I think Honeycrisp, Inc.’s new product could prove both revolutionary and detrimental to our society. Firstly, let’s take a peek at the revolution. Imagine this world: You switch through the channels, not really sure of what you’d like to watch. This channel surfing could potentially go on forever. Imagine this world: You sit down, hit a button, and the perfect TV show comes on. How could it get any better than that?
Initially, this seems like a great idea. It eliminates any beating around the bush, but it also mostly eliminates the possibility for branching out into diversity. Many people have been channel surfing, only to find that “nothing is on’ and decide on a random channel. This random channel could spark a whole new interest in individuals. Having the ability to happen upon new information and entertainment has been part of the excitement of media. Of course, we all have our favorite channels. However, every once in a while we choose to watch something new, something that we aren’t sure if we have an interest in. With Honeycrisps’ new product, this would be difficult.
If society thinks it has seen fragmentation of media consumption, just wait until this product becomes available. Media stations will have to specialize, or narrowcast, depending on trends created through the product. Of course, stations already have niched, changing their programming to meet the interests on a national or even regional scale. However, niching based on an individual scale has yet to be achieved. This would be the result of this product. Each individual would contribute to the trend at an even higher rate than they do now. Potentially, we could find less and less content become available through television as a result of niching if individuals cohered to a national trend.
On page 37 in the text, the concept of taste publics is discussed. I think this is a major concern for people, especially the younger generations who are already enveloped in social media. Teressa Iezzi makes a great point when she suggests that the ability to function outside of our comfort zones will be diminished (p 37-38). By means of this product, James Poniewozik’s, mentioned on page 38, image of niche lives could be realized. By closing off into personalized niches, people will slowly move away from communication with others outside of their interests. Conversations that do happen outside of similar interests might not be as high quality as they could be if both people involved were exposed to a larger variety of subjects through the media.
Some argue that social media allows people to connect to others outside of their interest groups. This is true. However, it’s also true that communication through social media has hindered face to face communication. So, although social media would indeed help connect people across interests and social media conversation would see a possible rise in popularity, face to face interpersonal, organizational, and just about any other type of communication would be hurt. Eventually, we could be a society without human interactions other than through technology. This is an extreme idea, one that won’t be incurred any time soon. However, I think it’s important to realize the importance of face to face communication and the harm that could come through it as byproduct of this product.
Now, despite the outcome of this product, the likelihood is that it will come into existence and permeate the lives of society’s people. Ignoring the content already covered in this report, this is how TV will be: We’re going to be able to see a better estimation of the interests of the people. Currently, we can see ratings and such of TV shows, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that people are watching them. There are a lot of people who, for example, keep the TV on as background noise as they go about their day. This “viewing’ is integrated into the calculations for ratings, although it potentially has little to do with whether the viewer actually likes the show or not. This product will allow for more accurate ratings. TV programs will be able to see what it is exactly that they’re viewers enjoy watching. The shows will, naturally, be altered or added to reflect that information. The result is very narrow topics based on interests.
However, TV programs might be dropped if not enough viewers are watching them. If ratings for a certain show go down after the implementation of this product, said show could be discontinued. How much attention will be paid to the top ranking interests? Will companies focus on less popular interests at all? There is no escaping the niching that will occur with the release of this product, but consumers must be wary. Although TV programming will be much more personalized, it could mean a smaller variety of programs available, despite what your personal interests might be, based off of average interests gathered through interpretations of ratings.
I think you do a great job of laying out the pros and cons of this idea. I certainly love the idea of sitting down on the couch and having the perfect show come on, but what about discovering new shows? If there’s always something great on TV, where’s my motivation to, I don’t know, DO SOMETHING PRODUCTIVE?