Viewfinder: Palm-top Video

Fascination with personal digital assistants (PDAs) is on the rise. The numbers prove it. Ownership of models like the Palm, Handspring and Pocket PC will increase to 9.6 million this year, according to the Consumer Electronics Association.

Where will this momentum take us, especially when your PDA becomes an HDTV camcorder?

Absurd? Remember, today’s DV camcorders are one-tenth the size of the video cameras and portable VCRs popular when Videomaker began some 15 years ago. Modern DV camcorders are not only smaller, but they produce a far superior quality image.

Very soon, I envision everyone carrying one. Let me predict what impact the PDA camcorder and a new generation of videographers will have upon society.

When PDA camcorders become available, recording video will become ubiquitous. People will store their PDA camcorders on the dashboard of their automobiles; suddenly everyone will have the equivalent of a police-cam. A recording will be made of every motor vehicle accident. A dashboard cam could be used to record a trip to a destination; then this footage could be used to give driving directions to someone.

Any location would be a potential setting for a reality-based TV show. Your place of work, your bowling league, your local PTA meetings and even your local bar are possibilities.

Who knows, maybe one day PDA camcorders will affect TV shows like Survivor, Temptation Island and MTV’s Real World, which have no scriptwriters, no rehearsals, few sets (if any) and minimal directorial responsibilities. As the reality TV show audience grows, we will continue to see a proliferation of programs in this genre. People like you may even produce some of them.

Countless unlikely events will wind up captured live on video. TV will show us a man meeting his long lost father while buying a hot dog from him in Manhattan. We will see a dog miraculously saving the lives of 30 school children in a bus.

We could also regularly view real miracles (things that are supposedly not possible). This would benefit both those who already believe that God is present in people’s lives and those who doubt God’s handiwork.

Sadly, ever-present camcorder PDAs will also capture tragedies such as post office and school rampages, suicides and industrial accidents.

On the other end of the spectrum, nearly all groin injuries will be captured on video where they could garner laughs on a Favorite Home Videos TV show.

Wedding videographers need not worry about these ubiquitous devices. While camcorder PDAs in every palm would capture dozens of camera angles, more time editing would be required due to a substantial increase in the amount of captured video.

Finally, I predict the recording of lots of positive things. We all have heard about "random acts of kindness," when people do things out of the goodness of their hearts. I imagine an entire genre of reality-based TV shows where "kindness segments" are featured every day.

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