This week's ideas were interesting takes on 'figuring out' what The Network is, as explored from a sociological perspective (Watts) and the 'Silicone Valley Joy' (Anderson). Anderson identified the interesting result of increasingly fragmented viewer- and reader-ships:
Unlimited selection is revealing truths about what consumers want and how they want to get it in service after service, from DVDs at Netflix to music videos on Yahoo!...People are going deep into catalog, down the long, long list of available titles, far past what's available at Blockbuster Video...
And on the idea of niche interests, cultures of taste are changing (cue Brian Morris!); as people begin to explore far from the beaten path of Post-Apocalyptic Summer Blockbuster #9546, they discover their taste is not as mainstream as they have been led to believe (which Anderson blames on a lack of alternatives, marketing, and hit-driven cultures).
The network is an exciting realm of opportunity for taste cultures, particularly fannish modes of behaviour.
Consider an American system of television production now churning out television series’ with the incredibly high production values akin to epic film. Writers are empowered to produce, executive produce, screenwrite and direct epic television dramas such as Game of Thrones (HBO), with cash from companies with arms in film production.
At the same time, emerging online communication technologies provide for online fan communities – platforms that allow for an extension of the norms of engagement with television texts. Spin-off web series, cast interviews, behind the scenes videos, bonus scenes, series-dedicated forums of discussion – both of these evolutions have, in Graham Blundell’s words, undoubtedly “intensified the experience of drama in a way without cultural precedence”.