Monday, July 21, 2008

YouTube's Ruining My Dinner Parties

I knew it was coming to this. Last night I was getting ready for a dinner party -- my teenage kid even helped me clean the house, prep the food, lots of amazing cooperation -- but then came the YouTube issue. He wanted to position the Mac so everyone could watch YouTube videos with us DURING MY DINNER PARTY! Yikes!

We had a real "discussion" about this. He was dogged about how fun it would be, and I knew it wasn't just because he's an intractable e-teen. The truth is all the guys I'd invited in my age range ALSO would rather spend part of dinner sharing YouTube videos with all of us. I have to admit, he was right!

In fact, more and more, sharing YouTube's after dinner (or during) has become the fun thing to do, probably a bit like people in the early 1900's gathered around the player piano singing. It's funny, I can't think of anything in recent times that's similar in terms of a participatory social activity after dinner. Watching a rented video or TV is too passive to compare to the rollicking enthusiasm my guests have for showing me and others the funniest new YouTube. Maybe videogaming compares, but is mostly not a age-defying activity in most families, though the Wii is certainly challenging that.

But let's talk about the hardware -- we don't have the correct furniture around the laptop or PC that really let's you share YouTubes socially. We end up scrunching into the desk chair to watch, or handing the laptop around a circle of people. I guess it's time the Net took over the big screen and I know in many modern homes it has, but not in most. It seems these days that the Net is trying on hardware for size; one day it's jammed into a tiny handheld device screen, next evening it longs to be splashed across a big screen.

Maybe I need a dining room table with a screen at every place ... or maybe my plates need to be interactive. Yes that's the next big thing, an international merger of Lenox, Limoges and Linux.