Monday, January 18, 2010

Here and There

I may be in Florida this January, but for the past few days I've virtually been in Massachusetts. I'm obsessed with the special Senatorial election in the Bay State and have been following events avidly. While I couldn't literally attend the Scott Brown or Martha Coakley rallies yesterday, I did manage to see and hear the action through the wonders of modern technology.

This obviously doesn't come as a great revelation—with streaming video on the Internet, email, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and webcams, the world has become ever more accessible. Twenty-somethings understandably take this for granted, but I continue to be astounded by my ever-increasing ability to be there while I'm still here.

Just since 2005, when I began dividing my time between Boston and Miami, the ability to remain connected has grown exponentially. Early on, I discovered that I could listen live online to WBUR, Boston's public radio station. It was both eerie and satisfying to hear the Boston weather update—rain changing to sleet, high in the mid-thirties—while looking out my window at Biscayne Bay. However, most of the Boston radio stations didn't offer the "listen live" feature back in 2005, so I wasn't able to get the local sports talk on WEEI or hear Margery Eagan and Jim Braude discuss local issues on WTKK. As for television, while the local network affiliates had websites, their video feeds were terrible to non-existent.

All that has changed. Starting with NECN, the New England cable news channel, videos have improved dramatically. Yesterday, I was able to access the same political news reports seen in Boston not only from NECN, but also from the Boston ABC, NBC, and CBS affiliates. And most of the Boston radio stations now offer free "listen live" options. If I want to hear Howie Carr talk with listeners on WRKO, I can do that. Ditto for Dan Rea on WBZ.

Online news aggregators have also helped put news about the election at my fingertips. At RealClearPolitics, I get immediate access to articles about the contest from news sources all over the country, plus a link to the latest poll results.

At the rate things are going, it won't be long before 3D technology allows me to attend campaign events virtually and feel as if I'm right in the middle of the crowd. For now, though, I'm happy I can watch reporters dishing out local stories there in Boston from a thousand miles away here in Miami.


  1. I am interested in this race as well, even though I'm a New Yorker. Turns out Martha Coakley was one of my freshman advisees when I was a junior adviser (the name at Williams College for an RA). Back then, the student body was largely stoners, ultra-laid back. Without being at all uncool, Martha was striking for being lucid and upright, like the last tree standing in a flattened forest. If I lived in Massachusetts, she'd have my vote on the basis of her strong independent spirit alone.

  2. I also feel very happy watching the BBC, or even ITV on a large TV screen, thanks to a satellite dish that has been installed for us only on our condo's roof - it enables us to enjoy the same feeling of warmth while watching the snow drifts in Gloucestershire, or the congested M1 while basking in the Mediterranean light. The only thing it does not provide is the smell of fish and chips, and the taste of a pint of pale ale.... Technology does have its limitations....