Being Digital by Nicholas Negroponte

By Nicholas Negroponte

In full of life, mordantly witty prose, Negroponte decodes the mysteries--and debunks the hype--surrounding bandwidth, multimedia, digital fact, and the net, and explains why such touted techniques because the fax and the CD-ROM tend to move the best way of the BetaMax. "Succinct and readable. . . . in the event you be afflicted by electronic nervousness . . . here's a publication that lays all of it out for you."--Newsday.

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I Ν6 The way to achieve massively high resolution tomorrow is to make the system scalable today which is exactly what none of the current proponents of digital TV systems are proposing at the moment. Odd. TV AS A T0LLB00TH All makers of computer hardware and software are courting the cable industry, which is not surprising when we consider that ESPN has more than 60 million subscribers. Microsoft, Silicon Graphics, Intel, IBM, Apple, DEC, and Hewlett-Packard have all entered major agreements with the cable industry.

Not only are they working on the wrong problem, high definition, they are taking all the other variables and treating them like the 110 volts of hair dryers. Arguments about "interlace" are a perfect example. TV is 30 frames per second. Each frame is composed of two socalled fields, each with half the scan lines (the odds and the evens). Therefore, a video frame is composed of two fields offset by one scan line and offset in time by one-sixtieth of a second. When you watch television, you are seeing 60 fields per second (so motion is smooth) "interlaced" together, but each field has only half of the picture.

This is not what the FCC originally had in mind when it recommended allocation of the new HDTV spectrum to existing broadcasters for transition purposes. Groups hankering to get into the bit radiation business will scream bloody murder when they realize that current TV stations just had their spectrum doubled and their broadcast capacity increased by 4 0 0 percent, at no cost, for the next fifteen years! Does that mean we should send in the Bit Police to make sure that this new spectrum and all of its 20 million bps are used only for HDTV?

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