Monday, 26 January 2015

Never heard of texting, only teletexting.

Teletext was one of my best friends as a kid when boredom set in. Most people chose the radio, I went for the pixelated information behemoth. Okay, I might have overdone it a touch there, the information available was a drop in the ocean when you compare it to the world wide web. Will today's generation look back on the Internet with similar fuzzy feelings of nostalgia? I guess it depends on what comes next, if indeed the Internet isn't the pinnacle of info-sharing.

I predict a post-fetal, pre-birth brain implant that allows us to gorge on as much information we need without ever needing to handle a mouse or inconvenience the tops of our laps ever again, it'll all be stored in a nano-chip with near-infinite storage space. Given that the brain will be ultra-vulnerable at this embryonic stage, surgery will be too invasive and risky....the chip will be implanted by Dennis Quaid clones on a nano-vessel a la 'Innerspace'. These 'pilots' will be the hero's of the 23rd century. Their completely dispensable bravery, ridding the world of painful anomalies such as Joey Essex or Stacey Solomon. The technology will have it's drawbacks however, requiring us to work as we sleep, in order to pay for it all. Over time, our sub-conscious work becomes more efficient, accurate and diligent than our actual-life work, which our governments soon take notice of and begin the abolition of "awake-time", brainwashing us all into believing that we'd all be better off living in pods full a pink gunk, no need for expensive authorities such as 'thought-police' then either. Think of it as a sequel to '1984' or a prequel to 'The Matrix' before we're all saved by "Neo" and his merry men.....and woman. I always prefered Cypher's "ignorance is bliss" notion myself......screw you Neo you f**king jobsworth!


I'd say roughly 85.6 percent of what I know or understand to be true or false, came from reading the beautiful parallel worlds of Ceefax and Oracle (how did they fit her and Rusty Lee into my TV?!). The other 18.8 percent is just white noise....I also should have spent more time doing maths revision instead of constantly checking page 301 for the latest sports headlines. What Teletext offered me was a direct source of entertainment and a sensible amount of content. The Internet simply offers way too much, we're not ready for that much information, especially when so much of it is unreliable.

Is having too much information a good thing? Surely it's better to have too much than too little, right? How much music do we have on our phones or mp3 players that we're not that keen on? How much time do we spend skipping tracks or trawling the internet until we settle on something that we like or want to read? Technology is supposed to free up our time but it feels like we have less time than ever. Too much choice is a hindrance and invokes procrastination.....certainly in my case. The internet also fuels a disproportionate sense within me that I'm missing out and that life is passing me by somehow. Either this is indeed the case or we're all missing out on something, I suspect I've got everything I need but this nagging feeling comes from outside influences.

As much as I'm fond of the memories and partisanly crank up the nostalgia of charming, yet fantastically flawed media formats, if you took away my broadband connection and sent me back to the days of waiting for a counter to go round and load your page like a digital combination lock that would sometimes bypass your page number completely due to aerial interference and maybe a little drizzle, I'd soon be begging for modern technology.....not dial-up though, that was the proverbial 'getting worse before it gets better' shit-storm. 

If the story you wanted to read was 3 pages long, the pages would change on it's own accord, usually when you still had a paragraph of the page left to read. You now had a choice, whether to carry on regardless and hope the information you missed wasn't significant, or wait until page 1/3 to come back round whilst ignoring 2/3 and 3/3, before speeding up your reading. Typically, if you read a page fast, you'd end up twiddling your thumbs waiting for page 2 to pop up, which would sometimes induce you into a mild attention deficit coma which you'd only wake up from when page 3 flashed up (no, not that page 3, there was no porn on Teletext, if 8-bit porn gets you off, you have serious issues). It was all a bit frustrating. I must have spent at least half of my childhood at the mercy of Teletext and my Spectrum 48k....buffer-face isn't a modern phenomenon.

I first learned of a young snooker player called Ronnie O'Sullivan on the 'General Sport' page of Ceefax, I feel like I knew about him before anyone else. You had a section where you could put up an advertisement to find a long-lost friend, which probably abused in a similar way to how people allegedly use Facebook to stalk someone nowadays. Horoscopes were a daily read, which might indicate how little there was available.  I would watch the football scores on Teletext (live football was barely conceivable back then), the only change occurring when a goal was scored or if there was a red-card. I used to make sure my calculator watch was a totally reliable timepiece by synchronising it with 'Teletext-time'.....my god, I was a lonely soul.....not alot has changed actually, only the crushing momentum of progress, wrenching Teletext from my life. That, along with Tesco ceasing to sell my favourite jam, has brought on yet more misanthropic angst. Childhood just doesn't prepare you for these difficult moments.

Top 40 (the charts, remember that?), the legendary Bamboozle quiz page (when you got to use the mysterious 'Reveal' button on your 'break-your-toe-heavy', monolithic TV remote.....it was as exciting as it got, back in 1988) , News headlines, weather maps, TV listings....whatever the page, I knew the number. Call me sad, go on! I bet you'd have been the same if you were old enough to be a teletext twat like me. If you're old enough and weren't a kindred Teletext nerd, then you obviously got out of the house more often than me, the joke's on you my friend.

The strange thing is, looking back, I never once felt like I was missing out, that maybe something better might come along, how wrong I was eh.  It might have been a bit naff, too slow or too fast, only offering a limited spectrum of around 8 garish colours and it lacked the mind boggling choice we have today....but I've decided that it holds a special place in my heart. Judging by the amount of websites around the world that stream news via the Teletext medium, I'm not the only saddo left.

It's for that reason that I decided I wanted a Teletext theme for the blog. I was at a loss until I came across a blog on Tumblr by Dan Farrimond (http://teletextart.tumblr.com/). I immediately contacted him via his website (http://illarterate.co.uk/) and contacted him about possibly doing a logo for my ugly, uninspiring looking blog page. I couldn't believe how quickly he did it and the quality was superb, exactly what I had envisaged. He's very passionate about all this geekery, if you'd like to read a bit more about him and his work, click on the link below for a quick Q&A......just ignore my comments, it'll only ruin it for you. :)



1 comment:

  1. I'd like to say I want teletext to overtake the internet again, but where would I get blogs like this? Unless I persuaded them to give us some space on some obscure cable channel... *everyone* would have their own teletext services.

    I keep trying to get Bay TV to buy up some sort of teletext service, but they refuse to return my emails. Wonder why? :P

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