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The Net versus TV 26 April 2004 Edition
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Hopefully many Aardvark readers (and even more who've never visited this site) will have seen the piece about my recent battles with "the powers that be", documented on the Sunday programme last night.

Comparing this programme with my own account makes for an interesting exercise in comparing then strengths and weaknesses of the two mediums involved.

Clearly TV has the ability to present information in a far more dramatic and animated fashion than the net yet can.

Last night's programme took plenty of advantage of that by using footage of my jetkart and many cut-aways interspersed with interview scenes.

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Those interviews also conveyed far more than the words you'll find printed on the web.

The tone behind the words, particularly in the case of the former US government official added an extra layer of meaning to the comments that were made.

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Compared to this, the internet is a pretty dry and boring medium, which perhaps explains why TV continues to rate well despite the amazing amount of content we all have at our fingertips these days.

However, TV is not without its weaknesses.

The first problem became obvious last night when I received several emails from people asking if I had recorded the programme because they'd missed it.

Yes, television is very much a "coming ready or not" medium, where you have only one chance to catch the material being broadcast. If you're not near a TV or don't have a VCR then you'll end up missing material.

By comparison, the net is an "on demand" medium that will serve up content based on your requests. Given the way our lifestyles are becoming increasingly busied by commitments to work and other activities, this makes the Net a very attractive way of getting some information.

Secondly there's the issue of reach.

Once again, I've had quite a few emails from people outside NZ who want to see the programme -- but TVNZ's transmitters certainly don't reach as far as Europe.

So which is the better medium?

Well clearly we're comparing apples with oranges here.

The most powerful way to deliver entertainment and information is clearly a synergy between the Net and TV.

A site such as TVNZ's repainted portal should be the ultimate way to communicate with the masses -- but unfortunately, as reported earlier, they seem to have dropped the ball.

In the meantime, despite increases in connection speeds and better compression software, video over the net is unlikely to challenge the convenience and quality of broadcast television -- and the constraints of broadcasting schedules means that TV is unlikely to impact internet use any time soon.

However, when the integration and convergence of TV and the Net finally arrives, we will certainly see some dramatic changes to the way both mediums are used.

Right now, I tend to use the TV as "wallpaper" and, when a news item or something else attracts my attention, I often follow-up with a quick search on the web or a browse of the news sites for some alternative perspectives and something a little more in-depth than the typical TV-sized soundbite.

Here's a question for you though: outside of work, do you spend more time on the Net or watching the telly?

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