Commentary

Internet TV vs. Live TV

I typically don’t have much time to watch television, so I only have a few shows that I’ll watch, but to those I watch, I am very loyal: American Idol, The Bachelor (yes, I know it rarely works out, but it’s my guilty pleasure), and, even though it’s technically not a show, the World Series.

Of my three “shows,” only one of them offers viewing online, but I would rather watch them live. In my mind, this makes sense because they are all based in reality, and it’s more fun for me to experience the surprise of what happens in the moment. Plus, I love to talk about what happens during the show during the commercial breaks. Think about watching American Idol or The Bachelor. I don’t want to talk during the performance or judging or through the drama, so when commercials roll around, I get two to three minutes to share my thoughts with my roommates who are watching with me. That’s another reason why I watch television in my living room…I get to watch with friends. Usually when I watch TV online, I’m by myself, which makes my viewing experience a lot less fun.

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However, if I miss an episode of the Bachelor, I am so thankful that it plays online. There are definitely positives for watching television online as well…fewer commercial breaks, for one. For some reason, the creators of The Bachelor decided to make the show 2 hours long, which at times seems dreadfully long. If I watch it online, it’s only an hour and a half. Sometimes when I’ve been busy all day with homework and need a break, I’ll go online and watch an episode of Samantha Who, which gives me a perfect 20 minute break without even getting out of my chair.

So although I would prefer to watch television in the living room with all my friends, I wouldn’t be able to fully keep up with my shows without internet TV. My question to you is, which do you prefer?

1 comment about "Internet TV vs. Live TV".
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  1. David Hawthorne from HCI LearningWorks, November 2, 2009 at 3 p.m.

    This post from "The Digital Frontier" is a great comfort to those of us on the digital 'post-erior" I spent most of my professional life on the 'bleeding edge" of what we called 'new media.' (I taught video and TV production in the early '70s at NYU, shot a lot of 'experimental' video, including a bizarre 'Farewell to Kahoutek' with a dance company leaping through a roaring bonfire on a beach in The Hamptons at 3 a.m. in the winter of '74. I followed that with a more conventional career as a journalist chronicling changs in media technolgy through broadcasting, cable, satellite, film, video, and the early days of the web. I'm still doing it.)

    Convincing TPTB that 'this' would change everything was ultimately a Sysphean task. We were always caught between the chemically altered states of the new wave, and the rock bound coast of "people aren't interested in that."

    Well, thinking about you and your friends sitting in the 'living room' and watching 'reality' TV on the 'tube' captures precisely what we were always trying to convey: It's not about how the technology changes, it's how people use change.

    Humans aren't Zombies. They choose things that suit their needs (even those needs the can be called, 'desires.') Back in the day we used to talk about "lean forward" and "lean back" media, describing the user's dispostion toward the activity at hand. To do some types of work and play, you need to "lean forward" to focus on the activity and to exclude distractions from the perimeter. To engage in still other types of activity, you need to "lean back;" to open the space between you and the activity. Stories and narratives of all types require an openess. Like vampires, you have to invite them into your society. That's the important part about technology: it's incomplete without a human to use it.

    We socialize with entertainment. We make room for it. We share our experience of it with our friends and acquaintences. Our shared tastse become a selectively permeable membrane that admits some people and experiences while keeping others out.

    It's no a surprise that you feel as you do. It's just comforting. It an expression similar to what Judith Scott had in mind for her "Farewell to Kahoutek" performance. She was excited, like many of us, by the idea of seeing this visitor from deep space. She wanted to convey our Earthly hospitality and appreciation. The bonfire, in Judith's mind, could be seen from the comet's surface. It was meant to be empathetic...to let this visitor know that its passage was noted, and welcomed, and brought joy to the inhabitants of the planet. So, thanks for your post. It's feels good to know that humans still enjoy each other and will go to extraorindaryt lengths to share that pleasure.

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