Culture Clips: The Blow Out Those Virtual Candles Edition

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iphone birthday

If you’re reading this on an iPhone, pause a minute and wish your device a happy birthday. It officially turns 10 on June 29. (Well, not your phone, of course. If your phone is turning 10, you may want to look at your wireless contract.)

The original iPhone revolutionized the tech industry and transformed the way many of us lived. But for some, it was a difficult adjustment. Walt Mossberg, a tech reporter for The Wall Street Journal at the time, received a test model two weeks before the original iPhone was released to the public. “After three days, I was ready to throw this thing out of the window for trying to type on glass,” he told CBS News.

But even as Apple is poised to sell 200 million iPhones this year, is it possible the device might be around in another 10 years? The Wall Street Journal’s Christopher Mims says no. He says that “the suite of apps and services that is today centered around the physical iPhone will have migrated to other, more convenient and equally capable devices—a “body area network” of computers, batteries and sensors residing on our wrists, in our ears, on our faces and who knows where else.” Other experts agree. “You and I may still be using our iPhones, but my kids might be phone nevers,” Alex Kruglov, CEO for the SmileTime video chat website, told USA Today. “They’ll have some other device that is more utilitarian and a part of their body.”

The iPhone wasn’t the only cultural entity throwing itself a party this week. The first Harry Potter book—Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone—was released 20 years ago on June 26. Author J.K. Rowling marked the date with a tweet, telling her fans that “it’s been wonderful.” Time’s Sarah Begley opined as to why the series still holds up:

Like C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, she took inspiration from a wide range of sources: Christian theology, folklore, Greek and Shakespearean tragedy, Arthurian legend, Dickensian plotting and 20th-century history (especially the rise and fall of Hitler) all shaped the story of the Boy Who Lived. Yet these factors combined to create a work so original and iconic that it’s easy to see its influence on an entire generation of successors and imitators.

But the world in which Harry Potter and the iPhone first introduced themselves is rapidly changing. Amazon—which didn’t even exist when the iPhone first came out—just bought Whole Foods, sparking some concern as to whether the consumer-satisfying behemoth is getting too big. YouTube is pleading with advertisers to shrink their commercials from the standard 30 seconds to six seconds—and the Fox network seems to be OK with that.

Technological innovations are trickling into the shows we watch even while we’re watching them. Last week, Netflix released a new episode of The Adventures of Puss in Boots that boasted a strange twist: It allowed viewers—mostly children—to decide how the story would transpire. The episode offered a half-dozen prompts in the show, asking viewers to pick the way a story should go, via touchscreen (if the show’s being watched on a tablet or phone) or remote (if they’re watching the show on television). “The children’s programming space was a natural place for us to start since kids are eager to ‘play’ with their favorite characters and already inclined to tap, touch and swipe at screens,” said Carla Engelbrecht Fisher, Netflix’s director of product innovation, said in a blog post. “They also talk to their screens, as though the characters can hear them. Now, that conversation can be two-way.”

One thing that wouldn’t change, you’d think, is the old advertising adage that sex sells. Turns out, that might not even be true. Sure, folks might remember sexy ads more, according to a recent study, but that didn’t translate into more brand awareness and, most crucially, higher sales.

Teens also are apparently taking a more critical look at sex. A new report from the National Center for Health Statistics finds that just a little over 40% of boys and girls had sex by age 18—a massive decline from the 57% who reported the same back in 1988. And if teens do have sex, they almost always use contraceptives.

If more teens are quitting sex, celebrities are quitting other things. Miley Cyrus is still talking about why she quit using marijuana, Ted Nugent’s quitting “hateful rhetoric” (in the wake of a shooting in Washington D.C.), while legendary actor Daniel Day-Lewis is just plain quitting. Meanwhile, Friends star Courtney Cox says she wish she would’ve quit getting cosmetic surgery a little earlier. “I’ve had all my fillers dissolved,” she told New Beauty magazine. “I’m as natural as I can be. I feel better because I look like myself.”

Finally, for those who can’t quit their television habit—and, in fact, want to supersize it—have I got good (?) news for you. A company called C Seed is now offering a 262-inch television set. Oh, sure, it’ll set you back a cool $500,000, not to mention a $38,000 installation charge. But you’ll see six-second iPhone commercials in a bigger format than you ever imagined.

Who wrote this?

Paul Asay has been writing for Plugged In since 2007 and loves superheroes and finding God in unexpected places. In addition, Paul has also written several books, with his newest—Burning Bush 2.0—recently published by Abingdon Press. When Paul’s not reviewing movies, he hikes with his wife, Wendy, runs marathons with his grown kids, Colin and Emily, and beats back unruly houseplants. Follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.

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Martinned81 5 months ago
FYI, Amazon has been around since 1994...