Wednesday, May 23, 2012
In today’s edition of The New York Times, the obituary for Eugene T. Polley, inventor of the TV remote, contains an implicit message that in the wake of generational and technological change, a careful writer must remember (as did the obit writer in this instance) that references to knowledge an earlier generation takes for granted might, if not put in context, leave succeeding generations puzzled:
Flash-Matic made the TV audience less captive, though also less active. For the first time, viewers could comfortably exercise dominion over sound and image without simultaneously exercising the body on the march between couch and dial.Which reminds me . . . . time once again to watch Alfred Hitchcock’s classic crime thriller, “double-click M for Murder” — or is it “text M for Murder”? I can never remember, what with things changing so quickly.
(The “dial” was a round thing with numbers on it — all the way up to 13 — by which viewers changed the channel through the direct application of fingers and wrist. One did not so much surf channels in those days as ride their gentle swells with all due deliberateness.)