Friday, November 18, 2011

Smart TV and Split Attention

I don't want to waste much effort on trivialities, but regarding Gruber's semi-recent post:
Imagine watching a baseball game on a TV where ESPN is a smart app, not a dumb channel. When you’re watching a game, you could tell the TV to show you the career statistics for the current batter. You could ask the HBO app which other movies this actress has been in. Point is: it’d be better for both viewers and the networks if a TV “channel” were an interactive app rather than a mere single stream of video.
This is not actually a universal good for viewers.  They'll probably like it and want it, but if there's one thing I have learned about myself, it is simply:

Splitting my attention between things means I don't remember either thing.

Worse, the things that a smart channel offers me in Gruber's vision—the things actually related to the show I'm watching—are useless trivialities.  If I had smart TV and lacked the discipline to avoid these side quests, then I wouldn't gain anything out of my screen time.  I'd forget the answers to the fleeting distractions, and also not be able to remember what I was watching in the first place.

I can say all this because I already know what the price of distraction is.  I refuse to pick up my iPod while watching things, no matter how interesting it seems at the time, because I'd rather focus on the show or movie.

What makes me happy?  It's not the Internet; it's not TV; it's not apps; it won't be all three of them rolled together into smart TV.  However, a smart TV done well will still be a success in the market.  We'll find out sooner or later whether Apple did it well.  It's almost certain that they'll try.

No comments: