show (and the commercial) so much later than the airing that the special was already done and over with. It’s also annoying when your “regularly scheduled programming” is interrupted for a news bulletin that happened a month ago! Or how about those storm warnings that interrupt the show? Ugh! Don’t these people know I’m using a TiVo…