Wednesday, June 16, 2010

TV conversations

I should have learned by now that it'd be tough to write a post while J plays Halo on the big screen. Yet here I sit.

The post on episodic stories got me thinking about changes in television viewing. Gavin Purcell made an interesting observation at the 140 Conference - that "living room conversations are now shared with millions". We've moved from raptly listening without uttering a sound to radio theatre, to silently absorbing TV, to cracking remarks with those in the room, to today.

Today's TV shows are enhanced when viewing by SMS, Twitter, Facebook, and various live blogs, fan boards, etc. People try to adapt language to avoid spoilers for the time-shifters, though that doesn't always work. As I type and J kills Covenant beasties, I'm seeing quick blurbs come in about a fellow Red Jacket alum on this season's Top Chef (since I don't have cable, I have to get the iTunes version, hopefully not too delayed).

Bringing in a community of fans to the living room conversation could be viewed by some as yet another distraction from the family in the room with you. To me, it makes the show and conversation with family in the room that much more interesting. Just as in the episodic reading of American Gods, in the collective TV viewing space, I'm keeping an ear out for good quotes, trying to spot subtle references, connections, plot points (and getting help from others when I miss something). And being part of a community of fans discussing it live gets me more excited - like being at a crowded gig for a band vs a practical private show - because sharing my enthusiasm is one of the best parts.

Plus, J thinks I'm weird if I talk to the TV. If I talk instead to Twitter friends about what I would say to the people on TV, he's none the wiser. ;)

Last fall, Fringe aired a Tweet-peat - a repeat episode where they invited live Twitter conversation. Certain members of the cast & crew were also tweeting live & answering viewer questions. A portion of the tweets appeared at the bottom of the screen during the show, or users could follow the hashtag elsewhere. The additional layer of information on a live episode is something TV has been experimenting with off and on for a while - special 3D moments or pop-up video commentary are examples that come to mind. I hope to see the Twitter experiment repeated, it was fun.

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