And we’re… back in the room

Together, again

Yesterday I saw some wonderful research commissioned by Thinkbox and conducted by COG Research looking at ‘Two-screening’.  That is, using a tablet, laptop or telephone while watching TV.  A lot of research into new technology imagines viewers gleefully joining in with television, perhaps posting a comment on a forum or something like Zeebox while watching The Apprentice.  It’s a bit soulless. If you’re on our own then it helps you feel a sense of community, but if you’re in a group, it could be distracting.

Then I was reading a document written by Andrea Millwood Hargrave for the Broadcasting Standards Council (now part of Ofcom) in 1995 all about scheduling. And she quoted David Docherty, then a largish cheese at the BBC saying ‘very few people watch television on their own.  Most decisions are collective. Most viewing is communal’.

David Docherty

And I thought, yes, well, it might have been true, WAY back in 1995, but satellite TV, the internet and new devices have put the kibosh on that.  These days, apart from big programmes, people spend half their time doing their own thing in different rooms.  Don’t they?

But what this ‘Screenlife’ research found was that two-screens means that the household has come back to the living room.  If you can chat with friends, prepare food (or at least look-up recipes), play a game, or do homework (looking up things on Wikipedia) wouldn’t you rather do that in the same room as the rest of the household?  Looking up from time to time to say something witty about an advert or do your famous impression of ‘Clark    son’.

The research also found that while doing these other activities, you also take in most of what is happening on the TV programme even if you aren’t there only to watch it (probably one of those getting 80% of what you need from 20% of the attention, sort of things).   I’m still reading The Face-to-Face Book by Keller/Faye, which promotes the primacy of conversation (actual talking, not tapping) for advertisers, and really doesn’t appreciate the over-hyped attention paid to online media.  What the COG research suggests is that being able to access Facebook or while watching TV means that, like Schrodinger’s Cat we can be out of the room, and in it, at the same time.

So, the television, and the tablet, bringing people together.  Really together.  Within touching distance.

That’s lovely.

The character who says ‘And you’re back in the room’. You remember.


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