Beginning a discourse on “Why “interactive tv” failed for decades… based on the invention of Newspapers

Starting in the 1960s there were a long series of utterly failed attempts to create “interactive television”. A structuralist analysis, based on history and McLuhanistic insight, tells us why they all failed – and why there is now an explosion of interactivity that includes video, but does not insert into video. We find out why by looking into history.

Gutenberg began by simply making bibles. He made them cheaper, mass produced, and beautiful. But they were they same basic user experience as hand illuminated crafted books. They were cheaper, gorgeous, and multiple. Others took his technology, and made new things.

The big significant new thing was the invention of the newspaper.

News-letters had been around for some time – Rennnaisance hand written and copied “news of the day”. They were popular, and expensive. Woodcuts also had been around – most popularly, Dürer’s. And the “hedge bibles” of illustrated stories for illiterate priests.

What came suddenly into being was the ability to rapidly (shortening the standard delay of information gathering and production) produce large (a new high high quality cheap display surface)  “thing” that was able to simultaneously present to the viewer pictures, letters, narrative stories, and advertisements. Broadsides, dense text, stuff that people consumed from desire, need, and, want which increased the agency of politics, commerce, and entertainment. The newspaper. And the political pamphlet.

The newspaper “ate” the broadside, the newsletter, the story. These all floated around independently on the surface – the display surface – and existed in new relationships to themselves, their producers, and the consumers.

Now we have the same thing, redux; video is existing “floating around” inside a new environ – more than just a better display surface, but that counts a lot.

The topology of the new environ has many dimensions.



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