Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Digital Dummies A Must See

So there I was in a taxi roaring down Toronto's busy University Avenue when I spotted the driver of a roaring Mercedes that passed me.
The elegant blonde was texting with one hand, eating a ham sandwich with the other and tenuously holding the steering wheel with --get this --her knees.
And that's why I couldn't get enough of the new CBC documentary Are We Digital Dummies?
The answer in my case is pretty much in the affirmative. You'll have to take a look and make up your own mind.
The fast flowing documentary packs a whole lot of information in its 47 minutes. And that's one reason why I'm still watching TV when I could spend my time googling, tweeting and Facebooking.
Other minds more profound than my own have been wondering for years whether this great burst of technology is producing a dulled populace. The statistics used here are mind numbing: 12 billion text messages sent daily (but who's counting).
An amazing 13 million Canadians are Facebook users.
The number of personal computers used around the planet will double in the next five years.
As a newspaper TV critic for 38 years I can attest to the dwindling resources of the old fashioned newspaper.
Once upon a time every commuter in Toronto seemed to be reading a Toronto Star or Globe in the morning transit.
On the GO train recently to Oakville I could count on one hand the old codgers reading a hunk of newsprint. Other, younger passengers were twittering away, reading on their Kindles, or chattering away on their cell phones.
Look at the experiences of U.S. president Barrack Obama who was the first of his kind to communicate with a blackberry.
He has just been soundly trounced in midterm elections by a volatile electorate who demand quick answers to a lingering recession-- they get their news on cable or even on their iPods.
And the computer horizon changes daily --Facebook is now out to eat up the email world.
As a laugh I'm including the horrendous machine I used to lug around when reporting from Los Angeles. No wonder I wound up with a sore back.
Digital Dummies shows us everybody wants to get into the instant communications act including our Queen who's shown visiting Waterloo recently and getting her own personal blackberry.
Experts tell us the digital revolution means there no longer is a hierarchy --everyone is an authority. But many of us want to communicate all the time. Some people set their blackberry to send out messages at 3 a.m. just to assure their bosses they're always on top of things.
Studies indicate people with blackberries work longer than those who don't because they can never relax, never shut down.
Internet addiction is the next big medical problem. We visit a Washington State facility where blackberries are turned off and participants allowed to become whole once more.
Children seem especially affected --many no longer read books and have trouble with personal interaction. Their attention spans are shrinking.
One hidden camera shows a bus driver texting instead of looking at the road --the inevitable accident rattles his handicapped passengers.
And a plane from San Diego to Minneapolis overshot the runway because pilots were busy texting.
Director-writer Andy Blicq (The Secret World Of Shoplifting) has done an exceptional job in marshaling the evidence, visiting the right experts and producing a blast at the technological revolution that is chock full of fascinating scenes.
So stop your texting for an hour, will ya--and watch what is certain to be a Gemini nominated best documentary entry for the next awards ceremony.
MY RATING: ****.

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