Wired TV: Laboring over an Interactive Future

Wired TV: Laboring over an Interactive Future

Wired TV: Laboring over an Interactive Future

Wired TV: Laboring over an Interactive Future


This collection looks at the post-network television industry's heady experiments with new forms of interactive storytelling--or wired TV--that took place from 2005 to 2010 as the networks responded to the introduction of broadband into the majority of homes and the proliferation of popular, participatory Web 2.0 companies like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.

Contributors address a wide range of issues, from the networks' sporadic efforts to engage fans using transmedia storytelling to the production inefficiencies that continue to dog network television to the impact of multimedia convergence and multinational, corporate conglomeration on entrepreneurial creativity. With essays from such top scholars as Henry Jenkins, John T. Caldwell, and Jonathan Gray and from new and exciting voices emerging in this field, Wired TV elucidates the myriad new digital threats and the equal number of digital opportunities that have become part and parcel of today's post-network era. Readers will quickly recognize the familiar television franchises on which the contributors focus-- including Lost, The Office, Entourage, Battlestar Gallactica, The L Word, and Heroes --in order to reveal their impact on an industry in transition.

While it is not easy for vast bureaucracies to change course, executives from key network divisions engaged in an unprecedented period of innovation and collaboration with four important groups: members of the Hollywood creative community who wanted to expand television's storytelling worlds and marketing capabilities by incorporating social media; members of the Silicon Valley tech community who were keen to rethink television distribution for the digital era; members of the Madison Avenue advertising community who were eager to rethink ad-supported content; and fans who were enthusiastic and willing to use social media story extensions to proselytize on behalf of a favorite network series.

In the aftermath of the lengthy Writers Guild of America strike of 2007/2008, the networks clamped down on such collaborations and began to reclaim control over their operations, locking themselves back into an aging system of interconnected bureaucracies, entrenched hierarchies, and traditional partners from the past. What's next for the future of the television industry? Stay tuned--or at least online.

Contributors: Vincent Brook, Will Brooker, John T. Caldwell, M. J. Clarke, Jonathan Gray, Henry Jenkins, Derek Johnson, Robert V. Kozinets, Denise Mann, Katynka Z. Marténez, and Julie Levin Russo


Denise Mann

In a 2005 trade article entitled “The End of Television (As You Know It),” a cable executive reduced the vast cultural-industrial transition then under way to a singular, technologically driven event — the incongruous conjoining of two black boxes — by stating, “The computer has crashed into the television set.” in fact, the situation is far more challenging and elusive to describe, given the glacial pace at which vast bureaucratic organizations like the networks embrace change and the epochal nature of the impact of the Internet and Web 2.0 companies on the traditional television industry. Complicating matters for media scholars engaged in the perilous task of analyzing the operation of network bureaucracies during a period of transformation is John T. Caldwell’s warning: “‘The industry’ is not a monolith controlled by 5–6 giant conglomerates, but a series of dense rhizomatic networks of sub-companies held at a safe distance, loosely structured to flexibly adapt to new labor markets, new digital technologies, and consumer unruliness.”

Max Weber’s turn-of-the-twentieth-century theories regarding bureaucratic structure and its formative influence on the genesis of capitalism inform a recurring strain of later critiques of the workplace as a site of cultural sameness, from Frankfurt School theorists Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer to American sociologists David Reisman (The Lonely Crowd) and William Whyte (The Organization Man). the legacy of sameness can be seen in today’s . . .

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