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A Matter of Time


I finally got around to watching the final series of Angel this month. The spin-off show from the mega-fantastic Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I had watched all the seasons downloaded from IRC, save for the last. Casting my mind back into the depths of time, I do recall that I missed Season 5 because it coincided with the studying I was doing for my university finals.

Well, two years later, I've finally cracked open a week of free evenings to get to grips with the DVD version. It's fantastic - I've effectively Tivo'd my viewing by about two years. I've managed to avoid talking to friends and colleagues about the plotline for all this time, handily avoiding any potential spoilers.

And this got me thinking. There are several things at work here in my happy last-ditch Dru-drooling. One is an issue of time; one is an issue of niche; the last is an issue of the changing market for video content.

It might sound obvious, but our universe is really governed by time. I mean this in both the macro and the micro sense. At the macro level, how the world operates is obviously dictated by the basic laws of nature, time being one of them. However, at the micro level, the universe in which we perceive ourselves to inhabit is almost solely governed by the amount of time we perceive we have and the number of things we have to do in that amount of time.

Our free time has become an interesting problem. Simply, there generally isn't enough of it to go around. As we work harder than ever to get ahead in life, our supply of time dries up. We end up being so busy that we miss things that we would otherwise consider important (like, in my case, the finale of Angel). Being able to time-shift our leisure pursuits by an hour, a day, a week, a year - this is very handy in the modern world.

The Internet, as with other creations of man, is governed by time. It might not seem like it at first - existing, as it does, in something of an ether - but it really is. Much of the Internet is concerned with news - time-sensitive information that needs to be conveyed. Whether it’s tech sites like TrustedReviews conveying news about new products being released; whether it’s the BBC informing the public about the war in the Middle East; whether it’s my cousin announcing the birth of his child to our family.

We've generated mechanisms for dealing with this fact. RSS pushes content updates to us, allowing us to stay on top of what’s going on. Email newsletters convey messages and news that we request, so we don't have to waste time heading to the website to get the data we need.

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