Television: How Much Interaction is too Much Interaction?

About a year ago, Cisco’s blog posted their predictions of what changes television would undergo in the near future. They predict that television would become more universal and more interactive in the upcoming years.

The first idea is that televisions will become more than just a television. While the idea of a multipurpose screen that masquerades as a wall hanging when not in use, and has video conferencing capabilities on top of it’s television capabilities sounds like a useful development only a few years away, the lack of a remote sounds a bit iffy. While this remote-less television is already in existence, it doesn’t seem particularly practical. How do you make sure that the gestures or voice commands to your TV do not get mixed up with gestures or comments to friends or family? What happens if multiple people try to command the television at once?

More concerning than a remote-less TV, however, is the prediction of increasing interaction with a show. Cisco predicts that fans will begin interacting with the shows to influence the outcome and help a character accomplish challenges. Good television is not a video game. It is meant to have twisted overarching plots that the viewer cannot possibly predict and would only interfere with. With viewers as a collective influencing the outcomes, I shudder to think how far downhill the quality will go. Though the prospect does not seem practical to me, I worry that this is simply wishful thinking.

Furthermore, Cisco predicts that instead of flipping through channels, everything will be meshed together and we will pick by the type of show. Ads will also become completely personalized, rather than catered to the general demographic of viewers; a unfortunate, but practical development. What will this mean for those who chose not to pay for cable and satisfy themselves with the free networks? Nothing good, I predict. With shows almost autonomous of the networks, might the system break down? Might cable or satellite become the only way to get TV? I certainly hope not. Because this system would probably lessen the network’s power, I do not see this system becoming implemented.

Furthermore, this development with further polarize our culture. We may not all know a show but we’ve all seen the Geico ads. If television becomes as personalized as Cisco predicts we will see our sense of a collective culture diminish even further as we retreat to our special settings.

Television will become more much more versatile, and more interactive. It will become even more portable, continuing to dilute conversation as a medium for entertainment. Television, will however, continue to exist in  recognizable form, networks and all.

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