Thursday, April 8, 2010

McPherson's argument for the differences between television and the internet brought to mind a similar distinction between reading a book and playing a video game. While many parents would infinitely prefer their children to be reading books, does reading really offer more 'mind-exercise' than gaming? When one reads a book, one follows a linear thread, passively interpreting language. However, when one plays a videogame, one may be staring at a screen, but simultaneously is making hundreds of decisions a minute. Gaming is much more active than reading.

Similarly, when one watches television, one can passively allow the news, sitcom, cartoon, etc to wash over him/herself without making any active choices, unless wishing to change the channel. A web-surfer, like a gamer, must be constantly deciding what to do next, because the medium will not change without the users' action.

Something else that McPherson touched on is the relationship between the linear forward motion of television and the circular motion of the internet. With the exception of new 'restart' functions on some TVs, television does not have an archive accessible to the viewer: if you miss something, it's hard to get it back. The internet, on the other hand, keeps accessible archives of almost everything; its history is available; even an individual's history is available through a tab or a 'back' button. While television moves exclusively forward in a non-interactive straight line, the internet is a circular web able to be explored.

Emily Martin for Matt's section

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