The Tour de France is kicking off as a write this, and I've already settled in for extended periods of watching. One change for this year is that I can now follow it on my iPad, which is yet another progression in spectator technology. In the 1980's I followed via print media, in the late 90's by TV, then 10 years later on my laptop via things like Google Earth, and now via tablet computing. While it makes viewing easier, I wonder if it is actually taking me further away from the event. What I mean is that I am interacting with a model of the race, rather than the race itself. Of course this is also because I am here in Australia, rather than in Belgium (for the first three stages), and this is how information is being increasingly presented.
I've also noticed this starting to apply to chess tournaments as well. With the development of live game broadcasts there is a growing proportion of the chess public who think that presenting online games is the major function of a chess tournament. While it is something that adds value and publicity to an event, as a priority it still ranks below making the tournament a success for those who actually play or spectate in person. Indeed, if it was just about watching online, then I could organise a number of cheap tournaments, which entirely consisted of computer v computer games being shown on the web. But where would be the fun in that?