If you like thinking about TV I want to make sure you didn’t miss last month’s special section in the The New York Times titled TV Transformed (October 5)–it’s still relevant though, given the speed television is moving, it may not be for long!
There’s something for everyone in it, including data on consumption habits of millennials, Farhad Najoo on the dynamics of social TV, Noel Murray on how young people see the Internet as a farm system for Hollywood, John Koplin on the cable TV bundle, Terrence Rafferty on how changing viewing patterns and platforms are influencing how writers construct plot, and Jeff Greenfield in an essay titled “Up From Vacuousness” making a case for a three cheers for television rallying cry.
I want to give a special shoutout to a piece that speaks to the interests of this blog, Searching Deeper on Online Video by Greag Beato which informatively describes where we are in our ability to search online TV deeply. “Click on a search box at Netflix, and you can search on titles, people, and genres. With Hulu, your choices are titles and people. With HBO Now, you can search on titles, and that’s it. If you’re looking for something more specific, like scenes from “The Sopranos” that depict Tony eating dessert, fuhgeddaboutit. You’ve got to try YouTube for that…” But according to Diane Tryneski, HBO’s executive vice president for technology and chief digital officer, “in time…you’ll be able to search on ‘hug it out’ and jump to the exact instance in ‘Entourage’ when the agent Ari Gold first uttered that phrase. Or maybe you’ll be able to get a list of links to every scene in ‘The Sopranos’ that takes place in Silvio Dante’s strip club, the Bada Bing. But not yet.”
The closest thing to this kind of pinpointing ability is the news archive at the Internet Archive (comprised of 700,000 episodes of television news programs that have aired in the United States since 2009) where programs can be searched by the closed captions that are on all segments–names, words, or phrases searched take you to the exact spot in the video, rather than simply dumping you at the beginning of the program to wade in from there. “The holy grail of video search is not just to return links to videos that contain the contents sought, but to link directly to the spot in the video where that content exists.”
This piece is exciting. It focuses on what TV search is not capable of yet only to predict the imminent which, according to Ms. Tryneski, is robust access to the rich metadata of internet TV–from specific words to props to clothes to car crashes and helicopter rides, across programs, channels, and time. And she seems to believe the imminent is very soon. Three more cheers!
If your online access to the whole section is limited go into Lexis Nexis from the Penn Libraries homepage. Once there select The New York Times and search “TV Transformed” with the date (October 5, 2015) and all 10 articles in the section will come up.
Photo illustration: Cristiana Couceiro; Photography: Steve Bonini