Television and The Internet
Having already done my fair share of internet surfing, I was excited to finally have the opportunity to do a research paper that involved this vast and seemingly boundless electronic world. It is easy to passively interact with the rest of the world and scan effortlessly through millions of pages of information, some of which is useful, some of which simply takes up space; the problem that many researchers and interest groups face is making sense of the whole thing. What effects does the internet have on people? This question is no doubt an immense one. In this paper I will attempt to explore the effects the internet has on one major aspect of our everyday lives: television. The internet is not only linked to television in the sense that they both convey vast amounts of information, but they both seem to complement each other. The internet is presenting vast amounts of information about our favorite television shows as well as providing an arena for discussion about the programs. I will present to you what is available out there and hypothesize how this can enhance or alter one's experience with television. Included in this paper will be actual responses from individuals around the world who responded to a survey I posted on various internet newsgroups devoted to specific television shows. The most relevant responses are attached as an appendix at the end of this paper.
I will first briefly define the terms that I will use to avoid any ambiguities. When I refer to the internet, I refer to the vast encyclopedia of information presented through a graphical interface as pages, or web sites. Newsgroups refer to a different aspect of the world-wide web. They consist of over ten thousand separate and specific forums or centers where people post comments or remarks and read other's replies or comments. Each newsgroup is devoted to a different theme. For example, there are over two hundred devoted to television; one or two for Friends, one for Party of Five, one for the CBC, etc. Chat groups are an interactive aspect of the world-wide web in which people can talk in real time. There is an unlimited number of channels one can speak on, although there are more popular ones with specific themes; for example, the channel alt.tv.simpsons is a popular channel for Simpsons fans to discuss the show. These are the main aspects of the world-wide web which can handle affairs dealing with television. The broadest, of course, is the internet. I will refer to those who browse the internet as "surfers." (Please note that most of the information I am presenting refers to The Simpsons since it is by far the most popular television show portrayed on the internet, having what appears to be the most web sites, by far the most newsgroup postings, and the most chat lines)
The amount and variety of information available on the internet is beyond comprehension. Television guides from around the world (including TVGuide) are all on the internet in their entirety, in a searchable form including descriptions of the episodes, reviews etc. Features include the ability to search TVGuide for all shows in the next two weeks that have the any given word in it, "shark" for example. This not only increases the amount of television one watches (i.e. they don't miss interesting shows they would otherwise not know about), but most likely enhances the experience of watching the show since they can learn much about the episode beforehand. For example, in the description of the show they might link you to a site that gives you extra background information on sharks. All major networks have their own sites with complete time grids for the week, descriptions of shows and actors and various additional information, such as David Letterman's Top Ten Lists. Countless web sites are also devoted to specific television shows. For example, while performing a search for the show X-Files (a unique name), I came up with over 20,000 direct...
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