In “When TV Became Art,” Emily Nussbaum correlates the popularity of programs containing non-linear plotlines and spastic chronology (Lost, Flashforward) to the growing penetration of DVRs. In this sense, the narrative world of television adopted and mimicked the behavior that time-shifting devices encouraged. As television-viewing rituals evolved, the structural and artistic elements of entertainment content followed suit. This makes me wonder what the future of television and its related technologies will look like as programs become even more nuanced and demanding of audiences.
Early this week, Boxee, a social, streaming media center, unveiled several television model-busting applications for its service. The one that piqued my interest the most because it directly relates to product placements, was Qurious, (pronounced “curious”) an app that instantly pulls up information on the actors, songs, topics and products featured on screen. Qurious was developed by students from NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program and brilliantly demonstrates a reconceptualized form of viewer interactivity. Watching television will turn into a more involved experience which emphasizes a structure of engagement that goes far beyond the oft-used recall metrics.
To maintain this level of interactivity and engagement, program content will have to become increasingly multifaceted, transcendent and subtle. Blatant, spoon-fed information and marketing messages will flounder in this television environment because with knowledge-generating technology, audiences will want to seek out information and deconstruct their entertainment. Curiosity is a form of engagement. I can picture the wealth of real-time data that an application like Qurious can provide advertisers as viewers perform search queries. The contemporary television-watching experience does not start and end with the television itself as it now extends to an anytime, anywhere activity.