There used to be this phrase, "Watercooler TV." It described that special kind of show that everyone watched, say on a Wednesday night, then gathered around the office Watercooler on Thursday morning to share opinions, reflections and gossip.
Well, the PVR and YouTube have essentially obliterated the collective "same Bat-time, same Bat-channel" TV viewing experience while the blogosphere, MySpace and Facebook have become the places to gather for community chit-chat.
Yet the Watercooler has retained its importance, albeit with a different missive. No longer is it the social gathering spot for review, but for preview. To wit, it's where the young, whip-smart denizens of Airborne Entertainment hang out to tell tales of cool things they have discovered.
On Friday alone I learned about Microsoft's PhotoSynth data app (which can assemble your vacation snapshots into a David Hockney-like, multi-imaged panorama), its Google Earth-battling Virtual Earth 3D, the survive-on-less-sleep pill called Modafinil, and listened in on discussions about Parkour and Heelys. All this while waiting for my coffee to brew.
Watercooler Talk 1.0 was "outside-in," where a common, mass-market theme was distilled and shared amongst the few. Watercooler Talk 2.0 is "inside-out," where new ideas are exposed by the few, then disseminated and spread to a mass market. (A perfect fit at Airborne, where we've been discussing the benefits of "Work Less; Think More, Listen More, Talk More.")
Gotta hand it to the old H20-head. While most of its ultra-analog brethren have been relegated to antique shops or tossed onto this nostalgia pile, the Watercooler has become even "cooler" still, reinventing itself for the digital age. It may masquerade as a liquid dispenser, but it's more substantive role is that of a Fountain of Surprise.