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Big Revolution - The slow blurring of TV and tech

Welcome to Wednesday's newsletter. Apologies for the lateness of today's edition — it's just one of t
June 12 · Issue #443 · View online
Big Revolution
Welcome to Wednesday’s newsletter. Apologies for the lateness of today’s edition — it’s just one of those days with a lot to squeeze in, unfortunately.
— Martin from Big Revolution

Big things you need to know today
  • Facebook says it will not take down a deepfake video of Mark Zuckerberg. The short clip was posted to Instagram by artists who developed it for an exhibition in Sheffield, UK. Facebook’s stance here is the same as the recent manipulated ‘drunk’ Nancy Pelosi video. However, CBS has asked for it to be taken down for trademark violation (it’s still up as I write).
  • A hacker apparently tried to extract a ransom for the return of 18 hours of unreleased Radiohead material. The band has responded by making the music available for 18 days, for £18, with all proceeds going to climate crisis activists Extinction Rebellion.
The big thought
A phone, in a good place to watch Spielberg's forthcoming show. Credit: Tim Stief on Unsplash
A phone, in a good place to watch Spielberg's forthcoming show. Credit: Tim Stief on Unsplash
The slow blurring of TV and tech
Back about nine years ago when internet-connected TVs and the idea of apps running on TVs became a thing, I envisioned a future where the lines between TV and software blurred.
I imagined gameshows that were played live by the viewers at home via apps, dramas that personalised their content to the viewer’s tastes, news shows that could feed in video direct from viewers to show live from major incidents… If TV was going online, surely it would adapt to this new medium?
For the most part, this has been slow to happen. But we can see flickers of it here and there. HQ Trivia may not be a gameshow on TV, but it’s a gameshow on your phone in a TV-style format that absolutely could be ported to traditional TV.
Black Mirror’s Bandersnatch episode showed how interactivity could work for TV drama. Even if it was far from perfect, it offered foundations for others to build on.
And this week, it was announced that Steven Spielberg’s new horror series will only be viewable after dark in your local timezone. Coming via a new shortform video subscription service called Quibi, the multi-episode story will use your local time to decide whether you can watch or not.
This is a bit of a gimmick, but again, it’s TV and and tech merging in an interesting way. What next, a drama that requires you to travel around the country or the world to see in full? That seems a bit extreme, but someone should try it.
The slow but sure arrival of that blurring of the lines between TV and software shows that we can often have a good idea of what the future might hold, even if the exact form it takes, and exactly how soon, can evade us.
Related point: ‘flying cars’ are moving closer to reality, even if they’re essentially small planes, arriving years after many 20th century sci-fi writers imagined they would.
One big read
Internet Trends 2019 Internet Trends 2019
Mary Meeker’s annual slide deck of internet trends is here. Always worth a rifle through to keep up with the big picture of the internet sector today.
That’s all for today...
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