Monday, January 3, 2011

The New Year Dawns

Late last week, the appearance of grey fog at dawn signaled the arrival of warmer temperatures.

At the edge of a ribbon of ice that had formed along the banks of the Credit River, I noticed a small flock of Canadian Geese had gathered for an early morning swim. The murky grey water must have been bitter cold, but they didn't seem to mind.

When the dogs and I walked through the garden, I saw that long slivers of ice crystals, like hundreds of sharp thorns had formed on the bare branches and the needles of our pine tree.

Rain followed the morning fog and then on new year's day, the greater Toronto area enjoyed record breaking mild temperatures (a balmy 12 degrees Celsius). Winter is definitely off to an odd beginning here in Ontario!

More predictably, store flyers once filled with Christmas items have given way to ads for the storage bins and exercise equipment needed for us all to cope with seasonal excesses. 

I, for one, am glad to see that the red, pink and white poinsettias which, only last week, lined store shelves have been replaced with exotic orchids and cheerful pots of spring bulbs.

We tend to think of the new year not only as a time for fresh starts, but also a time to reflect back on the year that was. For my family, it was a year of many changes. Even our everyday habits seemed to shift.

For one thing, we pretty much stopped watching television. Now, before you congratulate me on all the new found hours we must have gained, let me explain we replaced watching the television with watching the computer.

We discovered, somewhat by accident, that most of the major Canadian television networks like the CBC, Global TV and CTV offer many of their best television shows through their websites (I am sure American networks are probably the same). A little web surfing also reveals other website that offer archival television programs. Not very show can be found on the internet but there are plenty enough to keep you watching.

Advantages of watching the computer/internet? We have discovered there are many. 

Few commercials (for now anyway). 
The freedom to watch the show you want to see when you see it (home rule is a luxury not to be underestimated). 
The liberty to watch a series in the order and without mid-season repetitions.

Disadvantages? Well, there is one major one. We now download up to 60 GB a month and have had to adjust our high speed internet service accordingly. Considering the advantages, we now choose the better internet service over traditional cable television. I am not advocating that watching the internet is for everyone, but for us it works.

Television is not the only traditional media that seems to be effected by the internet. 

Though readers have giving magazines like Ontario Gardener negative feedback on going digital with the magazine, I personally think that digital media is still going to have a big impact on the world of magazines of all types in the next few years.

In the home decor category of Canadian magazines, House and Home now offers its readers the option of a digital version of the magazine. They also have an online video show with house tours, decorating tips and creative projects. I only wish there was an equivalent for garden enthusiasts that offered online shows with garden tours and plant tips.

The internet seems to have also influenced the way in which books are published. Just last week, I listened with interest to a podcast of Shelia Roger's conversation with author Terry Fallis on CBC Radio's the Next Chapter. When he was unable to interest a publisher in his novel "The Best Laid Plans", Terry Fallis began podcasting chapters of his book on the internet.

The book was later picked up by publisher McClelland & Stewart and has since been named by CBC's Canada Reads as one of the Top 10 Essential Canadian Novels of the Decade.

You don't need a crystal ball to predict that with the arrival of new digital readers, traditional print media will continue to evolve and change rapidly in the coming years. I am not sure that I believe that traditional books will disappear any time soon but I do think that e-readers will have as big an impact on the world of publishing.

Weigh in on this issue. How is the internet effecting your habits? Do you think print books and magazines will go the way of the dodo?


  1. An interesting twist your post took! I was completely captivated by the first photo and now find myself thinking about my Kindle! I'm a book lover - the colors, art on the covers, the smell of get the picture. But, I do love my Kindle. I've had one for over two years and it has been a nice addition to the family. I still buy some books but there are some pluses to the usability of the Kindle too.

    Also, the ice thorns are amazing...loved, loved your photos!

  2. I loved seeing your post morph from serene moody blues to exciting red and magenta, and then go off into agitated musings on the future of how we consume media (a topic I am endlessly fascinated with as all of publishing and broadcasting is being reinvented rapidly into something else).

  3. Great post! I have that computer (isn't it wonderful?? :-) and I find I 'watch' the mac almost as often as I do the t.v. I feel that printed books will always have a place in our lives. I know I'm in the minority, but I like the tactile feel of pages in my hands. I'm not as thrilled with the Kindle. I pray that magazines will find a way to re-invent themselves. But, I sincerely hope that printed catalogs disappear quickly. That deluge around the holidays drives me nuts. Geez sorry this comment got so wordy... but no trees were destroyed in the typing of it! Hee hee

    Happy New Year!

  4. What beautiful frosty images of the ice crystals. Thank goodness for lovely indoor plants this time of the year. I fear for magazines too but for myself I would much rather set down with a magazine that dealing with a computer version. I am excited that Ohio is getting a new Gardening magazine up in print and I am hoping it will be interesting and informative.
    Have a wonderful week.

  5. I too watch TV on the computer sometimes for the reasons you mentioned. I have a Mac too and my monitor is bigger than my flat screen TV, so that is another reason for me. Good post and I like your snowy photos too.

  6. Nice winter photos! Your computer is just like mine.

  7. Jennifer, I love your photos of all of the frosty stuff! My husband watches tv on his computer all the time. I'm afraid I am more addicted to the big screen and specific shows that I watch each night.

    I still like my magazines to be tactile, turning pages, etc.


  8. You have taken some beautiful photos I love the ice crystals . It was certainly a mild New Years I enjoyed the break from winter. I so agree that printed materials and TV watching is changing..still love to hold a book but will consider a reader once prices come down on them and the downloads... I too find my computer use up but more from using Skype.

  9. The winter scene photos are awesome and incrementally morphing into hot red images is brilliant.

  10. When we moved across country not too long ago we had only a truck and a trailer to move all our worldly possessions. Tough choices had to be made. The tv was sold and boxes of books were packed up and put in the trailer. I cannot imagine a world without books or magazines (whatever would I read when the power goes out?!)

  11. Happy New Year Jennifer. Your photos are just beautiful. I'm happy to see orchids replace poinsettias too. :-)
    As far as the Internet versus print media, I hope and pray print media never goes away completely (since I work in that industry). I know I still find it totally enjoyable to flip thru a magazine and it's a nice break from looking at my computer screen so much. Printed material is easier on my eyes for some reason too. I understand the reasons you watch your computer instead tho.
    btw, thank you so much for your comment on my kestrel post. It really touched me.


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