Wired Pursuits

Archive for December 2007

So I’m still on the TV/Web kick.  I find so many similarities between these two mediums. So here’s a test. Below are 7 quotes.  Can you identify which refer to TV and which to the web?  (Note I have eliminated words that would make this too easy.)

  1. “… has transformed the political life of the nation, has cha­nged the daily habits of our people, has molded the style of the generation, made overnight global phenomena out of local happenings, redirected the flow of information. In other words it has profoundly affected what we call the process of socialization…”
  2. “… isolates people from the environment, from each other, and from their own senses.”
  3. “… should be the last mass communication medium to be naively designed and put into the world without a surgeon-general’s warning.”
  4. “… enables you to be entertained in your home by people you wouldn’t have in your home.”
  5. “… is simultaneously blamed, often by the same people, for worsening the world and for being powerless to change it.”
  6. “… is an anesthetic for the pain of the modern world.”
  7. “…is the greatest single achievement in communication that anybody or any area of the world has ever known.”

So how did you do?   Amazingly all the quotes above were made in reference to television.

  1. George Gerbner, Dean of Annenberg School of Communications, University of Pennsylvania, 1968.
  2. Jerry Mander, Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television, 1978.
  3. Alan Kay
  4. David Frost
  5. Clive James
  6. Astrid Alauda
  7. Hubert Humphrey, 1961.

Do current TV trends give us insight into the future of the web?  If you follow the evolution of TV, it’s quite striking how similar it is to what’s happening with the web.  Below is a quick journey through TV’s evolution. Read it once, then go back and read it again thinking about the web. 

Wow that’s cool.

­When TV first hit the airwaves there were few working channels.  You had limited choices but that was ok since the whole thing was so novel.  You waited until your favorite show came around, then turned on the set to watch. When it was over, you went back to other interests.  You didn’t have anything to compare it to so what you got was ok by you.  And advertisers had yet to realize the potential of this new medium.

More options please.

Soon the novelty of TV starts to wear off.  Viewers began demanding more choices in programming.  Production quality starts to get better and color and special effects are introduced – all in an effort to keep viewer’s attention.   Networks introduce different formats – talk shows that feature celebrities, full-length news features, and game shows – all catering to the different needs and desires of viewers.

Some shows get their audiences directly involved.  Their programs tap into the collective intelligence (or in some cases ignorance) of their viewers.  The audience is actually contributing content to the broadcast.  It more interactive, engaging, and feels more genuine.

Give me what I want when I want it.

Programming explodes as more and more people have access to cable.  There are hundreds (I personally have over 800) of channels.  Some channels are dedicated to very specialized interests – The Military Channel, The Food Network, Home Shopping Network, SciFi, even the Global Catholic Network.  It’s less about general information and more about appealing to specific interests.

Give me control.

Today, TV is entering an era where it’s not just about having choices.  Now, viewers want to control the outcomes of the programs they watch.  New shows like American Idol, Beauty and the Geek, and So You Think You Can Dance, let viewers vote to determine who wins.  It’s the hottest trend.  Why?  Because viewers no longer want to be passive observers, they want control.  They want it their way.

Sound familiar?

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