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How Television Invented New Media

How Television Invented New Media

Sheila C. Murphy
Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Pages: 192
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  • Book Info
    How Television Invented New Media
    Book Description:

    Now if I just remembered where I put that original TV play device--the universal remote control . . .

    Television is a global industry, a medium of representation, an architectural component of space, and a nearly universal frame of reference for viewers. Yet it is also an abstraction and an often misunderstood science whose critical influence on the development, history, and diffusion of new media has been both minimized and overlooked.How Television Invented New Mediaadjusts the picture of television culturally while providing a corrective history of new media studies itself.

    Personal computers, video game systems, even iPods and the Internet built upon and borrowed from television to become viable forms. The earliest personal computers, disguised as video games using TV sets as monitors, provided a case study for television's key role in the emergence of digital interactive devices. Sheila C. Murphy analyzes how specific technologies emerge and how representations, from South Park to Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along-Blog, mine the history of television just as they converge with new methods of the making and circulation of images. Past and failed attempts to link television to computers and the Web also indicate how services like Hulu or Netflix On-Demand can give rise to a new era for entertainment and program viewing online. In these concrete ways, television's role in new and emerging media is solidified and finally recognized.

    eISBN: 978-0-8135-5094-7
    Subjects: Performing Arts

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. Introduction: How Television Invents New Media
    (pp. 1-40)

    As a child I was fascinated by television—not just the programming, which I was enthralled by, but the set itself. The 1970s-era television set I knew as a girl had UHF and VHF knobs for selecting channels, and smaller, stick-like, twistable controls to adjust tint, vertical hold, horizontal hold, and other elements related to picture quality. A speaker was hidden behind a plastic grill and the sides, though they were also plastic, had faux wood-grain patterns on them. This set, a nineteen-inch color model, sat on a cart with chrome legs and “wood” shelves. It was what we now...

  5. Chapter 1 “This Is Intelligent Television”: The Emerging Technologies of Video Games, Computers, and the Medium of Television
    (pp. 41-58)

    This chapter’s title is taken from an advertising campaign for Mattel’s Intellivision, a home video game system that was first launched in 1979–1980. When writing about gaming, television, and computers, I could not resist Mattel’s slogan, which simultaneously encapsulates the bad object status of television and promotes the game system as an engaging and cultured alternative to watching reruns (figure 4). Mattel’s print and television advertisements for the system, which starred erudite pundit George Plimpton, sought to brand the Intellivision as a thought-provoking, “smart” video game system, something that current advertisements for Nintendo’sBrainAgeseries (2005–2007) continues to...

  6. Chapter 2 Is This Convergence?: Postnetwork Television, New Media, and Emerging Middletexts
    (pp. 59-78)

    To further demonstrate how television is central to new media, let us consider three recent texts: the 2006 Emmy-winning episode ofSouth Parkentitled “Make Love, Not Warcraft”; the 2008 ABC Family seriesThe Middleman; andDr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog(2008), a World Wide Web supervillain-musical series launched online and produced during and in response to the 2008 Writers Guild of America strike. Rather than perform straightforward textual analyses of each of these media texts, I suggest we consider them “tutor texts,” following N. Katherine Hayles’s methodology around science fiction and science introduced in her bookHow We Became Posthuman:...

  7. Chapter 3 From Tube to a “Series of Tubes”: Television in and as New Media
    (pp. 79-102)

    I walk down the street, safely encapsulated in my media player’s sound bubble. A dog runs past, chased by its owners, causing chaos on the sidewalk. For a moment I wish I could pause, back up, rewind, replay the scene, as I would if it happened on my television or computer screen. Yet this is not a fully mediated, simulated scene, this is just everyday life in a thoroughly visually and technologically mediated culture. I go home and look up videos of dogs on the Internet, remaking the incident in my imagination. My looking is shaped by my relationship with...

  8. Chapter 4 ALT-CTRL: The Freedom of Remotes and Controls
    (pp. 103-123)

    That video games and those items understood to fit within the video game “phylum” of media—video console platforms, computer games, flash media and other “down time” games, handheld games, games embedded in time pieces or incorporated into other technologies as secondary elements—are a major industry and force in electronic entertainments today is undeniable.¹ But situating video games in relation to television and as an element of television is a less expected claim. In today’s entertainment marketplace, video and computer gamers are the eager consumers who are largely responsible for the rapid growth of the 21.33-billion-dollar gaming industry.² It...

  9. Conclusion: Television Is Not New Media
    (pp. 124-140)

    This conclusion is a departure from the previous chapters, in that it describes new screen technologies that are not fully in place and whose uses are still being determined. Although video technologies and brand logos often encountered on traditional television sets are part of this discourse, the development and use of interactive video systems designed for physical engagement opens up questions that go beyond television. Perhaps these systems are, in some infinitesimal way, a kind of offspring of the convergence between television and new media, though the very biological premise of that framework troubles me. Still, as this book seeks...

  10. Epilogue: On the Matter of Invention
    (pp. 141-146)

    What is invention, anyway? Often it speaks of a certain kind of history or a certain approach to storytelling: great achievements that push forward the human race to some yet-unknown horizon of expectations. It’s easy to picture a stereotypical “inventor” type of person, taught to us from comic books, movies, television. He (somehow the mad scientist inventor tends to be a man) looks a lot like Dr. Horrible, surrounded by lab equipment, his hair tousled by his intellectual labor and the dirty, sweaty work of making something new. This book began with the premise that it would tell how television...

  11. Appendix A: Video Game and Digital Sources
    (pp. 147-148)
  12. Appendix B: Relevant Film and Television Sources
    (pp. 149-150)
  13. Notes
    (pp. 151-168)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 169-178)
  15. Index
    (pp. 179-187)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 188-188)