In March 2008 The One Point jumped onboard the 'Hulldon' train and went to visit the IP&TV World Forum at Olympia. Two expansive floors of flickering set-top boxes and smart tellys a'pushin' an' a'pullin' multimedia back and forth the Internet. The developmental concepts we were transfixed with that afternoon -- 3DTV without the glasses (which my aching brain thought must have surely been bankrolled by Anadin), 720p streamed on a one meg connection ('Really?' 'Yep.' Prove it.' 'Ahh. That's cool, innit?'), social apps bolted onto television content etc -- are now coming to mainstream fruition. Not all the concepts made it -- not all the companies we spoke to, come to that, made it through the recession -- but an intriguing, interesting and, ultimately, rewarding time, nevertheless.
Rewarding, as we were excitedly developing our own multi-platform project at the time -- HULLFC.TV -- and on the train back home we were feverishly scribbling into our notebooks all kinds of colourful, creative possibilities. Some outlandish, some doable, some (we were to discover later) completely undoable due to Sky's television rights constraints re rugby league content, but that didn't stop us aiming for the stars.
Four years later, and whilst HULLFC.TV quietly allows itself to evolve via televisual trends and user-suggested feedback etc, we find ourselves staring transfixed again; not at the TV, per se, but at all of our shiny gadge. Just a few years ago it seemed miraculous that the mobile phone was capable of so much, but now, whether we like it or not, all of our tech wants to get in on the act and 'talk' to each other -- and there's ostensibly only one under-lining reason powering this. Advertisement revenue.
I purchased The Inbetweeners 3 x blu-ray yesterday. I paid a premium price for the digital copy I could copy onto my PC. Never had any trouble with this before. Iron Man, Hot Tube Time Machine et al all allowed me stick the disc into the computer, press the 'Copy' button and job done. Not anymore. To obtain the digital copy (I'd already purchased) I had to make sure the PC was online, register personal details with a third party I'd never heard of before, download some sort of permission software and -- well, I never made part that stage. Too annoyed with it all, too annoyed that a third party was hoping on board a product I thought I had exclusive rights to seeking to ingratiate its own media 'benefits' into my life, my tech.
There are two ways of looking at this scenario: a positive, consumerist, value for money perspective; and secondly, a dystopian, Minority Report-esque world of overwhelming commercial bombardment obstructing us from the enjoyment of interacting with our tech. A lot of websites are now badly littered with more logos than a F1 driver's overalls; commercial television is quickly becoming unwatchable in real-time due to the amount of commercial content (I endured a 7 minute ad break whilst watching an old episode of The Professionals on ITV4 recently -- goodness knows why), and hence the purchase of all those set-top boxes we espied at that forum capable of recording content increases, which consequently makes a mockery of the commercial content itself: because, the more we pre-record television and FF> through the ads, the less exposure we have to the ads; the less exposure we have to the ads, the lesser its revenue; the lesser its revenue the greater its need for ubiquity; the greater its ubiquity the greater our resentment to it becomes; the greater our resentment, the less we watch them; the less we watch them, the greater its need for ubiquitous exposure etc., etc. As so the illogical, supply exceeding the demand (he says thinking of Adam Smith's 'Wealth of Nations'), counterproductive wheel of disproportionate commercial content rotates and, ultimately, destroys itself.
But here's the rub: someone, or something, is required to finance the production budgets. If it's not ad break (or sponsorship) revenue, then what? Currently, we’re going down the we'll-get-them-one-way-or-another route of, if all the gadgets are 'talking' to each other, then even if the users skip the ads then we'll get the smart telly to stream the ads to their smart phone, or when they rewatch the content via an on-demand IPTV platform, but let's make sure the ads are inescapable, yeh?
Unnecessary media intrusion. Not so much IPTV but why, TV? Why?
I don’t necessarily require my refrigerator to be ‘smart’ enough to know when to order a pint of milk from a supermarket website, but convergent technology is a wonderful thing when its existence is conceived for the right reasons and not for a surreptitious hidden agenda of merely pestering us with even more advertisements. The day my state-of-the-art toaster's microchip starts whining that it can't function properly unless it's mate, the microwave, has a Street View update I'll be booking a one-way ticket to Nepal and joining the Buddhists.