Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Techno Samhain

Tonight is Halloween, and the ghosts and goblins are making their annual trek from WalMart and beyond to grace our doorsteps with threats of mischief and requests for colorfully wrapped pieces of high-fructose corn syrup.

The name Halloween is derived from the night preceding a Christian holiday. All Hallows' Eve, or the Eve of All Hallows, comes the night before All Hallows' Day (also called Hallowmas, All Saints' Day, or All Souls Day). All Hallows' Day (and all its related names) is celebrated on November 1st, or the first Sunday after Pentecost in honor of all souls, known and unknown, who have departed this world for the next.

The ritual of remembering the dead is not unique to Christianity. In Wiccan circles, October 31st is known by the name Samhain, which is a celebration of and for the dead. The departed (family members, loved ones, and ancestors) are remembered and often invited to participate in the celebration and ceremony to offer guidance and remind the living of their connection to the past.

Learning from our past connections is extremely valuable. As we move further into the 21st century, our connections with technology become almost inseperable. So as we push technological innovations in every facet of our lives, it can be useful to periodically reflect on their progenitors (especially as we obsolete them at an every increasing pace).

Take, for example, digital and high-definition television technologies. The promise of hundreds of truly life-like HD channels is upon us. Within 2 years, HDTV will become ubiquitous, as the broadcast spectrum of the 20th century is retired. Within one generation, labels such as "VHF", "UHF" and "broadcast networks" will have become long forgotten.

So, on this night, let's remember one of the ancestors of modern entertainment technology.

In 1963, a revolution in television was taking place as color was replacing black and white. Television programming was just beginning to move into this uncharted territory, and the number of shows that were filmed in color would depend on the adoption of this new technology in a market that was filled with black and white television sets. RCA, in its continued reign as a television technology pioneer, began to market a line that would help guarentee that color would replace black & white as the standard set in every home.

It was not the first time that "Vista" swept the nation...

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