Klopfenstein's Evolving Defintion of Interactive Television

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You know, I actually put a lot of thought into this, but I know it can be improved. My working definition of interactive television takes into account that there are various levels of interactivity. I believe a good way to define interactivity is to take it from the perspective of the viewer who becomes a more active viewer. Here is my working definition that might change tomorrow (I posted it on this blog in December 2005:

Interactive television (iTV) is not one service. It represents a continuum of services from very limited interactivity (such as using a remote for TV power, volume and channel control) to more moderate interactivity (such as using an electronic program guide to search for programs), to more sophisticated levels of control recently made available by personal video recorders. An irreversible trend has become quite clear in the last few years: the control of television programs is moving away from the program provider and into the hands of the viewer. Two-way interactive television is yet another example of iTV, but it implies more complexity and modifications in viewer behaviors than do other iTV services.

How does that compare to other definitions of iTV. I'm glad you asked. Let's find out. Interestingly, in searching 28 library databases, "interactive television definition" resulted in one lonely definition: "Video teleconferencing (Interactive television): A course broadcast between two or more remote locations, with live, animated image transmission and display. Faculty and students can interact with each other with no delay." Source: Ann Higgins Hains, Simone Conceição-Runlee, Patricia Caro & Mary Ann Marchel, "Collaborative Course Development in Early Childhood Special Education through Distance Learning," Early Childhood Research & Practice,
Vol. 1 No. 1: Spring 1999, np.

Although the results of that search were dramatically limited by my use of "interactive television definition" (meaning all three words had to appear in succession), even my academic peers had thought this is what I meant by interactive television (I think every professional association in the communication field now "gets it," that iTV is not a fad this time around).

You may use this content (better still, argue with me!), but please cite my ideas as © 2006, Dr. Bruce Klopfenstein. Find any typos? Don't smite me, let me know!


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