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Is there life after 50 at Digital Life?

by Jo Freeman

The second annual Digital Life show held in New York City the weekend of October 14-16 was aimed at the young and the hip with lots of new games filled with pseudo sex and violence. Not surprisingly, the almost 40,000 people who paid $15 each to gawk and sample "the latest in all things digital" were mostly young and predominantly male.

Cosmopolitan (the magazine) claims that 43% of all gamers are female, but you wouldn't know it to look at the people lining up to buy tickets, let alone play the new games. However the Cosmo lounge (co-hosted with Nintendo) featured guest appearances of the PMS Clan, a group of female gamers, and a other female celebrities better known to the younger generation.

Among the noise of the exhibit floor there were some items those of us who grew up before the computer revolution might actually like to have in our homes.

Big this year were media centers, with Microsoft staging a huge exhibit of its Windows XP Media Center software.  At Netgear you could learn the pros and cons of wired versus wireless (wifi) for all your home digital equipment and at Digital Deck you could buy the complete home entertainment system.

Actual computers were almost passé.  Only Toshiba and HP were showing off their latest models — tablets, which are laptops with screens that you can scribble on as well as type.  Portable devices of all sorts are also in.  Instead of lugging a laptop, you can put a portable hard drive into your pocket and transport all your programs and data between computers.

There's lots of new software for new uses.  After watching a demonstration of Photoshop Elements 4.0 I will never again believe a photograph is more accurate than a drawing.  Even men might ask directions of the handy GPS Navigation system with every location in the US and many abroad.  But they might not accessorize their portables with the stylish cases made for almost everything.  You could buy a Lala Laptop Bag in a variety of pastels and pretty, protective covers for your iPods.  Hi-tech has married high fashion as demonstrated by Casauri and Case Closed bags.

Now that computers are almost as common as telephones and microwaves, the push is on to put one into every room of the house, linked by ethernet cable or wifi, with a common storage device to hold documents, videos, music files and photos.  Check out the ones offered by Maxtor, Iomega and Buffalo Technology.

As proof that old technologies adapt rather than die, XM Satellite Radio was selling subscriptions.  Like cable, you get lots of programming and music choices without commercials, for a monthly fee.  Or you could trade in your old analog radio for the new digital versionsJohn Wiley and Sons was selling books – the old fashioned kind printed on paper that you don't read on a computer screen. Of course they were on hi-tech topics, including the For Dummies series which many of us run to when we can't figure it out.

In addition to the exhibits, there were lots of workshops and lectures.  Film/Video Art, a non-profit organization supporting independent filmmakers in NYC, taught anyone interested how to make digital films.  eBay University ran classes on selling and shopping on eBay.  There were sessions explaining HDTV, the difference between different types of cell phones, and finding the right digital camera.  One seminar even tried to answer that age old question "what do women want?"

(Editor's Note: The 2005 Women's Game Conference takes place October 26-27, 2005)


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