The Social Dynamics of TV Watching

Under the category of “And Now For Something Completely Different,” I thought I’d just note in passing that I have a new publication up, not about e-Science or Libraries or IP, but about Television.

Yes, Television.

More specifically, the paper is about streaming television and the social affordances of the viewing space.  I started thinking about this stuff a few years ago at Michigan, and it kept popping into my head, so when the opportunity presented itself, well… I now have a paper about TV.

As an added bonus, if you happen to be in the Boston area this weekend, I’ll be presenting this paper at a free conference called Media in Transition 6, on Saturday at 1:30, on the MIT campus.

Whether or not you can make it, here’s the abstract, along with the link to the full paper, from the conference site:

Network Television Streaming Technologies and the Shifting Television Social Sphere, Elisabeth Jones

This paper builds upon and updates previous work on the social influence of television viewing to account for the novel forms of viewing provided by streaming television services like the ABC Full Episode Player and Hulu. Based on examples taken from those two interfaces, the paper details the relative affordances and constraints that streaming interfaces offer the television viewer, and points to the ways in which those factors might reshape the social impact of television. In particular, the paper highlights three potential impacts of streaming technologies: increasing television’s spatiotemporal ubiquity, shifting the social-spatial dynamics of the viewing area, and encouraging more selective – or perhaps biased – viewing behavior. These thematic findings emphasize the distinctiveness of the social phenomena surrounding streaming television relative to broadcast television and, as such, underline the need for further empirical work on the user-end impacts of streaming.

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