News Articles

In a Flyover State: Looking Ahead South of the Border

For one week—strangely enough, in a Mexican resort—I had a little glimpse into the future of how we will all take in media one day 5/30/2011 12:01:00 AM Eastern

Turns out some scary stuff happens when you’re on vacation
in Mexico. And I’m not talking about that red-hot vacation
spot of Ciudad Juarez. And I’m definitely not talking about the spring break pilgrimage I took there a hundred
years ago in college when someone in our group
did something you’re not supposed to do on a
nightclub floor (and can’t be repeated here) and
ended up in El Jail (and may still be there).

But I found out firsthand recently that people
on vacation in Mexico tend to let their hair down
a little…well, for those of you lucky enough to
have some to let down. I don’t know if it was
just getting away from work (probably) or perhaps
the adult beverage or 13 I had on any given
day (definitely), but I found myself doing a few
things I never thought an old married guy like
myself would do at my age.

Oh calm down: This isn’t going to be a “Dear
Penthouse Forum” story. Here is where I bring it
back to my sad, boring existence. I’m simply talking
about taking in media in lots of new ways.

For one week—strangely enough, in a Mexican
resort—I had a little glimpse into the future
of how we will all take in media one day.

And it turns out a lot of it was centered
around my iPad. That is, when I could wrestle
it from my 3- and 5-year-old sons doing all
those educational exercises like flinging pissedoff
birds at green pigs and strategically planting zombie-killing horticulture. You know, real Parent
of the Year kind of stuff.

When it comes to media, I am decidedly
old-fashioned. I like huge TVs and comfortable
couches. For someone who runs B&C, you’d
think I would be an early adopter of new technology.
Not the case. That’s why Mexico was so
jarring (and fortunately, I’m not referring to what
the food did to my insides).

Let’s start with reading. I am a book guy. I like
to shop for books in bookstores (may they rest
in peace). I like to buy books and read books.

So I’m down in Mexico, and when I flew
through the books I brought, I grabbed one off
the wife’s stack, which happened to be The Hunger
Games
. I had always meant to read it, given
the buzz, so I started it, and what felt like 15
minutes later, I was done. And for some reason,
little Katniss had me hooked, so I wanted to read
the next one. With no bookstore in sight, I decided
to do something I had resisted harder than
cheering for an L.A. sports team: I pulled out the
iPad, downloaded the Kindle app and bought
the second book. And then the third.

I’ve never cheated on my wife with a professional,
but I imagine it would be a similar experience—it was quick, easy, not as expensive as
I thought and left me satisfied but feeling bad
about myself for doing it. I haven’t done it again
since, but I unfortunately didn’t hate it. And you
know the old saying: “Once you go Kindle, you
never go back.” At least, I think that’s the saying.

Watching TV was also like something out of
the future down there, as they had networks for
all the major studios like Warner Bros., CBS and
Sony. So Big Bang Theory and The Mentalist were
on WB, not CBS. While that’s not happening
here this year or next, it made me wonder if that’s
not where we’ll be at some point down the road.

Also, Osama bin Laden met his maker while I
was down there. To follow the developments that
night, the TV became only one outlet, with my
iPad capturing more of my attention as I accessed
streaming video from the U.S. and of course followed
everything in real time on Twitter.

When I planned my trip to Mexico, my goal
was to see the bottom of a lot of empty booze
glasses, not the future of media. But a funny
thing happened on the way (back) to the bar: I
found myself in some seriously unfamiliar territory.
Like it or not, it’s where we are headed. And
that’s not just the booze talking.

E-mail comments to
bgrossman@nbmedia.com and follow him
on Twitter: @BCBenGrossman

September
October