Mar 9, 2009

Digital Convergence & Interactive Television

The idea of interactive television was born long before the Internet era, but it never really emerged.

Why? Television programming was designed to be the opposite of interactive. The medium centered around lulling viewers into passive submission, with mesmerized minds wide open to the influence of entertainers, talking heads, and commercials. All of this helped to perpetuate our growing consumer economy, which was not really a bad thing, right?

It appears that interactive television is re-emerging. Today, DISH Network announced the premiere of HISTORY Interactive, "an enhanced 24/7 interactive (iTV) experience." A collaboration between HISTORY and Ensequence, DISH TV customers with an OpenTV-enabled receivers can watch the Battles BC series beginning Monday, March 9 ET/PT.

So now what?

To get a better understanding of this concept, I dug up some information and found myself somewhat entertained by the process. Take a look:

Interactive Television: A Short History Interactive Television Alliance
(Scroll down to the history section)

A "must-see" gem from 1998:
Welcome to Digital TV: A Cringely Crash Course, Robert X. Cringely, 1998, PBS Online

This interactive presentation includes a nice overview of the history of television. It also includes a letter written in 1998 by the late Fred Rogers, of Mr. Roger's Neighborhood. I love this quote:

"...Imagine how much more meaningful any television can be when children have a caring person sitting right there beside them ... someone who wants to listen to their questions or comments ... someone who encourages their careful looking and listening and learning! That's what I call "interactive."

"We're glad to be your neighbors, and we applaud all the "interactive" ways you and your family are using television." -Fred Rogers
Interactive Television Production Mark Gawlinski, 2003

The Road to Convergence: Network Transformation and IP
David Russell, Converge Digest, 5/17/06

Development and Current Issues of Interactive Television in the UK
pdf Barbara Katz, 2004(?)

Blog: bitdamaged - Mike Ryan, Interactive Television Specialist

Translation Please: Broadband cable TV technology explained by Leslie Ellis
Leslie's blog is a treasure of technical information related to trends in broadband television. The information on the blog is well-organized and newer technologies are tagged as "Translation Please 2.0". Here are a few of Leslie's posts that I found interesting:

Translation Please 2.0: Digging Deeper into DSG
A Wireless Decoder for Wired People 7/28/08
What's Up in the Upstream 2/23/09
Widget World (Widgets on your Interactive TV)

Another Gem
for techies and the tech-curious:
ODEN: The OCAP/EBIF Developer Network
"Founded in 2007, the mission of the OCAP/EBIF Developer Network (OEDN) community is to drive awareness of and development efforts using the two primary interactive cable television open standards for middleware: OCAP (known to consumers as tru2way) and EBIF."

"As interactive television application development for cable is a (relatively) young field, the initial focus of OEDN is on sharing information and facilitating communication between those "in the know" and those who are new to interactive television development - especially academic researchers and university students. As the community grows and its needs mature, this site will support deeper collaboration.

Update to this post, including information about boxee

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