Monday, August 5, 2019

The Convergence Of Television Networking Media Essay

The Convergence Of Television Networking Media Essay The long-indicated convergence of broadcast TV and internet is reaching a tipping point. Viewing TV text via internet has changed PC savvy TV viewers expectation dramatically. The rise in synchronized use of internet and TV has resulted in a unique off screen and on screen relationship of users with TV content (Grady, 2010). Gradys view of Television describes onscreen engagement of audience with online TV content and off screen interaction amidst peers and friends that Jenkins (2006) terms as water cooler conversations. The onscreen and off screen experience together brings the sociability factor among viewers that supports the water cooler conversation. TV cultivates sociability in many ways (Lull: 1990) for instance, TV plays a vital role in constructing and maintaining interpersonal relationship amongst family and social units. Likewise, when TV content is viewed on websites and other networking sites, it sparks sociability amongst users that influence users to react in numerous ways. For instance, Spoiler fandom of TV shows Survivors was one of the forms of users that used sociability to spoil the show. Although, fandom is not the only form practiced on networking sites, but many more that influences users to build a community around a specific TV content. Online TV content cultivates sociability in networked communities and gives a platform to practice Mc Luhans (1874) living room experience. But online sociability has charted changes in traditional concept of TV and audience. As Fiske (1987: 63-4) states revaluation of viewer requires a revaluation of text. Hence such a convergence needs to be studied in context to dramatic changes in TV industry such as changes in production, distribution and content management. This section of my literature review highlights dramatic changes in TV and TV entry in a post network era. The section also makes a general understanding about TV culture and TV (content) flow. A separate section discusses proliferation of TV text across social networking sites and social use of technology with relevance to online viewing. 1.3.1 Television Concepts Fiske (1987:1) defines TV, a bearer/provoker of meanings and pleasures, and of culture as the generations and circulation of variety of meanings and pleasures within the society. TV as culture is deeply interwoven in our society that it persistently produces and reproduces; meanings and pleasures and their distribution influences audience to behave in a desired way. Meanings are interpreted differently by audience and are part of flow of TV that are experienced by viewers ( Fiske: 1987,15). Audiences are makers of meaning; consume TV text as readers that are capable of producing meanings and pleasure with respect to socio-cultural frameworks ( Fiske: 1987,17). Therefore, to understand audience, TV needs to be understood as culture and a flow that extends meanings and pleasures to meaning makers in social structures. TV as Culture Culture is complex and difficult to understand, it signifies set of values acquired by set of social groups that results in patterned behavior. Theorist like Richard Hoggart (1957), Raymond William (1958) and EP Thompson (1968) has contributed much to the concept of culture. Hall Jefferson (1976, hall.et.al) states, culture is multi-faceted and plural that contains element from past and layers within it. A culture is a culmination of past and present that shapes existing ideas and insights in a society. Culture is diverse, versatile and contains popular forms of dominant culture in a society (Matthew, 1869). As Turner, explains culture is part of our lives that are so powerful and unquestioned that it almost goes invisible and unnoticed (Turner, 1990). Similarly TV and its text has become integral part of our culture that induces viewers to become readers. Television, its content and the industry forms significant aspects of our culture that affects social structures in many ways. TV has become one of the primary forms of culture in most industrialized society (Kompare, 2002). TV as flow Williams (1958) determines flow; a technology and a cultural form. Flow in context to TV, refers to the movement from one program to other or from one segment to the other. Network channels (producers) hold audience via flow of TV text from one interesting segment to another interesting segment making flow continuous. Kompare (2002) explains flow, a broadcasting property that constitutes the overall experience of broadcasting on the minds of audience. Network channels use flow as a strategy to overcome gaps created by commercials and public message; to grab the attention of audience to fill up those gaps and breaks by moving to another program or a segment of a program making viewing experience as effortless endless experience. Gaps are the visible characteristics that define television experience. Williams (1958) believed gaps are not mere gaps but are planned breaks that happens because of interaction between television and audience, he termed it as planned flow. Flow relates to th e appointment based television that involves audience to experience, TV as an endless narrative flow that intensify their continuity. Continuity engages and sustains audience that results in economic exchange, gratifying needs of network channels (advertisers) and audience. Engagement with TV results in cultural capital where as financial front releases economic capital that is necessary for TV to function as culture good andeconomic good. Flow is an essential concept for the growth and survival of TV as culture in a social structure. John Ellis, John Fiske, Jane Feuer, Richard Dinest, John corner and many others have challenged the operations that Williams described in the process of contributing to the formation of discursive field of flow (Urichho, 2004). Corner (2003) argues flow is a pessimistic discourse of TV culture that disregards television characteristics as a diverse medium. Ellis (1982) discusses the scheduling of different genres of programs that are organized in a TV network should be focus of study. His argument focuses on schedule (time) other than programs (flow) as determined by Williams and emphasizes how a different genre of programs gets fit into scheduling of television by organization of time is more relevant than movement from program to program. His way of determining flow underlines the concept of audience that engage themselves in different ways, provided what has been offered to them. This signifies not only how time handles text but how time passage in the text has imbrications on the life who viewed a particular content. Thus, time is an important factor in the study of TV flow. Flow to be understood in present TV culture, it needs to be studied in relation to current advancement in technologies and new digital systems that has converged different mediums at a single platforms. With introduction of converging technologies, so called mass communication mediums , including TV does not always flow ( Kompare : 2002). TV has come long way from traditional form of viewing TV text that was time based and continuous. New media offers content as flexible package than continuous narrative wiping away factors such as when, where and how that has charted changes in the identity of television as culture. Urichho (2004) sketches flow, a fundamental shift in the interface between television and viewer and so in the viewing experience. He describes flow as an interface and explains how the introduction of metadata system and filter technologies has resulted into a new kind of interaction that suggests TV has entered to a new phase. New devices have provided tools to capture television text and produce ways of asynchronous viewing that has altered the interaction of medium with the culture in many ways (Lotz: 2007:35). New mechanism to view varied TV text has charted changes in the concept of flow making it flexible and malleable. The current phase shows us deepening convergence of technologies at single platform and TVs shift from broadcasting to other modes of carriage like VOD, cable, satellite has given an opportunity to distribute content to wider platforms that reaches beyond the audience of broadcast TV. Recent BARB figures of 2009 indicated that most of the people in UK, recorded the first episode of fifth series of Lost (Guardian, 2009). The distribution of TV text to various alternative carriers has affected TV, its identity and TV as a cultural form. TV as culture is transformed by recurring changes in its components such as TV text, changing preferences of audience, advancement in technologies and network channels stance to produce relevant content in accordance with socio-cultural frameworks. For instance, a popular broadcasting network like BBC or CBS when started uploading programs on their websites, audience discussion rise from dinning room to virtual communities, effecting culture in a different way. As discussed, Television is still evolving; its identity is unstable (not fixed). Its difficult to define what television is and what it will be in near future and what changes it will pose to the culture. Urichho (2004) discusses the difficulties approaching TV as he cites Heath (1998; Urichho : 2004,165) who states increasing inadequacy of existing terms and standards of analysis bounds TV with a specific bound of representation, a certain coherence of object and understanding TV in a complex social-political-individual meaning. TV as flow has been transformed by everyday technologies, economy and by network channels posing specific bearing on culture. To conclude, flow is an essential concept for the growth of television as a culture in a society. Although, many scholars has interpreted flow in different ways, but the concept of flow remains vital to the critical understanding of the medium. . 1.3.2 The changing television The convergence of broadcast model and broadband has defeated traditional appointment based television and has produced a new avatar of the medium. The series of transformation in the medium has changed television over the time, changes in terms of distribution of TV content across different media platforms due to technological convergence and changes in TV content to gratify entertainment needs of varied niche social sets of audience. The broadcasting model in no terms can be stated as single technological medium, thereby affecting social and cultural practices that have grown around the medium over the time (Askwith: 2003). Mc Luhans( 1978) living room experience refers to the culmination of social experiences among family members (audience) lasting an evening. When TV became a product of convergence culture, TV audience discovered new ways to engage with TV content via internet, mobile phones and I phones. Personal computers when added to techno mix convergence; TV audience got a platform to expand their social experiences across variety of channels and engaged themselves with TV content as never before. Loyal viewers used these platforms to contemplate about and discuss varied things about TV content such as characters, plots, locations etc resulting in a never ending collective intelligence (Jenkins: 2000) that engage users in different ways across different social platforms. The distribution of TV text to different channels (mediums) and platforms has designed content as malleable packages in accordance to varied media outlets. Jenkins (2000: 95) describes such a phenomenon as transmedia storytelling, as he explains TV content in the present era is more of a story telling experience involving viewers in different ways. He discusses about popular media franchises such as the matrix, Harry potter, Star Wars and states that such media content are entertainment for convergence age that integrates multiple texts to form a single narrative where each text lays its own individuality and originality. In other words, a transmedia content when unfolds to different media outlet, each text (medium) should be able to contribute solely to respective media franchise, for instance in Matrix a film offers a more immediate rapport with audience where as matrix game would involve players in much different way as experienced in film. Thus it reveals that each medium has got different characteristics and engage audience in different ways. Distribution of TV text across different channels gives rise to new experiences and new ways of engagement with the medium. Not only changes in modes of distribution have contributed much to the changed broadcast model of TV, but also its content has transformed over the years. Mapplebleck (1998) describes a general shift from general formats of TV shows such as current affairs, daily show to a more factually based light entertainment programs. This shift was a direct result of changes in culture -media and popular culture, and the space shared by media and social publics. Although, network channels produce TV text in accordance with the entertainment needs of the audience, but experiments on new ideas and concepts play a vital role in gratifying entertainment needs of existent audience and grabbing new audience. The biggest implication of convergence has been the distribution of national identity content to global media markets thereby removing the boundaries of exclusivity and availing content on multiple channels has resulted in cross-cultural interaction ( Jenkins : 2000). Indian Idol much on the lines of American Idol (reality show on Sony TV India) has become a hybrid format in many countries, with a tint of socio-cultural frameworks practiced at each place. Such experiments with the broadcast model have lifted audience from the monotonous everyday routine soap operas to range of interesting formats that are completely new to them. This phenomena has been described as a shift towards first person media (Dovey: 2000) and a post documentary culture (Corner: 2000). With changes in content, there have been major changes in the production techniques to engage audience at different levels of pre production, production and post production. New production practices with TV literate fans have fo stered changes in the way fiction series construct story world (Scones: 2008:67). Sometime various textual strategies are employed for a direct interaction between producers and audience to build rapport with audience. Network channels apply strategies like distribution of content to various platforms, content management and changes in production techniques to engage audience in different ways at different levels, for instance, CBS has become the most viewable network by telecasting some formulaic crime and drama series like survivors and early days of CSI (Lotz: 2007:215). Jenkins (2000:25) adds Survivor is a TV for internet age-designed to be discussed dissected, debated, predicted and critiqued. Survivors (reality show on CBS) brings a new lively format where contestants competes in side the show and show lovers (audience/fandom) competes outside as spoilers to leak the information inside out. The transformation in TV content has affected audience activities and engagement with the medium in numerous ways, moving to a lean forward approach other than sit back approach as practiced by passive audience (Urichho: 2004). Fiske (1987:73) confronts the concept of TV audience as passive consumers and states; television audience might be incapable of influencing the content of TV programs, but the involvement with medium requires significant forms of audience engagement, such as individual viewer interpret TV text in accordance with socio-cultural frameworks to construct meanings to the text, social viewers (set of social group ex family, friends) that discuss TV text with friends and peers to find shared meanings and insights of cultural significance. Corner (1999) explains the pleasure of para-sociability, the enjoyment and excitement we derive from discussing TV content, Jenkins (2000) terms those discussion as water cooler conversation, a natural desire to discuss, express and exchange ideas. However, varied content appears on living room screen and all must not be relevant to an individual or a set of social group. Content must do more than to appear on TV to distinguish itself for better cultural relevance. ( Lotz, 2007:35). She suggests phenomenal TV that lays on the foundation of selected themes and topics that appears on multiple or varied outlet. Programs that achieve special conversation and break the cluttered media are relevant; they gain attention by word of mouth and resonates culture in many ways. As discussed in this section TV has come long way from traditional broadcast model and activities such as distribution, malleable content and changes in production techniques has changed the medium and has produced a new avatar. Transmedia storytelling has distributed content at different platforms with varying technology (specific medium with specific technology ex matrix film {different technology} book {different technology}) and national identity content to be transformed and adjusted in accordance with socio-cultural framework (American Idol in US Indian Idol in India). 1.3.3 TV in the post network era L.A. Times cites post network era as age of fast food TV.(Times, 2005).As Amanda describes, Television as a medium to be organized around networks(Amanda D lotz,2007:5)Lynn spigel cites a more comprehensive phase of TV in the post network era, ( Spigel, Lynn and Olsson,2004:2) indeed, if TV refers to the technologies, industrial information, government policies and practices of looking that were associated with the medium in its classical public service and three network age, it appears we are now entering the phase that comes after TV. Lynn Spigel notes TV to be reinventing in numerous ways, new platforms, channels; multiplicity of visual text at alternative medium has given many ways to think, what TV will be? The way we are experiencing TV needs to be addressed and how we will perceive TV in future needs to be defined. The social aspects clubs with the cultural, economic and institutional aspect to define the broadcast model which vary from place to place. TV cultivates sociability in many ways, Lull (J.Lull:1990) described TV as a vital force in constructing and maintaining interpersonal relationship between family and social units interacting normatively. Antonio(2008) adds audience decodes message on the basis of their identity and background, he adds Media are hegemonic institutions that work to secure social consensus by incorporating dissent and conflict(Antonio Gramsci,2008) Lull and Antonios argument can be seen with reference to the potential social and cultural environment within the medium context, that facilitate sociability among the viewers in the post network era. Technological innovations and society as a whole have been affecting the ways and means viewers experience TV and entertainment in general. As Amanda D lotz cites websters (Amanda D lotz,2007:15) who argues programming multiplicity resulting in audience fragmentation and polarization as new media make content available at different mediums. Cable networks creat es audience loyalty by associating themselves with a kind of genre combining with old genres to niche demographics of TV(Turner, 2001:4-6). Necessary modification and adjustment in digital transition technologies has shifted TV in to a new horizon. Henry Jenkins (Henry Jenkins: 2000, Amanda D lotz :2007:7) calls it a post network era where convergence is intersecting the broadcast model and revolutionizing the society. But I argue TV is certainly not loosing its grab, but the ways and means which are employed by the viewer as in how and where to view has convoluted, how we think and understand TV. I would rather call it a hybrid medium, whose offerings are becoming unique and platforms to showcase those offerings are versatile. Though many contemporary TV scholars tried to figure out TV in the post network era, many relates it to a cultural experience others technology. William Urichhio, maps broad changes in TV technology from old TV console to smart TVsystem. (Urichhio,2008:163) . Michael Curtin relates TV on more cultural grounds and argues that TV needs to be studied cross culturally to understand how TV has evolved in different cultural, economical, and industrial and regulatory conditions.( Michael Curtin,2008:272-275). The entire culture to view TV has been transformed. During the network era (before post network), sources were scarce and no alternative ways were available to receive TV content other than the network channels. With the emergence of the post network era, the restricted access reduced and more options got available to choose from. Technical innovations ranging from recording programs on DVD to downloading videos has brought up a change, with new ways of distribution. Networks delivered content irrespective of what, when and where at a minimal cost resulted a revolutionized way to view content. Lynn Spigel notes changes in programming and sponsorship are met with similar changes in the entire culture of watching TV.(lynn Spigel,2008:5).Jenkins transmedia storytelling, explains TV content is so designed that appear on various media outlet subjects for a flexible consumption (Henry Jenkins,2000:25). Convergence among TV, phones , social platforms offered at internet, presents a limitles s expansion of television presence by enabling reception of TV content almost anywhere. (Amanda D lotz,2007:50). Social platforms such as daily motion and you tube has redefined the role of networks by harnessing online video content. You Tube, when launched streamed about 35 millions video a day and drew the double size of audience (Los angles times.com:2006). As Amnda T Lotz cites Adam Berry, VP of bright cove, who explains online videos as treasures, its not only meant to watch your favorite shows, but to watch whole bunch of stuff which you havent seen. (Amanda D lotz,2007:137). Convergence culture(2000) proposed by Henry Jenkins offers distribution of national identity content for global distribution limiting the boundaries of exclusivity resulting in availability of visual text on multiple platforms and resultant trans media culture. TV in the post network era has offered flexibility in what, when and where to view and has opened up a vast arena to the audience, to practice TV viewing in different ways. TV text fuels a dominant way of thinking among its viewers; it communicates social beliefs and value of the society. I argue TV reincarnates with every technology, with every effort of Network/TV channel content to present diverse text across globe; making it available at different medium and viewers to make sense of visual text within the context of social, economic and cultural condition. The three elements which I described above; technology, Producers and viewers, moves in a cycle and has set the conditions for POST NETWORK era. 1.3.4Network/TV channel content on social network Social element might not be new to TV as J. Lull says, TV cultivates sociability in many ways (J.Lull:1990). But the concept of watching network/TV channel content online on social platforms has added a new social paradigm to television studies. Experiencing TV text with other functional tools embedded in social software like voice chat, peer ratings and integration with social media (networking sites) has engaged viewers in a unique innovative way. In past, many ethnographic researches have shown that people enjoy watching television as a part of socializing in groups. According to an ethnographic research conducted by Lora Oehlberg, Nicolas Ducheneaut, James D. Thornton, Robert J. Moore, Eric Nickell (2006), TV can foster multiple forms of sociability. To analyze the patterns of interaction of TV text, they categorized TV sociability as : direct (e.g. when chatting with friends and family while watching network channel content) or indirect (e.g. when discussing previously viewed programs). Mc luhans (1874) global village conveys the sense of synchronicity created by the electronic medium(TV radio) and the living room,he depicts an event where Television is ON, so as the sharing and continuous participation of members of living room, who discuss, debate and experience TV text in many ways. Mc Luhans(1874) global village highlights two factors that has formed the basis for communication in the current age: sociability in groups and simultaneity between the group and the medium. The idea of sociability and simultaneity in the internet age is same, what has changed is the positioning of participants and members, which has introduced complexities in the current communication process. Castells(2000) visionary idea of culture of real virtuality, explains this phenomenon better in which he explains we are not living in a global village, but in customized cottages globally produced and locally distributed. (Castells 2000: 370). Kitchen(1998) cites that one of the major outcome of internet is the interactivity of online relations based on reception of TV text. (Kitchen,1998:15). Henry Jenkins(2006) explains in convergence culture television provides fodder for so called water cooler conversations and online forums offer an opportunity for participants to share knowledge and expression (as original;Henry Jenkins, 2006:21). TV content leverage and integrate the wisdom of social networking, the combination of duo has resulted into a new type of interactive, participative and user-directed environment. Jenkins cites young people, forming communities using popular (social) media to expand their collective wisdom and from many types of publics (groups) to interact in an innovative unpredictable ways. For instance, in his very first chapter he takes us to the secret world of spoiling survivors, where he outlines the impact of reception of TV show survivors. He analyzes survivors fandom interaction with spoilers of the show calling it collective intelligence in practice.(Henry Jenkins, 2006:28).As he cites Pierre Levy who argues that one person might not know everything, everyone knows something that can bring some relevance to the discussion and leads to participation. (Henry Jenkins, 2006:26). In another case study, Jenkins(2006) discuss American Idol (a reality TV show made for audience participation). He cites participation in such communities not only leads to brand affiliation but empowers a control to assert their demands, which influences the show to move forward.( Henry jenkins:2006:80). American Idol popularity shows us the diversified context adopted by the network/TV channel producers to shape the programming and distribution to suit the consumption patterns of consumers. This reminds me of Derek Compare(2002) who says media content comes as malleable packages other than a seamless continuous narratives. The kind of changes introduced in programming gives a platform for interactivi ty and participation. Analyzing interactivity and participation jenkins writes, Interactivity refers to the ways that new technologies have been designed to be more responsive to consumer feedbackParticipation, on the other hand, is shaped by the cultural and social protocols (Henry Jenkins, 2006:137). So, the creators (content producers) decide interactivity, and users (content consumers) may interact with what is given where as participation allows users to become creators and consumers of the content. In this way both network operators and non network players create and capture value while dramatically changing how consumers interact about TV text on social platforms. With the rise of social platforms and new technological innovation, TV is changing. How we are experiencing TV is also transforming with introduction of online virtual communities (social publics) accessed by personal devices like mobile phone, I phones etc. Social publics form communities that extend beyond friends and peers, neighborhood, cities, countries, and across the continents. As Natalie Klym and Marie Jose Montpetit(2008:2) cites Robet putman(2000), who explains the phenomenon of social as a function of consuming and engaging in amusing activities in public spaces experiencing TV as Mc Luhans(1874) living room experience. Personalization of media device leads to granulation of media space where publics practice Mc Luhans(1874) living room experience on castells(2000) social morphology of networks. Putmans(2000) idea of social engagement contributes well to the TV experience on social networks and explains how individualization of technology enables contacts on social media. Emerging social platforms like joost , Hulu and many other embeds functional features like blogs, discussion forum , chat session and program rating to make online videos more meaningful and interactive. Facebook, orkut and Myspace has recently added video applications to adjust and adapt with more user generated environment. As Natalie Klym and Marie Jose Montpetit(2008:7) adds social network becomes a virtual operator performing a customized and personalized programming habits based on what a user or a community may like. For example, you tube automatically share an individual ratings, favorites, and more on Face book, Twitter, and Google Reader with YouTube Autoshare. (You tube). You Tube, a user generated social platform has grown accustomed to watch video on personal devices. Personal devices are paired and networked and results in a global virtual community, where every individual is interacting with every other. In this sense, personal devices (PC, laptop, I phone) etc and its personalization can be viewed as the foundation of new way to access TV content. Though still at early stage, but this new frontier of TV is evolving at a very faster pace and needs to be researched more. 1.3.5 Technology and social framework Technology has transformed the way, TV is today. Not only the structure, but TV as a medium, culture, industry has lot been changed since its inception. Though, TV has a long standing history with reference to technology; but my area of study concentrates on contemporary social technological innovations and models appropriate for understanding Tv text in relation to social media. Technology in simple terms: is by the people and for the people. As, Liela Green (2002:3) suggests that society is responsible for the development and deployment of particular technologies. Social determinism counters the notion of technology determinism and states society develops technology for the benefit and progress of human kind. I agree to Liela greens view and present an account Mc luhans technological determinism theory to mark the flaws that disturbs the ways in which society and technology interact. The appeal and problems can be viewed in light of a technological determinism theory by Mcluhan(Mc,luhans,1964) where he attempted to explore how culture is affected through various types of media? McLuhan believed that advances in technology of a medium will lead to change in a culture (Mc luhan,1964). From this, McLuhan states that a culture is affected by a kind of medium are being employed, that can be TV, radio, newspapers and magazines. Each medium defines, it own kind of standards like, in order to get information one can turn on TV, which is the most dominant form and can easily be absorbed by ear and eyes where as obtaining news over the Internet on the other hand can make the process complicated for those who are not computer literate. And in that case, if a person cannot translate experiences into the conscious then those experiences will be repressed and the message will be lost. Such was the case with, Alltop, which launched its Personalized Feed Reader. Alltop is an online magazine rack that

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