Would you like to know more?

It’s not often you can bring up Starship Troopers (The movie more than the book in this case) while talking about television and the internet and how they interact (or don’t). I was reading Ethan Kaplan talking about the tv in his house goes beyond just displaying channels coming through his cable box or movies from his DVD player.

Like it or not, television has become an interactive experience, but not because the broadcasters did anything to curate that. If anything, broadcasters have been sitting on their hands in terms of the possibilities of the bandwidth and platforms they helped put in our homes!

He grabbed my intention by bashing Internet Explorer 6, a plague on web developers that refuses to die, but then he talks about how he watches tv with one eye on the internet. And that’s where Starship Troopers comes in. The movie handles background information by showing little news clips, as if you’re watching tv in the movie’s universe. At the end, the narrator asks, “Would you like to know more?”. I always took that to mean that viewers could somehow interact with the tv and direct it to provide more on whatever they were just watching. And that was 1997. The tv stations still haven’t figured this out. For example, when I watch sports, I usually have my laptop out. Not that I ever put my laptop away, but whatever. If I’m watching the Orioles, I usually have the box score open at ESPN.com on the autorefresh. That way I have instant access to the starter’s pitch count, what this batter did in his last at bat, and all sorts of other relevant stuff. I probably have a browser tab on Baseball Reference to look up more unusual stats, or maybe check something the announcer just mentioned. There’s no reason this has to be separate from my tv-watching. We have a big tv in the living room. It might annoy the wife, but there’s no reason I couldn’t have extra stat feeds running along with the baseball game, or or maybe something else of interest. The issue is probably one of money – the cable providers are afraid of new revenue streams.

Display advertising, temporal advertising (commercials), usage based charges and other economic systems aren’t in tune with nascent usage and thus we have not only an uncapitalized usage system, but also a rather anarchic one.

Not that they’re afraid of new ways of making money, but that they’re afraid of losing control. The old ways of making money with tv are broken. That’s why there have been so many efforts to keep DVRs from skipping commercials and things like that. You don’t have a captive audience anymore. If you bore people, they’re going to do something else. So you have to embrace what people want.