Advanced English 高级英语 ( 8 )
Lesson Eight An Interactive Life
Background Information
The text is taken from American Newsweek. Newsweek is American news weekly established in Dayton, Ohio in 19
  33. In it domestic and international news is summarized, analyzed and categorized according to topics each week. It also has special sections devoted to arts, science, medicine, sports, etc. it is one of the three largest newsweeklies of America and has a wide domestic and international circulation. The authors of the text, Barbara Kantrowitz and Joshua Cooper Ramo are regular contributors to Newsweek.
General Idea Of The Text
An interactive life will put the world at your finger tips, changing the ways you shop, play and learn. The ultimate promise of the interactive life is that you will be able to get a large amount of information over a wide range of topics by pressing a button. The dreams are possible though there’s a dark side. The advice is “hang on for the ride”? wait for the future changes.

  1) Paragraphs 1-2: Introduction of interactive life a huge amount of information available to anyone at the touch of a button
  2) Paragraphs 3-18: description of interactive life A) difficult to understand because it’s still a long way B) four phases: fake interactive, true interactive, complete viewer control, and final frontier C) possible dreams because of large capacity chip, fibreoptic cables and digitalization D) dark side: no privacy, wide gap, considerable debate
  3) Paragraph 19: Suggestion hanging on for the ride
Detailed Study of the Text

  1. an Interactive Life: a life which acts reciprocally, mutually, receives and gives in return
  2. put the world at your fingertips: to become familiar with the world by using the tips of your fingers on computers; fingertip here has both a literal and a figurative meaning. Literally it means the tip of the finger on the computer while figuratively it means to be familiar with as in the phrase “have at one’s fingertips”.
It will put the world at your fingertips, changing the ways you shop, play and learn: This interactive life will familiarize you with the world, change the ways you shop, play and learn.
  1. Stepping into the past so as to understand the future

  3. To get an idea of what the future might bring, step into the past: In order to form a view of what will happen in the future, you need only to have a look at what happened in the past.
  4. In the decades represented by the display, the concept and purpose of sound recording changed dramatically: In the tens of years covered by the machines on exhibition, the idea and purpose of sound recording experienced great changes.

  5. Edison conceived of his phonograph as a business machine that would help people in distant places communicate: Edison designed and developed his sound recording machine as a working tool for people to talk to each other over long distance. conceive of ..(as): think of …(as), imagine…(as) e.g.
  1) It’s difficult to conceive of living without electricity.
  2) Can you conceive of the idea that she will marry him?
  3) I conceive of him as a happy person with lots of friends.
  4) In ancient times the world was conceived of as flat.

  6. He intended to record voices?nothing more: His only intention in inventing the machine was the recording of voices.
  7. His competitors envisioned the greater potential for entertainment and art: His business rivals, adversaries saw in their minds that there was great possibility of using the machine for entertainment and art. envision: picture in the mind. American English; envisage: see in the mind as a future possibility; foresee e.g. It should be quite simple; I don’t envisage /envision any difficulty.
envision doing/ that… e.g. When do you envision being able/ that you will be able to pay me back? potential: future possibility entertainment: amusement
  8. Where he saw internal memos, someone else saw Beethoven: He imagined that the machine could record informal communication between departments in a company but other people thought it could be used to record music. Edison applied the machine to business while others to a different thing, music?entertainment.
memo=memorandum (formal): a note from one person or office to another within the same firm or organization; a note of sth. to be remembered. e.g. I made a memo on my memo pad to buy more coffee. Beethoven: metonymy, referring to the music by Beethoven
  2. Definition of the interactive life

  9. Someday, there may well be a similar memorial… interactivity: At some future time it will be quite suitable to have a place like the Edison National Historical Site in memory of those who make the important advance recently in interactivity although it has not been able to do all the things the creators promised. memorial (to): sth. esp. a stone monument, in memory of a person, event, etc. e.g. a war memorial (=in memory of dead soldiers) a memorial sculpture. The church service is a memorial to those killed in the war.

  10. With so much big money and so many big dreams …to the hype: Since large sums of money have been spent on an idea which is mainly in the planning stage, since great hopes have been put on such idea, there certainly is a lot of exaggerated publicity. on the drawing board: in the planning stage; hype: (n.) (infml. often derog.) loud, exaggerated promotion or publicity; attempts to get a lot of public attention for things or people by saying loudly and often that they are very good, or better than they really are
e.g. media hype 传媒宣传 to hype (v.) hyping their latest record with a lot of interviews 借大量采访大肆宣传他们的最新唱片
  11. Simply put, the ultimate promise is this: a huge amount of information available to anyone at the touch of a button, everything from airline schedules to esoteric scientific journals to video versions of off-off-off Broadway. To put it in a simple way, the most wonderful thing is that if you press a button, you will be able to get a large amount of information over a wide range of topics,
from something common like airline schedules to something very professional like esoteric scientific journals to something untraditional like video versions of off-off-off Broadway. simply put: to express in a way that is easy to understand esoteric scientific journals: magazines on science written in such a way as to be understood only by a few who know the subject Broadway: New York City thoroughfare that traverses the length of Manhattan, near the middle of which are clustered the theatres that have long made it the foremost showcase of commercial stage entertainment in the United States. The term Broadway is virtually synonymous with American theatrical activity. Broadway gained its name as the axis of an important theatre district.
off-off-off Broadway: Shows that cannot make into Broadway are called "off Broadway." If a show is really bad, or really small in scale, it is even less than off Broadway show. Broadway shows are usually big budget productions with famous producers. Newer shows usually start as off Broadway, meaning that they are performed in some smaller theaters, usually in some other odd places like the village. Some of these off Broadway shows can become successful and eventually become a Broadway show, but mostly that never happens.

  12. At various points, … “Terminator XII”: At different places, you can turn on the device for other possible development of the story and offer your own variation. Terminator XII: an American science fiction movie series, starring the popular actor, Arnold Schwarzengger. The number XII implies a future installment of the series.

  13. Say you shoot … a fee for watching: For example, you film a video which you think has special artistic pretensions or quality. Send out the video and ask those who have watched it to pay a fee. In this way you can make quite a sum of money.
  14. Peter Jennings would be obsolete: There is no longer any need for news anchorman because anyone can record news with a video-camera and put it on the universal network for everybody else to see obsolete: no long used; out of date e.g. obsolete machine, obsolete idea

  15. On the receiving end, the era of the no-brainer will have finally arrived: For viewers, the time of no need to bother about the selection of programmes will have finally arrived. on the receiving end: for those who are the viewers. the era of the no-brainer: the period of no need to bother about the selection of programmes. to be programmed: to furnish the computer with a planned sequence of operations to be performed
  3. A hard time

  16. Sounds great in theory, but even the truest believers have a hard time … actually work: In theory the whole idea seems wonderful but even for those who firmly believe in this, it is difficult to work out the details of how it will actually function. come to: concern e.g. When it comes to politics/ to repairing cars, I know nothing. nailing down: making sure, settling specifics: details, particulars
to nail sb. down: to force (a person) to state clearly their intention or wishes. e.g. Before they repair the car, nail them down to a price.(=make them tell how much it will cost). to nail sth. up: If you nail sth. up, you fix it to a vertical surface using nails. e.g. the warning notice that he had nailed up on the pole

  17. How will we negotiate such a mass … to sleep?: How shall we handle and manage such a large quantity of data and still have time to sleep? negotiate: infml. to succeed in dealing with or getting past (sth. difficult); succeed in crossing, surmounting, moving through, overcoming 成功地 应付; 成功地经过或善于对付: e.g. negotiate a sharp curve 转过一个大急转弯 to negotiate a steep hill/ sharp bend in one’s car mass: a large quantity or number

  18. Will government regulate messages sent out on this vast data highway?: Will government formulate regulations to control and govern the kind and number of communications sent out over the numerous channels? data highway: the authors are comparing the transmission in the air to a busy highway and information, data travels along the highway. This is a vivid metaphor.

  19. And frankly, what do we need all this stuff for anyway?: This is no longer a question on specifics. It inquires/makes a search, investigate into the usefulness and ultimate purpose of such an idea. what for: why
  4. near future life

  20. “We’re a long way from ‘Wild Palms’: There is still great distance before we can reach the stage as depicted in the TV series “Wild Palms.” Supplementary: “Wild Palms” is a TV miniseries directed by Oliver Stone. It was released in 19
  93. It is a science fiction: Los Angeles in the near future, Harry Wykoff accepts a job as presidents of a gigantic TV company. He is confronted with a total new
technology called "The New Reality" where three-dimensional TV animated pictures are projected in living rooms all around the world. Harry launches to the top of the company with his career but once there he is caught in a web of intrigues, betrayal and murder. A game of life and death begins…

  21. But even if the techno-chaos … within a year or two: But even if we are still far away from the technological disorder of that highly imaginative TV series, some consumers may actually find that their relationships with their TVs, telephones and computers will develop to a higher order within a year or two. techno-chaos: technological disorder or confusion futuristic: dealing with the future, esp. by imagining what may happen then e.g. She writes futuristic novels about voyages to distant galaxies.
the futuristic fantasy: highly imaginative TV series, with stress on the speed, flux and violence of the machine age The futuristic fantasy mini-series refer to “Wild Palm.”
  22. Instead of playing rented tapes on their VCRs, …. on the TV. : If you want to see a film, you don’t need to rent a tape and play it on your VCR. Instead, you may pick one from the catalog shown on the TV and phone the library (of thousand movies ) to have it beamed to you.

  23. Game fanatics may be able to do the same … shoot ‘em-ups: Those who are obsessed /absorbed in video games may do it in the same way by contacting another electronic library which has a large number of video tapes recording the actual shootings and killings seen in video game shops. fanatic: (n.) often derog. a person who shows very great and often unreasoning keenness for sth. esp. for a religious or political belief
e.g. a health food fanatic The heathen temple was torn down by a crowd of religious fanatics. realistic: (of art or lit.) showing or describing things as they really are 真人真事 e.g. a realistic drawing of a horse arcade: (连拱廊商店)a roofed passageway esp. one with shops on either side; a covered passage, esp. one with a roof supported by arches or with a row of shops on one or both sides; a place full of machines which spin numbers or with which one can play games after putting coins into them. In the text it refers to an amusement center having coin-operated games; a video arcade.
shoot-‘em-up: a movie or television show featuring much physical violence, esp. shooting and killing
  24. Instead of flipping through the pages… the latest gear: Those who want to do shopping at home do



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