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How the Web changed my content consumption

The Web is changing the way Don Reisinger consumes entertainment. And he's happy about it.

Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
5 min read

For the past few weeks, I've kept a log of all the activities I've engaged in to see how the Web is impacting my life--at least when it comes to my consumption of media. But before I get into my findings, I should first offer some perspective. Years ago, before the days of Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and others, I was a book and movie fanatic. I would read any book you put in front of me, and any time I had the chance to watch a film, I took it. The same was true with gaming. At times, I would play a game for an entire afternoon, take a break for a while to watch a TV show or movie, and go back to that game after dinner. I was an entertainment nut. I did everything I could to find out about new books, shows, movies, or games, and spent much of my time enjoying them.

But media technology has changed and so has my consumption of it. The Web now consumes my life. How much? The log I've kept over the past few weeks shows it, in minute-by-minute detail.

Twitter versus Jack Bauer
I was shocked by how much time I spend on Twitter each day. Over the past three and a half weeks, I've averaged well over two hours every weekday reading posts by followers, updating my own Twitter stream, and searching through hashtags to find interesting topics of conversation.

Each night, right after dinner, I've found that I go back into my office and peruse Twitter for at least 30 minutes. I update my stream, see what others are saying, and have conversations.

In its wake, I've left shows I enjoy, like 24 behind. There was a time when I wouldn't miss an episode of the popular Fox show, but now, I'd rather be on Twitter reading about it than watching.

There was a time when I had at least two television series to watch each night. Today, I watch just one show consistently: Battlestar Galactica. Other than that, I'll watch a series when I want to step away from the computer, but frankly, it doesn't happen often.

Weekends are different. I don't spend nearly as much time on Twitter each weekend and I found that on average, I spend just 30 minutes each day on the microblog and tend to update my stream less often on Saturday and Sunday. What am I doing instead? Spending time with my wife.

Read and watch online
I don't know why I bought my HDTV. There once was a time when I convinced myself that by buying an HDTV, I would use it more often and enjoy more television. That never happened. I have a 50-inch plasma sitting in my living room begging someone to turn it on.

Sure, I watch Battlestar Galactica whenever I can. But when I watch it, I do so on Hulu. The same is true for The Office and 30 Rock.

Now, that doesn't mean I never watch those shows on TV, but more often than not, I've found that I'm tied up in something on the Web and missed a show when it originally aired. But I don't panic, I simply wait until the next day and watch it online.

Although some hate the experience of watching films or television shows online, I'm not one of them. I think it's an ideal way to watch shows, since commercials are practically non-existent and the quality of the video is outstanding. Even better, I can switch over to Twitter during ad breaks to tell my followers what I think of the show.

Overall, I average about one hour per weekday watching online videos and about two hours per day on weekends.

Read? Paper? Huh?
I love to read. I used to do it all the time. But today, I hardly ever read books.

Instead, I use the Web for all my reading needs. I've hit a point in my life when I'm very interested in current world events, and what better way to stay up on that than with the help of online news sites and direct sources like Congress.gov that provide outstanding information on all the issues facing the U.S.? On average, I spend about two hours each weekday reading the news and perusing different sites that take an in-depth look into current events.

There is one caveat that I should mention: I subscribe to The New York Post, a prominent New York City newspaper. Even though it's available for free online, I love reading the Post each day in my recliner because it gives me a chance to step away from the computer for a while. Oh, and the Yankees coverage is outstanding. For me, that's a major selling point.

The scorecard
The bottom line is this: The Web consumes most of my media time, or by some accounting most of my time overall. Based on my logs, I spend (on average) seven to eight hours per weekday on the Web just reading the news, trying out different Web services, and talking to friends on social networks. During the weekends, that number drops to about three hours per day.

Meanwhile, I spend less than two hours watching television each week and average just over one movie screening per week. I haven't finished a book from cover to cover in well over three months. I play video games often because it's part of my job, but I've noticed that my average of about one hour of gaming per day has declined a bit over the past couple weeks.

So am I a Web addict and has it changed the way I consume entertainment? Yes and yes. As much as I would like to watch more movies and enjoy more television shows, I won't because I've found more value online. Maybe I'm the exception instead of the norm, but there's nothing about the fact that the Web has changed the way I live my life that feels abnormal to me at all.