The Tyranny of Digital Distance – #WEB207June 12th, 2012 by Paula Lay
Part 3 – this weeks reflection of the digitisation and convergence of television via Tama Leavers paper, “Watching Battlestar Galactica in Australia and the Tyranny of Digital Distance”.
Has your viewing been impacted by the problem of ‘digital distance’ and, if so, how? Were you forced to find a way around the problem by less-than-legal means?
I often don’t contribute or search for content that has overflowed from the television screens, so this is usually not a problem. However most international shows that I do watch is by less than legal means – for a better viewing experience – at a time that suits me, without advertising disruptions. In the past, this digital distance had posed a problem (such as the screening of ‘Lost’. It was behind US times, and channel 7 would change the viewing times so you’d never know when the show was scheduled. Viewers would miss out on vital episodes that unveiled new clues and would have to go online to find out more – only to be exposed to spoilers and new content from US based blogs and fan sites. Overflow is definitely a factor in the creation of digital distance, otherwise, I don’t think it is a major problem as it used to be now with P2P/bit torrent sharing.
Do you talk about television programs socially, either face-to-face or online? Have you noticed that it is getting more difficult to do this, because different people make their own schedules or watch episodes before they have been broadcast on Australian television?
Yes, both face to face and online. I may talk with friends or colleagues about programs – but I think we are now at a level of consciousness about time shifted viewing experiences. We don’t blatantly start out a conversation discussing the ins and outs and the shock values of shows watched. Each conversation now begins with a statement to determine whether or not you can proceed to talking about the said show. “Have you watched the latest episode of… ?”
I watch Amazing Race Australia (legally) via the shows online portal, and was amazed that they had a thumbnail of the eliminated team right next to the latest episode. Any viewer (okay, this happened to me!) who hadn’t yet viewed the latest episode would already know how the show ended because they are exposed to what happens next. This reduces the viewing experience because now you know what to expect and aren’t surprised when the ending occurs.
I think time shifted viewing will become the norm in the future, and asking people in social circumstances about whether they watch the show or not will become secondary nature.