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The Trajectory of Television: A Big History of the Small Screen. 134

Posted by samzenpus
from the back-in-the-day dept.
antdude writes "Ars Technica has a three pages article on the trajectory of TV--starting with a big history of the small screen. From the article: 'Though it's a relatively recent invention, television is a pillar of Western—and even global—culture. Even if you're that one guy who makes it a point to mention that you don't watch or even own a television, your life has inevitably been shaped by the small screen to some degree. Popular culture has its moments of being swept up in the comedies and dramas of the airwaves, and television (cable news in particular) indelibly established in the minds of the world that instant access to breaking news on faraway continents is a normal thing.'"
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The Trajectory of Television: A Big History of the Small Screen.

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  • And I have paid for this advertisement

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Watching people watching television, is like watching people stoned out of their minds. The blank expressions, the lack of awareness of their surroundings-- you can pass something quickly in front of a watcher's eyes, and he/she will not even notice. Careful, though, if you block the watcher's eyes for too long, you will receive the drug addicts wrath.

    • Re:Legal drug? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 12, 2013 @09:43PM (#43991983)

      Same goes for someone who's enjoying a book, gazing at a sunset, or performing any other activity which does require focus but doesn't require any other form of physical feedback. Sure, some people express emotions when reading a book, but so do most people watching TV, unless it's simply not emotive content. If you're simply calling "focusing on something" a drug, you're crazy and have an agenda.

      • by Camael (1048726)

        Slightly off-topic, but there are some studies that appear to suggest that watching excessive amounts of television can detrimentally effect the development of children’s brains.

        From the article [prisonplanet.com] :-

        As reported by Reuters [reuters.com] this month, researchers from the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW), found that background noise emitted from television is so distracting and mesmerizing to children that it is impacting their ability to interact with other human beings and potentially slowing down cognitive thinking and language development.

        The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, found that children in the US are now exposed to more than five hours a day of television. Matthew Lapierre, who led the study, explained that children who are subjected to the most TV spend less time interacting with other children and parents.

        In a separate study [guardian.co.uk] , doctors at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health in London found that children born today will have watched a full year of television by the time they are seven years old. The study also found that on average children now spend more time watching television than they do in school.

        Dr Aric Sigman published the study in the Archives Of Disease In Childhood, a medical journey jointly own by the British Medical Journal group.

        Sigman noted that such extensive exposure to television can lead to a void when it comes to social relationships, can lead to attention deficit problems, and can promote significant psychological difficulties.

        Granted, none of these are determinative but it is still food for thought.

        • by smpoole7 (1467717)

          > Slightly off-topic, but there are some studies that appear to suggest that watching excessive amounts of television can detrimentally effect the development of children’s brains

          nOnSEnse eye watcHED lotS Of tV aS a KId and It didn"T buTHeR mE nun eYE tuRnEd oWt fyn

      • Re:Legal drug? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 12, 2013 @10:25PM (#43992147)

        Watching TV does not require focus. It is the opposite. Folks who watch TV call it, "zoning out". You cannot zone out while reading a book. And, if you zoned out, staring at a picture of a sunset for 3-5 hours a day, nobody would consider that healthy and normal-- you might even be compelled to seek professional help.

        http://www.bls.gov/news.release/atus.nr0.htm [bls.gov]
        http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/tv-movies/americans-spend-34-hours-week-watching-tv-nielsen-numbers-article-1.1162285 [nydailynews.com]

        • Re:Legal drug? (Score:4, Interesting)

          by foniksonik (573572) on Wednesday June 12, 2013 @11:42PM (#43992383) Homepage Journal

          I zone out while reading books all the time. My mind wanders to events of the day or nascent ideas I've been pondering. I often have to skip back several pages to get back into the plot.

          Oh did you mean the other kind of zoning out where you are simply not paying attention to anything else as in completely focused and engaged with a single source of stimulation?

          If you can't tell I'm calling your conjecture flawed.

          TV is just a source of stimulation like any other. It's no bigger waste of time than a board game, running laps, reading a fiction novel or having non-procreative sex. None of these are productive activities and all are purely escapist therapy at best.

        • by Sockatume (732728)

          Some people "zone out" while watching TV. Some people actually pay attention. I typically watch movies and serial drama on mine, so it's not really an option.

        • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

          I suffer from CFS that makes it hard to concentrate at times. During those times I can't watch TV shows because I can't follow the plot and quickly get fed up. It seems watching some TV does require focus.

          • It depends on the show. Once, I had a long, busy Sunday and was too tired to concentrate and could tell I wasn't getting squat from Game of Thrones, so I quit watching and resumed the next day when I was rested. OTOH, I often watch political shows without using any brain power whatsoever. No loss.

      • by 1s44c (552956)

        If you stared at the sunset or read a book for hours every single day to the exclusion of all else you would have a problem too. Doubly so if that book never taught you anything or enriched you in any way.

      • People long before TV used to bitch about books (novels and stories) being the Devil's own, distracting people from industriousness.

        • by cellocgw (617879)

          People long before TV used to bitch about books (novels and stories) being the Devil's own, distracting people from industriousness

          I was going to say something similar. Name any significant technical development which did NOT change people's lives. Phone? Precision timepieces for determining longitude? Steam engine? The wheel?

    • by 1s44c (552956)

      Television, the drug of the nation.
      Breeding ignorance and feeding radiation.

      I totally agree. Television is killing the time people should be using to do better things, and just about anything is better except maybe crime. I have a TV but I never turn it on, there is always something better to do.

      Have you seen http://www.whitedot.org/ [whitedot.org] ?

  • a few comments (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Good article. I suspect the author originally planned to also discuss the trajectory of the content, which was clearly quite different decade over decade, but decided to stick to the techie stuff instead. Wise move.

    In addition to NTSC - Never Twice the Same Color (one of the great retronyms in industrial history), there was also PAL - People Are Lavendar, and SECAM - System Essentially Contrary to American Method.

    VHS tapes were pretty handy back in the day. They had two problems: 1) like other tapes, the

    • It was a pretty good article. I didn't get any impression content was the motivation so much as protocol. Mentioning the court business did eat up a grip of the article, but it pretty noteworthy in terms of the scope of relevance it bears to us today. The anecdotes about pappy running three VCRs felt more filler than the court business. Appreciate the retronyms for the other standards. 5/5 comment. Would read again.
    • Re:a few comments (Score:4, Informative)

      by Dan East (318230) on Wednesday June 12, 2013 @10:15PM (#43992089) Homepage Journal

      VHS tapes were pretty handy back in the day. They had two problems: 1) like other tapes, they tended to jam and become totally useless, and 2) the fidelity was really poor, something like half of NTSC in each dimension which wasn't very good in the first place. So watching a VHS tape wasn't a great viewing experience.

      The worst tapes for jamming were the blank ones that could fit 8 hours (160 minutes standard speed) on one tape. The tape was extra thin so more could fit on the spool, and that thinness made it much more prone the jamming up in cheap VCRs (which were basically ALL VCRs manufactured once DVD had gained a foothold). VHS tapes from the studios (movies) were typically very good, and there wasn't a problem with them jamming because they didn't need to fit 8 hours on one tape.

      Regardless of the quality issues with VHS, it was such a game changer when it became prolific that I can only look back on it in a positive light. Before that pretty much the only option was watching what was broadcast live, or going to the movie theater. Either way, we did not have any control over what we watched and when. (Yes, I'm ignoring laserdisc or using a film projector at home, because both were read-only, expensive, and only limited titles were available in those formats).

      • by sjames (1099)

        The sad thing is that for all of the quality improvements in DVRs, they are a huge step back in many ways. Most of them seem to be more concerned with obeying the MPAA and the cable company than the owner. They also don't seem to like exporting things to long term storage very much. I still have VHS tapes from the '80s that work fine.

        You just about have to make your own DVR to get it to reach the equivilent functionality of VHS.

    • Re:a few comments (Score:5, Insightful)

      by AHuxley (892839) on Wednesday June 12, 2013 @10:22PM (#43992127) Homepage Journal
      Another generation will think TV was a total US 1950's all electronic patent race.
      What about the CRT work of Ferdinand Braun, the Nipkow disk, the 1929 work of Francis Jenkins in the USA?
      The work of Telefunken? John Logie Baird? The US/German/UK patent hunt of the 1930's?
      • There's a 1942s book, "Television, Today and Tomorrow", about the Baird and other rotating disk systems. At the end, there's a chapter about "electronic television", but it's dismissed as too complex and expensive. All those tubes!

        Yes, I know about Zworklin and Farnsworth and Sarnoff and the progression from the iconoscope and the image dissector to the image orthicon. Then came color, which meant three of everything, including camera tubes.

        • by mirix (1649853)

          Hmm, but American TV was already standardized to NTSC by 1940? or so... and had probably been electronic for at least 5 years before that, but not standardized yet.

          From the mid 30's to the period through the war, there was massive progress in tube development. Miniaturization, cost reduction, and increased reliability, as well as multiple "tubes" in a single envelope (tube), more rugged, etc... at lower cost, too.

          A sort of generic low power, decent gain triode, went from being something that was in a 1-3/4

        • The BBC had abandoned mechanical TV well before WW-II focussing instead on the EMI 405 line system, and to the best of my knowledge the Baird (style) technologies weren't particularly common outside of the UK (I think similar technologies were used for a while in Germany but it, too, had gone electronic by that time.)

          So it surprises me that a 1940s book would be suggesting that mechanical systems were the way to go or anything but the mainstream.

      • by westlake (615356)

        What about the CRT work of Ferdinand Braun, the Nipkow disk, the 1929 work of Francis Jenkins in the USA?

        Mechanical scanning is a viable solution if you are building a fax machine or a still video camera for extreme conditions. Your Martian lander, for example.

        But for full motion video it sucks rocks.

        Especially if you have only the tech of the 1920s - 1030s to work with. A practical system might deliver a bare 30-60 lines of resolution at 15 to 30 fps --- and the lighting requirements were brutally punishing for any live model.

    • I've never had these bad experiences with VHS that people seem to have had. Not a single tape has ever jammed for me, and when HQ circuits and then S-VHS showed up, you could copy a DVD on there and not notice the difference. What kind of VCRs were people buying, and how long did they leave them submerged in salt water for them to perform so poorly?
      • If I remember correctly, you could get some pretty terrible VCR's back in the day. I acquired, and used until the kids filled it up with sandwihches, a really nice Sony VCR that worked fantastically. Great freeze frame, frame advance, slow motion, all that. But my folks, for whatever reason, were always happy with the cheapest and nastiest players they could find. They made awful plastic grinding noises upon inserting a table, and generally died after about a year - usually taking whatever tape was inside t

  • The wiki article is good, too.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_television [wikipedia.org]

  • I'm now one of those in the "don't have a TV" crowd, and I believe that theories of economics have affected the masses by way of the television.

    The Good for Viewers: A means of visually confirming events and visually experiencing other people's imaginations via scripted TV.
    The Good for Broadcasters: A means of sharing an opinion to audiences in real-time (same goes for the Internet), which inevitably shapes "public opinion."

    The Bad for Viewers: Increased exposure to opinions that may not be of interest -- w

    • I'm now one of those in the "don't have a TV" crowd, and I believe that theories of economics have affected the masses by way of the television.

      Out of interest, do you watch TV/Movies anyway? I didn't have a TV for most of my adult life - it was only when I moved in with my girlfriend (who is now my wife), that there ended up being one in the house. I do however have a fairly large collection of DVDs and TV/Movie/Documentary files on my computer.

      From my point of view at least, I get the 'good' from your post, with less (but admittedly not "no") exposure to the 'bad' and the 'ugly'.

    • by Sockatume (732728)

      If you think that "increased exposure to opinions that may not be of interest" is a bad thing for a person something is horribly wrong with the world.

      • by atom1c (2868995)

        If you think that "increased exposure to opinions that may not be of interest" is a bad thing for a person something is horribly wrong with the world.

        There's a difference between being exposed to opinions once disagrees with (great for building an argument for/against a topic) and opinions of no interest (like 30-minute informercials aimed at an audience not comprising yourself). The former (disagreed opinions) is exemplified by the plethora of commentators who try to convince the world that they're right... the latter (no interest) is exemplified by the mere practice of "channel surfing."

        Nobody has ever declare that channel surfing was a productive pra

  • I remember when... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NewtonsLaw (409638) on Wednesday June 12, 2013 @09:50PM (#43992001)

    I'm probably one of the older readers/posters here and I'll tell you why I hate TV.

    Back when I was a kid, there was no TV.

    People and communities were far different.

    Everyone knew their neighbours and interacted with them on a daily basis.

    We'd have card or board-game evenings on a Tuesday night, whereupon most everyone in the street would roll up at someone's house and enjoy a very social time together, enjoying each other's company and having fun. We kids would play out in the yard (in summer) or inside (in winter), sharing our comics and also playing games.

    When Mrs Brown 5 doors down was ill, someone would go mow her lawns every weekend and the women would take turns making sure she had a nutritious meal three times a day.

    Most Saturday nights the guy who lived next to us would get out his 16mm film projector and a movie would be screened on his garage door. The adults would all sit around watching and drinking beer -- while we kids also watched or just went and played ball in the yard out back.

    Because of this tight bonding between neighbors, those were days when you could leave your car parked in the driveway (or on the road outside your house) with the keys in it and when folk went on vacation, they never bothered to lock their doors -- otherwise the people next door couldn't get in to water the plants while you were away.

    Perhaps my glasses of retrospect are rose-tinted, but they were wonderful, carefree, crime-free days where I lived.

    Then TV came along.

    Once everyone had their own set, people no longer got together and socialised of an evening. Instead, they stayed in their own houses and after a few years (as some folk sold up and others moved in), it quickly became apparent that we didn't even know some of those who lived in the street.

    A little later, after a few car-thefts and burglaries, people started locking their cars and doors.

    You see, once the fabric of the community was torn by the isolating effect of television, most folk no longer had the close bond that once existed with the others in their neighborhood -- in fact people became anonymous. Once folk are anonymous their inhibitions tend to drop and they're far more likely to submit to temptation (such as theft or other crimes). Just look at how differently many people behave when they're on vacation in a different part of the country and you'll see the proof of that. If the people around you know who you are you tend to be far more conservative and circumspect in your behavior. Go somewhere where nobody knows you and it's easier to behave badly.

    Anyway, TV has now become opiate of the masses. Far too many people spend a huge percentage of their life passively sitting in front of the box, soaking up everything that's thrown at them.

    If you'd tried to describe why the Kardashians would be celebrities back when I was a kid, people would simply not understand -- and I have to admit, I still don't get it.

    The best thing we could do for any nation is to switch off TV and show people that "reality" is a much better option than "reality TV".

    Hell, imagine how much better off we'd all be if we spent an hour less each day watching TV and instead, used that time to improve our education, earn a little extra money -- or just spend quality time with our friends and families.

    I doubt very much whether *anyone's* last words will ever be "Darn, I wish I'd spent more time watching TV".

    But hey, I'm old enough to know I'm wrong more often than I'm right -- so feel free to ignore this rant :-)

    • by Jiro (131519) on Wednesday June 12, 2013 @10:16PM (#43992095)

      Go somewhere where nobody knows you and it's easier to behave badly.

      When your neighbors know all about you and their attitudes enforce your behavior, that doesn't just mean it's hard to get away with robbing someone's house. It also means it's hard to be gay, or atheist, or a geek, or a woman who doesn't think that preparing nutritious meals is her job. or anything else nonconformist.

      I doubt very much whether *anyone's* last words will ever be "Darn, I wish I'd spent more time watching TV".

      People sometimes wish they had enjoyed more of the pleasures of life, which can certainly include watching more TV even if watching more TV isn't the whole list.

      • I tend to disagree. Because of TV-inspired segregated identity clustering, we've removed the non from "non-conformist". As a non-conformist, I long for a time when I could... non-conform. I never had a hard time being non-conformist, though one had to be tactful, polite, and civil about it.

        And seriously, if you hear yourself on your deathbed saying you wish you had watched more TV, my sense is that many of the better aspects of existence have passed you by.
        • by Sockatume (732728)

          That's like arguing against curing cancer because it'd get rid of the idea of a cancer survivor. When everyone's identity has a space, conformism is on the way out.

          If I die without watching White Tulip again I'll be deeply disappointed. Peter Weller and John Noble at the same time!

      • by number11 (129686)

        When your neighbors know all about you and their attitudes enforce your behavior, that doesn't just mean it's hard to get away with robbing someone's house. It also means it's hard to be gay, or atheist, or a geek, or a woman who doesn't think that preparing nutritious meals is her job. or anything else nonconformist.

        Yeah, there was some of that too. But I remember a school janitor who was a Communist who'd get onto call-in radio shows (this in the early '60s), and (at least in my parents' circles) that got reactions of "oh, that's just so-and-so, he's ok outside of that".

        I dunno. In some ways people then (or maybe it's rural people, of which I was then but no longer am) were less accepting of differences, but more willing to make exceptions. Nowadays, in the city, I just don't associate with the evildoers.

      • Yeah - I suspect a "two dads" or "two mommy" family would get a frosty reception at the 1949 community card game.
    • by AthanasiusKircher (1333179) on Wednesday June 12, 2013 @10:19PM (#43992117)

      While this is a really nice story, and I like a lot about it, I also have heard conflicting stories from parents and grandparents about people in the age of radio who always "had to listen to their show" and the neighbor guy who was holed up every evening "listening to the game" (generally baseball).

      Obviously there were a lot of social changes that played into the trends you describe, and television played a role. But the story you tell is oversimplified... when I grew up (in the era of tv), for example, I didn't watch tv every night -- and when I did, it was more likely to be at a neighbors' house while hanging out and socializing. I'm not saying I had the most common experience, but it was possible to sit at home and be antisocial while listening to the radio before tv, just as it was possible to treat communal tv watching as another social activity (like going to the movies).

      There's also lots of other stuff to blame for the cultural trends you mention other than tv. (I say this as someone who rarely watches it these days.)

    • by Darinbob (1142669)

      Actually, we had a TV growing up but we still had that environment. You knew the neighbors, you played boardgames, etc. Only three channels though, that meant that you would run out of stuff you wanted to watch very fast.

      On the other hand, we actually had parents, which meant that even if we had 10,000 channels, you were never going to become couch potatoes because it wouldn't have been allowed. Didn't matter if my favorite program was on, if it was time to go mow the neighbor's lawn then I had to go do

      • by sjames (1099)

        I think it has more to do with employment than TV. Communities existed because there was time to be in a community. One person in the household was generally home, or at most running errands within the community. There's no need to go back to the old sexism since it hardly matters which person is home or even if they alternate, so long as someone is and they're not too busy telecommuting to talk or to do something about the eyesore on the corner or plan for the block party.

        People veg in front of the TV beca

        • by 1s44c (552956)

          People veg in front of the TV because it's hard to want to do much else after a full day of work plus whatever actually
          HAS to get done around the house.

          Unless you work 16 hour days then have to spend a few more hours each day nailing your roof back on that's just untrue. People got used to sitting in front of the TV for hours a day because it's easier than almost anything else.

          I don't watch TV, I use my evenings for more productive things.

          • by sjames (1099)

            For most people, an '8 hour' day is actually 9 hours at work (8 hours work + 30 minute lunch and two 15 minute breaks) + an hour or two stuck in traffic. Add in 8 hours to sleep and there's a grand total of 5 hours left for personal hygene, preparing 2 meals, laundry gassing the car, getting the kids to do their homework, paying the bills etc.

            Are you claiming that each household having an adult with an extra 9 to 11 hours a day presented no additional time for communuity whatsoever?

    • If you'd tried to describe why the Kardashians would be celebrities back when I was a kid, people would simply not understand -- and I have to admit, I still don't get it.

      You must have been pretty isolated as a kid - and somehow managed to remain ignorant your whole life. (Or you've got a seriously thick pair of rose colored glasses and a selective memory editor that's morphed your past into a lost golden age.) Any follower of celebrity culture from any era would instantly grok why the Kardashians are cel

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Truly sounds like a nice time but I don't know if you can blame TV for all that. For instance, the birth of cities meant there were a lot more strangers you had to deal with on a regular basis, resulting in less intimate relationships with one another.

    • by foniksonik (573572) on Wednesday June 12, 2013 @11:59PM (#43992423) Homepage Journal

      So you had a very localized, very homogenous culture with little or no outside influences. I'm betting everyone in that neighborhood voted the same way, were suspicious of and openly hostile to new and different ways of thinking/living and 25% of the kids couldn't wait to get out of the small minded hellhole they lived in.

      We tend to recall our childhood environment through the lens of a blissfully ignorant child's point of view. There was likely domestic abuse, alcoholism, racism, teen pregnancy and a variety of other social problems just on the other side of those "open doors" that was never talked about in front of the kids.

      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by DNS-and-BIND (461968)
        So, you just made some shit up and tried to pin it on him? And that got +4 Interesting? WTF we are just making shit up now? It is depressing how many people simply refuse to believe that there might be nice places in the world where live nice people. They just can't get the idea through their minds - everybody in the world must be just like them, there cannot possibly be any diversity.
        • So, you just made some shit up and tried to pin it on him? And that got +4 Interesting? WTF we are just making shit up now?

          What makes you think he's making it up? What he (the OP describes) is known damm well by anyone whose actually studied history, particularly 20th century US history, instead of trying to romanticize it. I grew up 20 years after the grandparent, and thought much like he did of the past... until I actually grew up and started studying.

          Even so, I managed to convince myself for ye

      • by hedleyroos (817147) on Thursday June 13, 2013 @07:22AM (#43994173)

        I liked his story better.

    • by jader3rd (2222716)
      I don't think that the breakdown of the neighborhood social structure is due to TV, I think it's due to Air Conditioning. With no AC you have to go outside on a regular basis; with AC you don't.
      • by 1s44c (552956)

        I don't think that the breakdown of the neighborhood social structure is due to TV, I think it's due to Air Conditioning. With no AC you have to go outside on a regular basis; with AC you don't.

        Not everyone lives in a hot area, yet the social problems described are not specific to hot environments.

      • It's worth pointing out that central air conditioning began to be common in new construction homes in the early 60's...

    • You forgot the most important part: get off my lawn! ;)

    • by Anonymous Coward

      You cannot really blame television solely for the decay in the fabric of society. Back before television, people rarely moved once they had settled down. They worked at the same company/factory/etc for all of their lives. They ran into their neighbours when they went shopping, went to the dentist, went to the hospital, went to the bar.

      These days, people rarely work at the same place for more then two years or so. They often move within a few years rather then settling in to one house. Society teaches u

    • My God, I hope you haven't discovered Internet yet! Just kidding, sorry, I'm not as old as you, but maybe like all tools the TV has caused problem when abused, while it also had good effects on many aspects of society.
    • by Sockatume (732728)

      Back when there were no card- or board-game nights ("free time" is a Victorian construct) people got a lot more done and there was less crime, too.

      • by sjames (1099)

        Free time is only a Victorian concept because before that there was enough of it that it didn't need a special name or attention paid to it.

    • by argStyopa (232550)

      I largely agree with you, and I have both good and bad news:

      Good - TV is generally, I believe, killing itself off. The bait/hook ratio (programming/commercials) is far, far too small, and the bait itself (the shows) are mostly vapid, brainless programming equivalent to "Ow My Balls!". It's hard to watch normal broadcast TV without constantly being cognizant that it really IS a visually-delivered mood-altering drug in just about every way.

      Bad - I've long thought that it would be wonderful to have TV shut d

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      Maybe you were lucky, but most places that world never existed.

      For example the London Blitz is often held up as a golden time when Londoners came together to support each other and put two fingers up to Mr. Hitler. Actually crime was rampant and they had to close bomb shelters during the day because kids vandalized them. Looting of bombed homes was common, and organized crime thrived.

    • Thanks for the great post. As a disclaimer, I've been working as a contractor for the last 18 months or so supporting a major TV/Cable company's broadcast operations' embedded software for digital video, and years earlier I did work for IBM with digital video and cable set-top boxes, so the below may be biased in that sense.

      One thing I might point out is that in Europe, even with TV, the sort of community life you describe is somewhat more intact. So, there is some sort of difference in the USA. TV is no do

  • by Anonymous Coward

    An artilce about the development of television broadcasting that doesn't mention either of these?

  • We've got the Internet, so why dumb yourself down by passivly staring at a propaganda box? They do call it "TV programs" as in "programming" (mind control). I haven't had a TV for about 12 years and I see a clear colleration between how much people watch TV and how much they know about what is really going on in the world around them. There also seems to be a colleration between the amount of time spent in front of a TV and the ability to think clearly and critically. Seriously, get rid of your TV if you ha
    • by atom1c (2868995)

      We've got the Internet, so why dumb yourself down by passivly staring at ...

      You almost had a valid point, except that the effects of the Internet are the same as that of a Television. Future generations of smart televisions (like coupling an Xbox One w/ Kinect into a TV set) will allow you to yell at the screen, for your rants to get transcribed in real-time and automatically added to the multimedia transcript so various users can both experience the program AND the reactions as they happened. That's as close to Reality TV as we'll ever get -- a replay of a single Live moment of

      • by c0lo (1497653)

        We've got the Internet, so why dumb yourself down by passivly staring at ...

        Future generations of smart televisions (like coupling an Xbox One w/ Kinect into a TV set) will allow you to yell at the screen, for your rants to get transcribed in real-time and automatically added to the multimedia transcript so various users can...etc

        You forgot (or omit) mentioning NSA as an entity that will be enjoying your reactions...
        U still want to do anything else but to zone-out in front of your TV?

    • by Macgrrl (762836)

      Correlation does not imply causation.

      There are plenty of informed people who watch some degree of TV, just as there are plenty of internet junkies who are clueless about pretty much everything.

      There are people who rely on traditional media such as print who sit at either end of the spectrum.

      It's what you watch on TV that makes a bigger difference; are you watching something informative which challenges your preconceived ideas or zoned out in front of Keeping up with the Kardashians (which still makes me thi

    • by Sockatume (732728)

      You shouldn't use a computer, they call it "computer programming" as in "programming" (mind control). (Not that I disagree with the point that today's TV is about as enlightening as the red top newspapers, but talk about a dodgy rationale.)

    • by sjames (1099)

      yes, lolcats and 4chan are ever so much moar intellectually stimulating and spiritually uplifting.

  • by GoodnaGuy (1861652) on Wednesday June 12, 2013 @10:38PM (#43992181)
    When I was younger I used to watch a lot of televsion and even look forward to the shows. Nowadays I dont even have a television, I get all my information from the Web. Television is no longer informative, watch a documentary and you'll spend an hour watching repeated film clips and commentary interspersed with maybe 20 minutes of adverts. Much more efficient reading articles on the web for what you are interested in. Television is just light entertainment. Also with the news, each countries news agencies have their own narrow agendas so you never really get the full picture of world events. Much better to visit online news sites of different countries and political views. Then you'll understand much better how things came to be the way they are.
    • by ColaMan (37550)

      watch a documentary and you'll spend an hour watching repeated film clips
      Congratulations! You are not the target audience for these alleged 'documentaries'.
      Go watch a documentary produced by somebody who doesn't cater to the lowest common denominator instead.
      (Hint: Their channel lineup will not contain words like "turbo" , or "extreme")

    • by Sockatume (732728)

      American television is no longer informative. The high-quality overseas news agencies and documentary shows you read online are, to me, domestic ones broadcast nightly.

      I mean, I channel surfed into a first-rate Feynmann doc the other night at the height of prime-time.

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      I think the UK is very lucky to have the BBC. Although a lot of its content is dumbed down it still produces some excellent journalism and debate that is worth watching.

      Interesting you should complain that news agencies have agendas but then get your news online instead, where it either comes from said agencies or from biased and unverifiable bloggers. I agree with your point about foreign news agencies though, they are worth checking just to avoid getting too narrow a focus on your own little corner of the

  • NBC / comcast has killed a lot of good shows at least they try to get sports right but they do press the non Comcast systems.

  • by SuperCharlie (1068072) on Wednesday June 12, 2013 @11:24PM (#43992319)
    We have not had a TV set for about 4 years now. We do watch some online stuff occasionally. Personally, I simply got tired of the never-ending ads. For me, there is no show worth that ceaseless drone of buy shit. Buy shit so people will like you, buy shit so you can get in some girls pants, buy shit so you can be cool.. on and on and on...and then there is the "news" which is the all propaganda network turning our collective minds into jello. What a joy it is to honestly say.. why no.. I didnt see one damn political ad, havent heard FOX or MSNBC or CNN for 4 years and I am that much better off for not getting my dose of daily indoctrination. Its not entertainment, its a mind-rape.
    • That's what DVRs are for and now Netflix/AppleTV/Roku. I and my family treat it as entertainment and edutainment. There are no commercials just content. It's about being inspired by a story, by a character, by the dialogue and the artistry. When the kids are older we'll go to more live events - plays, concerts, etc but there's no better place to enjoy long form storytelling than your own home with your family or friends. It's a meal and a topic of conversation after, "what did you think of the way the prota

      • DVRs help, but they're not good enough. I still get taken out of the story every few minutes and have to hit FF or Skip to avoid hearing some insurance salesbozo yell at me.

    • by Macgrrl (762836)

      We haven't watched broadcast TV in a decade or so, about the only time we see adverts is when we specifically watch one someone linked to us on YouTube for a laugh.

      We have a wall of DVD and a NAS full of digital media. I prefer to watch TV and Movie on my own terms rather than when it suits some network scheduler, particularly given they tend to screw over they types of shows I prefer to watch (I'm looking at you Firefly).

    • by antdude (79039)

      For me with TV, I just record and then watch later. I will control what and when I see!

  • by michaelmalak (91262) <michael@michaelmalak.com> on Wednesday June 12, 2013 @11:59PM (#43992425) Homepage

    FTFA:

    LaserDisc had its brief moment in the sun

    Brief? LaserDisc was available for almost as long as VHS, having come out in 1978 [blam1.com] compared to VHS's 1976. DVD killed them both circa 2000. Coupled with a $10,000 Kloss projection TV [hometheater.com], LaserDisc ushered in "home theater" 20 years before DVD made the term popular. (In fact, LaserDisc had been out for so long, the release of DVD caused a collective groan due to the market confusion it created over whether its 480p was "hi-def" and the delay in HDTV standard that had been in the works since the 80's.)

    • by slew (2918) on Thursday June 13, 2013 @01:21AM (#43992715)

      the release of DVD caused a collective groan due to the market confusion it created over whether its 480p was "hi-def" and the delay in HDTV standard that had been in the works since the 80's.

      I don't think anyone called 480p "hi-def" (it is technically EDTV). Also, although the Japanese had MUSE/Hi-Vision and the Europeans had HD-MAC back in the 80's, they were both mostly analog HD broadcast systems that never really had a robust consumer media component (I doubt there were more than a hand-full of MUSE encoded HD laserdiscs titles...)

      The MPEG standards track (that eventually became the digital HDTV standards) was "in-the-works" in the mid 90's (not the 80's). The MPEG-2 work originally targeted SD and was rushed by Hughes (for satellite tv) and the DVD folks to completion in 1996. Nobody was delaying anything in the standardization meetings as Hughes was clamoring to have the systems layered nailed down before they launched their direct broadcast satellites and the DVD folks wanted to launch products as soon as they could. For example, all the video "scalability" cruft that nobody uses in MPEG-2 were simply a concession to a few hold-outs to get the standard approved ASAP.

      There was for a short time, a "MPEG-3" standard proposed targeting for HD after the MPEG-2 work was done, but none of the proposals were significantly better than MPEG-2 coding at HD resolution, so ***rather than delay*** digital HDTV rollout to develop something better, the MPEG-3 standardization effort was simply cancelled and the first digital HD standards were MPEG-2 based (both terrestrial and satellite).

      Of course, eventually, the MPEG-4-AVC (aka H.264) was eventually developed (leveraging many of the tricks used by the video conferencing standards 'churn' creating an very complicated standard) and became the current defacto standard for HDTV (except for US terrestrial broadcast which is still MPEG-2 from the 90's)...

      • The MPEG standards track (that eventually became the digital HDTV standards) was "in-the-works" in the mid 90's (not the 80's).

        DIgital or no, the sense in the 80's was that HDTV was "just around the corner". On CompuServe's Consumer Electronics Forum (CEFORUM), we were all agonizing over whether to buy new televisions, or wait for the HDTV's to come out. The forum moderator, Marc Weilage, chided us that HDTV would not be able available in the next 10 years, although I doubt even he thought it would take 2

  • I suggest reading a book from the 70s by ex-MadMan Jerry Mander called "Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television" if you can find it.

    Good stuff.

  • ... TV has taken over social interaction. Inside and outside the family. Time was when we interacted and learnt social mores and life skills from entities who could respond to us. TV cannot. While I am sure Ralph Nader and similar outliers exist, TV has become what human nature and the bandwidth/cable access monopolies always destined it to be... manipulative and shallow programming, beholden to advertising interests engorged by the unnatural hold it has over our life.

    Bread and circuses. We got one, one mo

  • After I fire it out of my catapult.
  • "television is a pillar of Westernâ"and even global"

    Television destroyed western culture, that and advertising ...

    Bill Hicks on Advertising [youtube.com]

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