Espen Ytreberg reports an interview with a Norwegian TV viewer who was describing the experience of sending an SMS and seeing it appear on the TV.

Interviewee: It’s great fun… You get that return message, ’Your message will be screened within so and so long’, right? That’s a real kick, you have to try it too. You haven’t sent a message yet?

Researcher: No, maybe I should try it too…

Interviewee: Yes, yes, yes! You have to experience that for yourself, seeing your words roll over the screen, it’s like ‘Wow, I wrote that’.

The thrill of interaction can be very simple. Every single SMS would appear on TV. This was the ‘guaranteed display’ model of interaction.

That model is no longer possible.

As the volume of interactions rises, the way in which viewers’ contributions are re-presented to them is starting to change. And that in turn changes the viewers’ expectations as reasons for interacting.

The announcement of the new Doctor Who on Sunday generated >1m tweets – way more than could be displayed meaningfully on-screen if the old model was used.

Instead, producers have two choices:
1. Pick out select interactions, and ignore the rest
2. Aggregate interactions so that all are taken into account, but no individual messages are singled out

#1 promotes competitive punditry.

#2 promotes peer-to-peer conversations peer-to-producer conversations.

The BBC went for #1, with a handful of selected tweets scrolling across the foot of the screen.

Neither is wrong. But for shows of any real size, Ytreberg’s Norwegian TV texters will have to be satisfied with a different model of interaction.


Reference: Espen Ytreberg (2009), ‘Extended livefulness and eventfulness in multi-platform reality formats’, New Media & Society 11(4), p.475

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