Aside from the hotly contested battles among the candidates, the recently held automated elections here in the Philippines also featured an interesting sidelight: the ridiculous "hologram" war between the top television networks GMA7 and ABS-CBN during their equally intense poll coverage.
It was, in my view, a classic case of using technology for technology's sake. The showoff from both camps was utterly useless and did not enhance their coverage of a landmark event.
In its attempt to put one over its rival, GMA7 was the first to pull out its trick when news anchor Mike Enriquez talked to a "hologram" representation of GMANews.TV editor Howie Severino. (By the way, here's a disclosure: I'm a technology correspondent for GMANews.TV). The network then quickly billed the feat as the first in the country's broadcast industry.
On the other side of fence, ABS-CBN countered by introducing a video technology called "augmented reality" that somehow paled in comparison in the novelty department since GMA7 had already beaten them to the punch with its "hologram" stunt.
ABS-CBN then raised the inanity game by putting out a report that bluntly refuted GMA7's hologram technology. The Lopez-owned network's IT provider appeared on a report to say GMA7's hologram was not really a hologram in strict terms, since the image generated was not 3-dimensional and was merely produced using chroma key technology. (For a more exhaustive explanation of the technologies used by both networks, read local journalist Edwin Sallan's article.)
The move prompted GMA7 to backpedal a bit and examine the authenticity of its claim. Probably acknowledging the doubts cast on its technology, the broadcast firm subsequently resorted to using the term "hologram effect" instead of just "hologram".
But, whether or not it was a fake hologram didn't matter to me. It did not bring any added value at all, except perhaps for some points for visual effects.
If you ask me, I still prefer to see the reporter on his or her actual location instead of him or her hologram image being awkwardly interviewed in the studio.
Another annoying technology tool being perpetrated by the TV networks, and that includes PLDT-owned TV5, is their use of the Apple iPad and touchscreen LCD screens. With the way they're being presented on-cam, the news anchors are beginning to look like it's their first time seeing or using a touchscreen device.
With this misplaced use of technology, the networks are unwittingly attracting attention to themselves instead of to their delivery of the news--straight, and without fanfare.