Friday, June 11, 2010

TV 2.0

So your Blu-ray player lets you watch live somethings and interact with something. I don't care.

Here is what bothers me about people under the age of 30, other than they are under 30, which is bad enough. But their depth of knowledge is extremely shallow. They grew up with the Internet and mmmmorpg (massively massive multi multiplayer), cable and satellite TV and mobile devices, so they think that anything that existed before these things just sucks.

But since this stuff has always existed for you, your life has seen almost no changes. Sure, you have better graphics and HD and faster data transfer, but it's basically the same shit.

But when I grew up and anyone who was born before me, there was nothing even close to the world we have now. So we have a view of the transition from before to now. We can see now from a place outside, from before and inside from now. So our perspective is actually closer to a multidimensional one than yours, having lived inside your whole life. It's okay if you want to draw the obvious similarities with The Matrix, I won't laugh; I did it myself. The Wachowski Brothers, having been born in the 1960's are members of the before group.

So here is a story about something that happened in the 1950's that seems so normal to us today: Interactive Media.

There was a children’s television program, “Winky Dink and You” (and probably others like it, too), that did something pretty cool:
"'Winky Dink' consisted of a colorful folder containing a piece of heavy plastic placed on the television screen and kept there by static electricity.

At the beginning of the corresponding half-hour television show, children were instructed to put the plastic on the screen and trace a pattern on the screen with markers provided in the game. Then the plastic was removed until the end of the show when it was reapplied and the remainder of the message was displayed. The two parts put together formed a known object that usually was described as a way to help Winky Dink escape from danger."
"Praised by Microsoft mogul Bill Gates as 'the first interactive TV show,' the show's central gimmick was the use of a 'magic drawing screen.'" Here was a multi-player interactive electronic experience. There wasn't online participation, but there was a quest and a puzzle and a prize in the solving.

I think it's cool that the theory behind online learning and gaming existed before the Internet, and that people saw the possibilities for social interaction and participation way before Web 2.0.

So the next time you play some online crap on Facebook or enter your location in Foursquare, just remember that some guy in his seventies probably had that idea first. Kinda sucks, huh? Yes, it does.

Click this link to view a clip from a latter incarnation of Winkie Dink interactive television.