iThink: Web-based Television

My relationship with TV is a deep-rooted one. I remember being in the first grade — back when I shared a room with my older sister Anne — and my parents gifted us with a tiny — maybe 15-inches — television sans cable. It was a big deal, even without the ability to tune into Nick at Nite

As I grew older, I developed my taste in programming — mostly British or other such things beyond my years. I watched Seinfeld and Friends at ages where I couldn’t possibly comprehend the concepts of being on a break, or being master of one’s domain

In college, TV was the only thing I made time for on weeknights besides studying, friends, and jaunts to IM West. I had upgraded the device itself from a tiny tube-style unit to one of the flatscreen variety. 

Before I knew it, shows like Gilmore Girls and the Sopranos were over, and there was a lull in my screening schedule. 

I’m far from an early adopter of online video. I’m much more comfortable embracing text-based tools and platforms, as well as tools that embrace static visuals. That said, I love a good cute animal video, or other giggle-inducing viral varieties, and I turn to YouTube for all sorts of random things — from Jacques Pepin’s perfect omelet tutorial to a guide to making toum (garlic whip sauce). 

Using YouTube — or any site for that matter — for anything beyond easy amusement or questionably ethical streaming felt weird, but a friend of mine had suggested a video series featuring Michael Cera and Clark Duke that I had to check out. 

Clark and Michael was my first foray into programming produced specifically for the Internet, and while I can’t say that I went chasing after other similar series as a result of watching — and loving — Clark and Michael, I will say that it opened my eyes to the possibilities that exist in that respective space. 

In fact, when I realized that CBS produced and owned Clark and Michael, I figured it was only a matter of time before other media companies followed suit. 

Where I sit now, I spend most of my time on my computer, and only part of that is because of my job in social media. The truth is, my computer has actually replaced almost any desire I ever had to switch on my physical — for some reason I’m tempted to say hardcopy as if I’m referring to books — television. I say almost instead of totally with respect to the desire to turn on the TV because I still thrive off of the ego-bloating satisfaction of watching a show that’s currently in-season on its premiere date, to contribute to the ratings, etc. 

And in that sense, the way I interact with the TV and my programs of choice is still quite different. Instead of calling my mother to talk about what trickery Julian Fellowes has cooked up on Downton Abbey, I turn to Twitter or GetGlue to see what the buzz is in cyberspace. 

With YouTube now cultivating its own content across various channels, and Netflix producing its own series with stars like Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright, my faith in web-based TV grows significantly stronger. I’m especially partial to Netflix for its revival of Arrested Development. I find it interesting that these platforms have turned into providers of proprietary content, whereas the networks have used video streaming to support their existing, more traditional shows. 

What do you think about the future of television? We talk so heavily about printed media — books, magazines, etc. — but we seem to leave the performed media alone. We shouldn’t. What’s your opinion? 

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