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PC Weds TV? Expect a Long Engagement

ANAHEIM, CA--Will the PC and the TV evolve into a single information appliance sometime in the future? Probably not, according to a panel today at the Western Cable Show.

"You could combine a word processor with a food processor and eat your words, I suppose," said Brian Ferren, executive vice president for Walt Disney Imagineering. "But I think the idea of one standardized appliance is nonsense."

Panelists agreed, however, that before future technologists even think about creating such combination appliances, there are many evolutionary stages.

The arrival of broadband applications will change the info landscape, according to TCI chair John Malone. "The first applications using broadband technology will allow users to come home. Instead of going to the Internet and getting a sports score, you'll be able to get the actual clips from the game," said Malone.

The key to creating successful future technologies will lie in adding value to people's two most valuable possessions--time and money," said Ferren. "Meeting those two criteria will be crucial. Future technologies will give users more choices than ever before. That means that selectivity will become increasingly important."

"Interactive programming and now video-on-demand will also create more choices," added Malone. The key is to provide choice on a cost-effective basis. "Nirvana would be random-access choice, but how the heck would you know what was out there? That's where the intelligent agents come in," said Malone.

But no matter how advanced technology becomes, there will always be a place for more traditional media. "Books aren't going to go away," said Ferren "[A book is] an aesthetic and joyful object. The important thing to remember is that to be human you have to leave your home sometimes."