Monday, August 13, 2012

What does "radio" and "television" mean to you?

I was invited by eMail to join CBC's InCanada Panel, which included a series of questions. They asked about radio and television networks and my viewing/listening/reading habits.

I didn't know what to say as they didn't define the terms as clearly as I think they need to in order to get the information they need.

For instance, when asked about television I gave an estimate of video I watch on a television screen. Later questions spoke about viewing on set-top boxes, but included that as Internet which suggested the estimates I gave were wrong.

A few months ago we dropped Cable TV, with most of my viewing already being via DVD's, Netflix, or other online content. I purchased an ATSC tuner and aerial for a television we have upstairs, and other than the watching I did when I set it up I haven't watched it. That tuner sits there for that case when we might want to be watching something on a "live" broadcast (some emergency or event like we saw in Sept 11, 2001), but I doubt it will get much use.

Do I watch shows that are CBC content? The current show Rina and I are both watching together is Being Erica, which is CBC content we are watching via NetFlix. While we know the show is highly unlikely to get new episodes, we are thoroughly enjoying watching the already produced episodes. Is that something CBC was asking in their survey, or is that "internet" content that they don't consider to be related to their content?

I am a regular listener to the CBC shows The House and Spark, both automatically downloading the MP3 files via an RSS feed. I don't listen to either as over-the-air radio, but they are both "radio shows" aren't they? Or is that also not what CBC was talking about, and thus I should not have included those hours as radio listening?

If you exclude the content I access via the Internet or via non-broadcast means such as DVD's, I don't really watch TV or listen to Radio much at all. There is a radio in the car when I am riding with someone, but nearly all my transportation is via bus/train where I am listening to my own audio/video I've downloaded to my phone and/or tablet. On those infrequent occasions I'm in someone elses car (And I include Rina's car here), I am not the one who chooses the channel so is it even "my" listening at all?

Friday, August 10, 2012

Having no drivers license a source of pride

Yesterday I was called about a story a CBC Television journalist was doing on car-free living in Ottawa. This was a follow-up story sparked by Ottawa city Councillor Katherine Hobbs giving up her car after going car-free for a few months.

While my wife drives, so there is a car in the household, I do not drive it or have a drivers license. I consider myself as (or possibly more) car-free as those who don't have a car in the household, but who have memberships in car sharing services like Vrtucar. There will always be exceptions to the general rule for a car-free person, but we are all people who as a general rule don't drive.

When I was a teen in the 80's, it was a matter of laziness. I couldn't afford a car, and didn't have the motivation others did to get their drivers licenses anyway. I had a 365 (as they were called in Ontario in those days) learners permit a few times, but never bothered doing the driving test.

In the 1990's I met up with some more political folks, including a group called Auto-Free Ottawa. I was quite active with them, working to try with municipal and other levels of government to make car-free living easier in Ottawa.

In the 2000's AFO members had largely gone onto other things, myself included. We were active with the yearly Commuter Challenge, including hosting all software for many years. I also critiqued groups like Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) who wanted to increase taxes through increased subsidies to the automobile and taxpayer funded infrastructure to support the automobile. I always felt the CTF wasn't a taxpayers federation as much as they were a small group of ideologs who wanted government to focus government spending on their pet policies.

Most of my volunteer time these days is spent trying to protect the basic rights of technology owners, so I'm not active in car-free activism. That said, I realized how much pride I felt to be asked to be on this show. The journalist ended up interviewing cyclist Richard Briggs, but the initial conversation made me think about my car-free living.

Update: Councillor goes carless was the story.