Wednesday, April 06, 2005

TV viewing

Last week I enjoyed Aalborg, Denmark, where the euro itv conference was held. While at the university, I visited VR Media Lab, one of Europe's largest virtual reality installations, and played around in its cave. The cave is a small room where continuous images are projected onto side walls, floor, and ceiling and when experienced through lightweight glasses, it felt like a 3D-world. In this picture, I had a go at basket ball game. It was quite tricky so I only scored 4 points… It was pretty cool but I felt quite sick afterwards so I don’t recommend this as an alternative for dessert.

During the conference, it seemed to me that every discussion at least touched upon two topics: 1) social TV viewing and 2) active vs passive TV viewing. The first issue deals with the question: is the TV viewing mostly a collective action or not? Are the TV programmes mostly watched by groups of people, e.g. families or friends or are there loads of single individuals sitting alone in the TV couch? Because the nuclear family is no longer given and the number of singles living alone is quite high, the old notion of TV being a media product consumed in a group has changed.

The other topic that the debate quite often boiled down to is whether TV viewing is a passive or an active action. And if it is a passive one, is that so bad? We’re active and engaged almost all the time in almost every area of life, then would it be so bad if we relaxed in front of the telly? This makes me think of a Swedish stressresearcher, Aleksander Perski, who says that there’s a new addiction around in the modern Western civilization today, namely time addiction. We are time addicts because we are too active and we don’t allow ourselves to recover from stressful events or a couple of hard days at work. Since he takes up the cudgels for recuperation and rest every once in a while, the new word on my mind (in the sidebar to the right) will be time addiction. I’ll think about it when I’m enjoying my vacation on Malta next week.

Curio: There are only two countries in the world that don’t allow divorces by law: The Philippines and Malta, where I’m spending my holiday in two days.

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