Wandering in Fields of Idiots

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Can TV Be Replaced as a Form of Entertainment, and With What ?

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On the business social network LinkedIn the question was posed by Steve Cohn of T-Mobile:

Can TV be replaced as a form of entertainment, and with what ?

And amongst the other answers I wrote the following which I shall share here:

“To provide some background: I work for a company that makes Digital Television receivers, I previously lectured at a specialist college in broadcasting and I also worked for the BBC (among other broadcast companies).

After all this, I don’t own a TV and the result is that both my partner and I couldn’t be happier. This isn’t to say we don’t watch ‘TV’, we watch some downloaded and on demand content, however unlike most peoples experience with television we are not passive viewers. We actively seek out that which we would like to watch and if nothing appeals we don’t watch anything we do something else.

I think the visual medium has worked for so long (theatre, graphic novels, film and TV) that it will never be replaced because it is the mirror of our lives. However, with the improvement in diversity of choice and the move away from the linear viewing experience (through DTR/PVR time shifting) is creating a new generation who don’t just watch what they want but when they want.

One thing however that will sustain is the fact that for the majority of people (not really represented in the demographic reading here) they are happy with the passive experience because it means they don’t need to think. Many people do like to be told what is good, what is right and what to do. They come home, turn on the TV and just accept that which is fed to them and they are themselves complicit in accepting this.

Fortunately this is being supplanted by the non-linear experience where popularity is dynamically decided by the social network and while consumers might only limit themselves to routinely watching the top-ten selection there is still a greater degree of individual influence and choice. Plus, through the growth of linking and “digg”ing you are seeing ‘playlists’ being composed again and what is effectively the return of the ‘mix tape’ through the sharing of content selection as self-expression.

I welcome any comments on my reply or the question in general.