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For centuries, people made their own entertainment, rather than passively absorbing it. The future is starting to look like the past.

A Landmark Moment: The Web Overtakes TV in Britain

Okay, it was a survey conducted for Google, but whatever the details, the finding that the average Briton spends around 164 minutes online every day, compared with 148 minutes watching television is a landmark.

The Google survey found surfers in London and Scotland are the country’s heaviest web users, spending more than three hours a day online. That was around 40 minutes more each day than those in the lowest category, the north-west of England.

It is a high water mark in the rise of the internet. It is little more than 10 years since the start of the dotcom revolution but already more than 1 billion people around the world are connected to the internet. Television, in contrast, took decades to reach a similar number of people.

It may well be that in a decade or so, kids will look back in wonder at that curious age of their parents and grandparents, when people spent hours and hours and hours sitting dumbly, blankly on the sofa, staring at a screen that was totally non-interactive! “Thoroughly unwicked man!” (Or whatever the slang of the day might be.)

Using the web is inevitably interactive and active, creative and constructive, unlike television viewing. In fact we are going back to an earlier age, to what has been historically “normal”. For centuries, people in their leisure time gathered around the piano, sang, played board games, and otherwise created their own fun. In online games, with blogs, with all of the new personal video and audio creation possibilities, that is what the Western world is starting to do again.

A landmark moment: the web overtakes TV.

Might be a good time to sell your shares in major entertainment companies…

About Natalie Bennett

Natalie blogs at Philobiblon, on books, history and all things feminist. In her public life she's the leader of the Green Party of England and Wales.

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