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Where is the Geek TV?

Date/Time Permalink: 07/29/07 09:09:20 am
Category: General

For once, Digg actually hit something worth talking about. This link goes to the story of the decline of TechTV and its replacement with a lot of babble about video games.

The Digg commenters lament its passing, but there's another, even more pertinent thought behind that thought. What about a channel that teaches people something general about computers?

It's not as if there wasn't demand for it. Does a day go by in the life of the average tech-savvy person when they don't hear somebody else lament their own lack of technical know-how? Every day we hear the great masses, posting desperately in forums with their frustrating problems, voicing their exasperation at how little support they have.

Make no mistake at all: no matter how much of a "lamer" someone might be, everybody wants to know more about how to use technology. That animosity that sometimes crops up between the "elite" and the "lamer" reflects a resentment on the part of the less able: they want to learn! There just aren't enough resources for them to do that.

How much better off would society be if we had TV programs with an engaging, friendly host showing people on camera how to solve their computer problems? Explaining in plain English (or whatever language) all about hardware upgrades, application features, Internet security, or even just how the basic stuff works?

I've said before that using computers in today's society is a basic life skill, and therefore has every reason to be taught in school just like driver's ed. and home ec. I remember in my school there was even a course in financial management; how to balance a checkbook or calculate a loan. Further electives teach crafts like woodshop or basic electronics.

And the TV audience has certainly responded well to educational shows about other topics. Case in point: "the Shadetree Mechanic". Then there's the home improvement channels which teach you how to be your own carpenter and interior decorator, the cooking shows that teach food preparation; heck, we have fashion shows that teach you all about how to dress. And if you're saying "But computers are too esoteric.", what about the Discovery and Science channels that inform about every bizarre subject from giant squids to space missions? Mythbusters, along with the entertainment value of watching Adam and Jamie blow stuff up, lets you come away a little smarter about physics and engineering.

You could make a pretty strong case that about half of the cable channels out there have some educational value as part of their appeal. Granted, they aren't often packaged in the premium channel packages, but they get made and watched anyway.

The market is there. The demand is there. Even the awareness is there: I've recently noticed a few of the youth-oriented channels integrating Web 2.0 Internet content with their production, showing YouTube clips in the cat hours of the night or having an RSS feed crawl along the bottom of the screen. I'm finally seeing computers acknowledged on television without using the words "information superhighway" or "cybernaut".

All we're missing is "The Basement Geek": Today, we're going to find out what a video card is and why you need one, then our web designer will show us how to build a basic web page that works in any browser. Then, we're going to deliberately infect this computer with that new virus that's going around, and explain what it does and how you can protect yourself. And we'll round out the hour with "How to set up a printer". Hold the phone, grandma, and give your grandkids the day off; we'll teach you everything you need to know!

Penguin Pete sig-o-the-day

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