entertainment: newspapers are information services catering to the masses, and commercial television almost defines that concept. Commercial television news is clearly a kind of information service, reporting facts, but it is also largely an entertainment product. A significant fraction of network television news budgets come from the networks' entertainment budgets, and the proliferation of "newsy" shows with celebrity anchors shows just how profitable such "infotainment" can be. Some would even argue, a la H.L. Mencken, that government itself is a source of entertainment (certainly supported by the success of the cable television network, C-SPAN), raising questions about some fraction of political expenses (polling, campaign consultants, and other election costs) relating to entertainment. As discussed in Chapter 3, related arguments might be made—and are made, seriously—in the context of education. The question is not what will happen with the new technologies and entertainment, but rather, what will these technologies add to the technology/entertainment mix already well in place?



In 1962, an integrated circuit (IC) contained 10 transistors; today, one IC contains millions of transistors.


"Intel Corp. and Spectron Microsystems, Inc. [plan] software that will support native signal processing on a Pentium chip, allowing multimedia software to run on the processor instead of requiring dedicated hardware. … The Pentium processor, though not fast enough to handle Joint Photographic Experts Group- and Motion Pictures Expert Group-type compression, will be able to compress and manipulate audio signals. This means that recorded speech can be slowed down or sped up. … The initial release will support audio only; video and communication will be supported later" (Mohan, 1994). A variety of specialized hardware components is used to support a variety of functions, from sound to graphics to communications, increasingly displacing specialized boxes and subsystems. Much innovation is taking place in more miniature and more integral communications componentry, for example, providing phone, fax, and voice mail capabilities within personal computers. See Corcoran (1993).


New terms—"personal digital assistants," "personal communicators," and the like—have already been coined to describe these products.


For instance, AT&T and a small company specializing in digital signal compression are developing an electronic "black box" for television set tops, to provide for reception and decoding of movies and other video services using telephone lines (Klein and Aston, 1993). Hewlett Packard and TV Answer collaborated to build a set-top box that provides interactive services; the system uses a portion of the radio spectrum to uplink and download signals from a satellite (Millison and LaGrow, 1993).


The overlap between computers and conventional consumer electronics was noted in connection with the newcomer role of Microsoft and Intel at the 1994 Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show. "Their inclusion illustrates just how blurred the line has become between computers and consumer electronics. While sales of more traditional consumer equipment languish, computer concerns hope to spur purchases of multimedia

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