Experiments in interactive TV haven't done all that well. There are some exceptions, though, it may depend on how you define "interactive." Shows that let people vote on stuff seem to do well, and some people may even consider TiVo-like DVRs as somewhat "interactive." However, for the most part, TV is considered a broadcast system, where people are expected to sit back and watch, while the internet is an interactive system, where people are more likely to lean forward and take part. The folks at PARC (MO: invent the future, let it collect dust, while someone else capitalizes on it) are apparently working on something that might be considered a middle ground: social television. The idea is that people often watch TV in social settings -- with others, rather than alone. However, you have friends elsewhere who are watching the same program and maybe you want to watch it together virtually. There certainly are people who will watch TV shows while being on the phone with someone else watching the same show -- or the more modern variant of using instant messaging. The idea here is to take that even further, and set up a television area where groups in different locations can easily be social while watching the same show. The thing that they had the most trouble with, though, was the lack of body language. When someone turns to face the TV it means they want to watch it and stop talking -- but that's missed in the separation. You have to assume those working on this are taking into account the rise of DVRs. It seems like this becomes trickier when people can schedule their own TV viewing. When everyone watched live TV there was nothing to sync up. Either way, this seems like a slightly more creative approach than typical interactive TV offerings, in that it recognizes that many people view watching TV as a social experience.
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