Aris Silzars Display Technology Consulting


The Display Continuum

A Quiet Walk on the Beach…

Cannon Beach

Tonight, I went for a walk on the beach. Sally was with me and we held hands as we walked. We talked some, but not all that much. The sun was setting and the ocean was calm. A few other people were out doing the same. But there was lots of empty space for everyone to enjoy, and the peaceful mood of the setting sun was in control. The summer evening was cool, as is usually the case on the Oregon Coast. The coastal mountains on the opposite side added a certain intimacy to the openness of the broad sandy beach. The various homes and lodges that populate this section of the coast were beginning to glow in the dusk. Driftwood fires and the people huddled around them added to the romantic mood. During our walk, for us, the world was at peace.

For these all too brief moments, there was no need or desire to check our cell phones for messages, no need to hurry back and catch up on the latest e-mails, no need to have an iPod blasting in our ears – no need at all for anything electronic.

In spite of what some folks think, we may be reaching our limits for how much information we can absorb – no matter how compellingly it is presented.

A few weeks ago, I visited the latest Seattle Street of Dreams. This is an annual event that consists of approximately half-dozen homes that are intended to feature the latest ideas in upscale living. Just a few years ago, the major innovation being promoted was the home theater. The concept was to create the ambiance of a movie theater but on a much smaller scale. These home theaters featured the latest in front projection technology along with line doublers to create projected images better than could be done with standard NTSC scan rates. Then a year or so ago, the first flat screen televisions made their appearance. They were prominently featured and were the centerpieces of these upper end homes.

Well, this year flat screen televisions were also in evidence – just about everywhere. In addition to the “normal” places one would expect to find them, they were in kitchens, laundry rooms, bedrooms, on outdoor patios, with some installations consisting of several placed next to each other. The home theaters were still just as prominent as ever, but now of course featuring HDTV-quality projection systems. The concept of “a” television for these homes seemed silly and quaint. The “new” concept is to have some form of video capability not only in every room but in every identifiable space where a family member might happen to spend even a few minutes during a day. The interesting question is, what will we find for content that is worth watching every minute of every day?

Personally, I am finding that over the last few years I have already begun to make a conversion of sorts. As I work on my computer during the day, each time I access the Internet, the home page shows me the latest developing world events. Occasionally, if something looks especially important, I will look up the details. Given this ongoing update on what is going on in the world, I no longer have the same desire or need to watch the evening news as I did a few years ago. I may still do it as a way to relax and hear the weather forecast, but that may not last much longer either.

There certainly are times when I want to be entertained, such as when I am stuck at an airport or have been on an airplane for so many hours that my brain can no longer do anything productive. There may be a few other times when we are just too tired to do useful work or are placed in a situation where there is nothing else to do except wait. That is when a portable entertainment or information appliance can be highly useful. On the other hand, some quiet time can be equally beneficial.

If we are continually bombarded with audio and visual inputs, when will we find time for creative contemplation? Those quiet walks on the beach will often turn out to be far more productive than responding to just one more e-mail or returning just one more cell-phone message. It is my prediction that what will evolve over the next few decades is a better balance between incessant activity and time to reflect. At least it will for those individuals who will become the creative leaders of the next generation. Those who get lost in the world of never-ending electronic stimulation will not be able to develop the creative thinking capabilities that will be needed to excel in the business world in the coming decades.

Display technology will play an important role in all this because, properly used, it will be an aid to efficient information access and information manipulation. That in turn will help to provide the optimal balance between information overload and creative contemplation. Therefore, please promise me that the next time you go for a walk on the beach you will leave your cell phone behind – as well as every other electronic gadget known to man and yet to be invented.

Then after you are feeling refreshed and revitalized, you may wish to contact me with your thoughts on the future of the information age. You can reach me from this site, directly by e-mail at, by fax at 425-898-1727, or by telephone at 425-898-9117.