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 references to the show. The sites essentially expand on the
experience of television for the viewer. Any individual can find any information
they require about a series, specific episode, or character. The information on
characters can include both their fictional roles and their real-life situation.
(Sites devoted to some of the better looking actors and actresses seem to be a
very popular attraction). Therefore, if someone wanted to inquire about an
aspect of a series, which will most likely enhance his or her experience for the
show, the information is available in minutes. For example, I was curious as