Wednesday, April 7, 2010

McPherson and Liveness

“Indeed, many Web sites display a marked inability to keep up with the present, recycling
older stories in order to take advantage of the vast databases which underwrite the Web, old content repackaged as newness” (McPherson 202). When McPherson refers to the Web has having an illusion of liveness due to her idea of volition of mobility, it occurred to me how static the information on the web really can be. While a Breaking News story on CNN is up-to-date, a news program on television at the exact moment will be just as up-to-date as the web article. In fact, while the web offers freedom of movement and choice for the user, the television feels more real in certain situations. For example, during calamities such as the earthquake in Haiti or the recent explosion in the mines, breaking news displayed on television seems to be more “current” in a sense. Content online may be updated with more facts and figures (on the more reputable sites anyway) constantly, but updates are only in the forms of text and images. Often there are clips of television interviews, but they are not exactly “live.” It was interesting to think of Facebook’s Live Feed, and how the webpage does not need to be refreshed for continuous updates of statuses, comments, and friendships. While that feels to be as live as one can get, a friend commented that she finds herself “watching the computer screen” while the Live Feed continually updates. In this case, this liveness acts like a television screen. What brings this back to Web is the freedom the user has to click on each update (statuses, comments, etc.), much like McPherson refers to the web TVs in which she could buy Jennifer Aniston’s sweater after watching an episode of Friends. It brings to light the recent buzz of converging internet and TV, as recent TV advertisements show how to use Twitter on TV, or DivX entering the television market. I wonder whether this convergence will be too complex for consumers, or if it will truly eliminate antiquated media.

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