3520 TV Theory Lecture 4 Williams� Television Technology by Yearoveryear

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									       3520 TV Theory

Lecture 4: Williams’ Television:
Technology and Cultural Form
      What is new about television?

That the means of communication (distribution and continuity)
have preceded the medium’s content

Result II: extensive borrowing from pre-exiting genres like
drama, film, documentary, news, variety, sport

Result II: the tension between a unit principle (“items”) and a
continuity principle (“flow”)
         Defining the flow concept


Ch. 4: “What is offered is not, in older terms, a programme of
discrete units with particular insertions, but a planned flow, in
which the true series is not the published sequence of
programme items but this sequence transformed by the
inclusion of another kind of sequence, so that these
sequences together compose the real flow, the real
“broadcasting”.
            Levels of flow analysis

Long-range analysis: Grouping of programme categories,
   quantitatively sorted. Finding: different programming
      Teleision as cause,
   policies, commercial/public

Medium-range analysis: The succession of items within and
  between programmes, qualitatively analysed. Finding:
  suppression of connection and contrasts

Close-range analysis: The succession of words and images,
   qualitatively analysed. Finding: effects of repetition and
   instantaneousness
    Williams’ flow experience, quote

Ch. 4B: “One night in Miami, still dazed from a week on an
Atlantic liner, I began to watch a film and first had difficulty in
adjusting to a much greater frequency of commercial
“breaks”. (…) I can still not be sure what I took from that
whole flow. I believe I registered some incidents as
happening in the wrong film, and some of the characters in
the commercials as involved in the film episodes, in what
came to seem - for all the occasional bizarre disparities - a
single irresponsible flow of images and feelings.”
         Williams’ flow experience,
                commentary

Localises the flow experience partly as a feature of technology,
partly as a mode of experience

Description of an experience that is “unfinished and tentative”
has become a canonical statement

Analysis seems more on the out for the definitory experience
than on the lookout for methods or analytical procedures
          Critique of technoogical
                determinism

Formulated in opposition to mass communication effects
research and to McLuhan’s medium theory position
(“unhistorical and asocial”)

Technology is not a cause of effects in society

Technology is not a mere symptom of processes/structures
in society

Technology cannot be isolated from society; it both shapes
society and is shaped by it
            The concept of intention
All technology is used with a certain intention


Intention is collective and societal


Societal developments (mobility, extension of large
organisations) intend communication media with a
corresponding distribution and reach (broadcasting)


Broadcasting then becomes an instrument for social
integration and control
             Mobile privatisation

Consumer capitalism from the 1920s/30s: consumer
appliances for the modern home

Key moment in the development of TV technology: small,
simple domestic receivers

Dispersed and domestic reception matches the privatisation
and mobility of advanced industrial capitalism

Corresponding mentality: TV as the family unit’s window on the
outside world
       Developments after Williams

The analysis of items/segments


The analysis of schedules (units, sequences, styles)


Theories of flow aesthetics: repetition, seriality, modes of
address


Theories of the flow as connecting point between the individual
work and society: “a structure of feeling”
             Criticisms of Williams

Ignores sound

Says little on talk and modes of address

Essentialises the medium despite of himself

Tied to a generational experience of commercial television

More concerned with the work/society connection than with
television itself

								
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