21st Century TV – LEITV Critique

Sunday, October 30th, 2011

For our first assignment in Live, Experimental, Interactive Television, we divided into groups to figure out compelling ways to use SMS texting in interactive television.

I found myself in quite the eclectic group. There was Stephan, the dark, quick-talking Russian, who wanted nothing else but to parse text and display it in catchy, garbled ways. Then Allison, who was hooked on improvisation, and Jackson, who’s ambition and conviction were intoxicating – and he knew he wanted to use the Nootropics Video Experimenter.

Then there was me – I personally battled with myself while trying to make texting and televison, two things I’ve intuitively shied away from my whole life, interesting. I thought about many possibilities – playing pong over commercials, overlaying my own + friends faces over soap opera characters, creating simple text-movement phone controls (a = up, etc).

I thought about having a text-to-speech deity, or talking head, or spaceship, or puppet.

I thought to myself – what’s good about these technologies? What’s good about interaction in these spaces?

I remembered what Kimi and I had spoken briefly about once in class – that we weren’t trying to improve television – we were trying to bend it, break it, and reshape it into something new for ourselves.

Our jumble of interests coming into this class made compromise a challenge. If I were to do this assignment again I would still probably allow Jackson the reigns, but would also delineate clear responsibilities for the rest of us regarding content and a back-up plan. It seems to me now that program managing + storyboarding are essential to creating any visual narrative content. It’s a tricky lesson to learn/teach, as so many of us are used to learning new things quickly and dedicating as much time as we can to making them work, leaving design at the wrong end of the process. We forget that what we are always, inevitably doing first is communicating with other people. Generally I prefer to make the tech work for the idea and not the other way around. Given that this was our first run, I would insist that our project be kept sweet and simple – cute even, before focusing on the hardware + tech.

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