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TV is torture

March 25th, 2004 · 1 Comment

Strange night tonight. Not only am I watching TV, I’m watching it alone. I’m sitting in Ted’s office watching the world championships in figure skating playing on his computer monitor. I’m recording it so he can see it when he comes home.

The other day Lisa Williams wrote about her visions of TV in Talking Back to the World

But what if anybody could easily make their own DVD commentary, and anyone could easily download it and sync it with their own copy of the DVD?


But why stop there? What about realtime collaborative commentaries on broadcast TV? What if I could use my PVR and its connection to the Net to merge my watching of a movie with chat with other users watching the same movie, displayed as a “crawl” across the bottom of the screen, much the way CNN displays headlines scrolling across the bottom of the screen? Then those logfiles could be saved and replayed by others watching the movie, seeing the commentary in sync with the video. I can see it now: the Criterion Edition: #joiito on Pulp Fiction.

Andrew Grumet commented:

…These are interesting ideas, and I think quite implementable. Personally, I prefer passive style tv watching, at least while the program is running. I’m not interested in typing or pointing or clicking or watching words march across the bottom of the screen. But if enough people are, it could work.

Lisa’s ideas and Andrew’s response both intrigued me. The idea of *talking* through the TV, creating your own commentary. On the other hand, the idea of tv as passive entertainment: why make it interactive?

I don’t watch much TV. I’m not used to passive entertainment. When I stare at a screen, I’m usually holding a mouse in one hand, scrolling and clicking, typing and thinking.

But I can understand preferring TV to be passive. I have nights when all I want to do is sit and be entertained, too tired to do much else. Once in a while, if we’re sufficiently exhausted, Ted and I have put in a DVD and stared at it until bedtime.

Tonight though I’d love some commentary. Like for example this goofy theme that ABC has decided to use to promote the skating: some sort of primal tribal drumming and dancing in an ice house (?!). It could be fun to watch this along with commentary from other skate fans, ones who were passionate and informed, cheering/jeering along and sharing facts, trivia and history across the bottom of the screen.

But the fan I’d love to dialogue with the most is my beloved Ted, stuck in a hotel room on the other side of the continent. He’s the skate fan of the family.

Tonight I watched the pairs competition, sitting by myself on this much-too-spacious sofa. Nothing like watching a man and woman skate together in each others arms when my own partner is miles away from me.

One couple tonight, a pair from China, won the long program with 12 perfect 6.0s, after years of training at 40 below for hours a day outside, riding bicycles at 4 am to get to practice as children. Their story and their skating – throws! – amaze me. It’s the kind of moment I want to share with him (also the men’s competition!).

Ignoring the time difference (and the work Ted has to accomplish) we could chat on the phone or IM but it would be fun too to dialogue across the TV screen (maybe have our own private channel in addition to a larger one?). Ted could fill me in on the moves (I still can’t tell a flutz from a lutz!) and I could write back to my partner my own cutesy commentary. It still wouldn’t be the same as cuddling on the sofa together and doing our own dialogue, but it’d be better than this torture of watching TV alone.

Tags: geek

1 response so far ↓

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