Maybe the Phrase 'On the Air' No Longer Makes Sense

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Susan Orlean tucks a brilliant little bit of technological criticism into her piece on watching the State of the Union address while tweeting.

I've missed that kind of television togetherness, which has largely vanished in the era of DVRs and video on demand; even if you're watching something that a friend is watching, too, there's a very good chance you've time-shifted it to whatever's convenient rather than when it was on the air. That makes me think we ought to change the expression "on the air" to "in the air," since so much of what comes through our televisions these days is hovering rather than streaming, just hanging there until we beckon it, rather than it commanding us to come to the living room and take a seat.

Read the full story at the New Yorker.

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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science website in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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