Interactivity And The Vice Presidential Debate

I am squeamish when it comes to competitive conflict -- especially when the stakes are high. I am the person who can't watch playoff games, the Olympics, or debates. I watched almost all of the 2008 Olympics from my DVR. Why? Because the thought of not knowing if Michael Phelps won was too much for me to handle. So last night, knowing what was at stake, I chose to have dinner with a dear friend and set the DVR to record the debate. The one wrinkle in my plan: I never considered that the restaurant would have a TV.

Nonetheless, what proceeded to unfold was truly exceptional. For the first time that I can recall, I saw people grouped together, watching a television program and interacting -- not only with each other, but with the content, as the "story" of these two adversaries unfolded before them.

Understand, we were in a higher-end restaurant with a separate bar area that happened to have two gorgeous plasmas hanging off beautiful mahogany walls. These were patrons, staff and people who saw the crowd and popped in to see what was happening. And then it struck me: The reason why this was happening, why these viewers were like moths to a flame, was not because of the debate itself. It was because they were personally invested in the people, in the topics, in the outcome. They were yelling, talking back, calling friends, laughing with each other.

With that said, here is a challenge: which television programs are you that invested in? Why? When you can answer that, maybe, just maybe, that will help build a base for *real* interactive programming.

Tags: tv
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