May 28, 2008
The Future of TV and Public Academic Work

Another piece I've been meaning to direct C3 readers toward was a piece including some comments from C3 alum Geoffrey Long from earlier this month. The story, called Is the future of TV on the Web?, looks at the promises, questions, and tensions of online video.

Awhile back, I was interviewed for a few minutes by a reporter from The Chronicle of Higher Education about the potential promise of a social networking site for youth basketball, organized by the NCAA and the NBA.

As I wrote:

My appearance comes in the article's conclusion, in which they propose that reaction is mixed. As evidence of the mixed reaction, Brad Wolverton picks out mine as a positive response to the decision, saying "A project like this really catches my eye," and noting I thought it had "much potential," while Eric J. Anctil was quoted as saying that it's hard to get kids to "do what you want them to do" and that this "sounds like a good idea to people who are in their 40s and don't know what kids like."

I proceeded to use my post to expand on what I saw as a post that presented me as the CMS optimist without getting into the nuance of the situation.

A few days later, I saw a post from Jason Mittell doing the same thing, elaborating on some quotes that appeared from him in brief in an NPR soundbite or two.

Geoff has likewise elaborated on his short quotes that appeared in the CNN story, by providing a full rundown of his thoughts on the matter. See this post from his personal blog, Tip of hte Quill.

He writes:

As for whether or not TV will still be the place where the family gathers, I'd argue that television should never have been the place where the family gathers. When you have a family all sitting together watching TV, they're very rarely looking at each other or even communicating with each other while the show is on. There are some exceptions, of course -- shouting out answers while watching Jeopardy or collectively heckling American Idol -- but for the most part the consumption of most media is still a singular experience, even while watching it in the company of others. In my household, more often than not we're dead silent while we're watching Lost or House, M.D. except for when we're laughing at something on-screen, and even then that's less an interaction with each other than a reaction to what we're watching. The family interactions happen during commercial breaks, or after the show's over. Even in the days when you could safely assume everyone you know had watched last night's episode of I Love Lucy, and you could all talk about it, the discussion was still being held separately from the consumption of the media. I think that the transformation of television into these post-broadcast models will simply make these discussions into more like our conversations about movies. People don't watch movies at the same time, in the same place, or under the same conditions, but we still talk about them in more or less the same way. The biggest change now is that many of these conversations aren't being held around water coolers but on Internet forums. The trade-off is that you may be less likely to ask your co-worker if they'd seen the episode of Homestar Runner that was posted online last night, but you can have the same conversation with friends on the other side of the planet. It comes down to how you define a fractured, individual society.