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"What television does is rent us friends and relatives who are quite satisfactory. This is quite something, to rent artificial friends and relatives right inside the house."
- Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

Dimensino  
  An alien entertainment center that provides the ultimate in immersive experience.  

In the near-future of Time is the Simplest Thing interstellar explorers could project their minds to planets revolving around other stars. Upon their return, the travelers could bring back small samples or technological knowledge.

When this novel was written, there were fewer choices on television, and families were much more likely to watch a single television together - establishing the idea of an entertainment center in one room.

And there was dimensino, and entertainment medium that had replaced all the standard human entertainment -- the movies, radio and TV.

For in dimensino you did not merely see and hear; you participated. You became part of the portrayed situation. You identified yourself with one of the characters, or with more than one of them, and you lived out the action and the emotion. For a time you ceased to be yourself; you became the person of your choice in the drama dimensino created.

Almost every home had its dimensino room, rigged with the apparatus which picked up the weird, alien impulses that made you someone else -- that lifted you out of the commonplace, out of the humdrum rut of your ordinary life and sent you off on wild adventures or on strange assignments or pitched you headlong into exotic places and fantastic situations.

From Time is the Simplest Thing, by Clifford Simak.
Published by Doubleday in 1961
Additional resources -

I'm fascinated by Simak's grasp over what people really need from their entertainment; they want to be "hauled into" the story. When this novel was written, mass entertainment was a purely passive form of entertainment; you sat and you watched.

In today's world, we are accustomed to being pulled into the world of the story. In hands-on museums, we are encouraged to try an experiment for ourselves. In amusement parks, like Disney's Animal Kingdom, we are drawn into a story about the animals we are seeing, rather than just sitting and looking.

Finally, the Internet itself is an interactive medium; we look and we make choices constantly about what to see or do next. Recent research shows that, in some age groups, television is actually losing audience share to the Internet, as people choose to surf or shop - creating their own experience with their choices - rather than sit passively and watch.

Be sure to look at Ray Bradbury's parlor wall from Fahrenheit 451, a story about the perils of mass media that is perhaps too attractive.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Time is the Simplest Thing
  More Ideas and Technology by Clifford Simak
  Tech news articles related to Time is the Simplest Thing
  Tech news articles related to works by Clifford Simak

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