In order to put my burgeoning qualitative research skills, I have decided to do more of a narrative ethnography of Saturday’s proceedings. On this day I attended the panel on digital television titled “Getting It: The Aggressive Defense of New Media & Television Studies”, what follows is my account of the event . . .
After finding my seat towards the back of room 2435, I find myself in a full room amongst other Communication PhD’s and various academics who are both presenting at and in regular attendance of the conference. I immediately take out my trusty iPod Touch in order to live-tweet and my mini-field notebook to fervently record the afternoon’s events.
Back again. Panel 2 of the day on digital television aka "Getting it: The aggressive defense of New Media & Television Studies.
Up now, James Bennett
Retweeted by Faithe Day
As James Bennett (University of London) stands at the podium he begins his discussion (in a delightful accent I might add in the spirit of thick description) with a series of slides on the BBC’s attempts at the 360 degrees multi-platform approach to television. They used this campaign to try and integrate television (conceived of as an old medium) into the interactive digital future.
One of the initial slides links us to http://cowboysorindies.co.uk/ which explores the multiplatform view in more detail.
James Bennett working through the BBC's attempts at creating a multi-platform televisual experience.
Then Bennett explains the discourse around television by examining “Discourse as boundary making”, in which a separation is made between those who are “Getting it” on the inside of television programming that incorporates the digital and those on the outside i.e. living in the past and positing the “linear view” of television.
The inside & outside of television discourse. "Getting it": the interactive digital future and "not": the TV as a box to watch shows
What stood out the most to me in this discussion and the other talks that day was this discourse on getting it and where and to what television is moving. Bennett showed the video of BBC’s “Where Next” campaign which gave a peak into how innovations such as HD television are being presented as a part of this digital future.
The BBC asks "Where next?". The question is then how can New Media studies inform television and vice versa.
For Bennett, the digital cannot just be “bolted on” to the television medium but should be thought about as part of the hybridity of television. This hybridity is picked up with the next presenter (Shanti Kumar of UT Austin) who opens his section with a discussion of the worldwide shift from analog to digital television. He states that this shift should make it not a question, but an apparent phenomenon that television is (going) digital and/or a hybrid of the digital and analog.
This switch brings about certain digital dividends i.e. the amount of spectrum made available because of this shift (HD tv, etc). Kumar’s section focuses on the global perspective, referencing specific examples from India in how this plays out within a nation.
Shanti Kumar responds w/ focus on global regulatory forces shaping TV-digital links
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Moving into analysis, Kumar also posits that we should continue to utilize conjectural analysis, but we still must be aware of the ways in which certain conjectures are informed by the homogenizing privileges of western ideology. In addition:
Kumar stating that the new discourse of digitization reflects harmonization instead of homogenization/heterogeneity.
Skipping ahead, later in the evening Vicki Mayer (Tulane University) picks up on Bennet’s speech and the discourse of “getting it” and the “aggressive defense” that the panel title references in terms of the divide between generations and new media/television studies.
Vicki Mayer on the Bennett's "Getting it" and the defensive strategies of cultural production between generations.
While listening to her section, I pulled out quite a few questions and quotes. One that struck me was the question of whether or not there is a divide forming between TV and New Media scholarship, and are scholars now expected to “cultivate new media’s difference and tv’s otherness”?
She ends her section with a Hegelian conception of television and new media.
Mayer on thinking about television and new media as part of a dialectic. Interested in the synthesis.
The panel moves on to the final panelist Ethan Tussey (Georgia State University) who maps out the multitude of slippery slope/technologically deterministic arguments about how new media is affecting the masses. He goes on to discuss his own work on workspace media (break room television, social media in the cubicle, etc) through the use of slides and discussion. Media in the workspace is seen as becoming a part of the “procrastination economy” while also becoming even more ubiquitous due to the rise of mobile media.
Following the various panelists, there was discussion in which questions about how academic work is used outside of academia and the fruitfulness of incorporating the digital and television. On a lighter note, there began the re-occuring theme of age from the panelists and on the twitter feed.
Fascinating recurring theme at
#TV21CC: mid-career scholars saying their studies and tastes now make them feel like "old fogies"
Retweeted by Faithe Day
There was so much more that I noted, but for the sake of flow I left out some things (check the hashtag to see other conversations). It was also during this time and before I left that this discussion of age re-oriented me to how my status as digital native influences the way that I think about and study television. In many ways the television has become a purely digital product for me, as I haven’t regularly viewed television from a physical television in quite a few years. Due to this, many aspects of television (cable vs. broadcast, analog to digital, etc) very rarely occur to me. This panel made me re-orient my views on television as just a screen to think about the ways in which generation and media climate influence scholarly work and discourse. Yet, with one more panel still bubbling in my mind, I will take another blog post to flesh out thoughts about my work in reference to the conference.