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Virtual Living Room

A web site combining TV listings and per-program chat channels.
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(+8, -4)
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I prefer watching TV to watching videos because I know that thousands or millions of others are seeing the same thing at the same time. By watching a video, I merely amuse myself; by watching television, I catch up on what is amusing everybody else.

Having a virtual living room would enhance that experience. But there seem to be many gotcha's about telepresence and online commentary (ask people involved with the "Third Voice" web annotations, for instance.)

Scripted, strongly moderated commentary is great (Mystery Science Theatre 3000, DVD commentaries, Joe Bob Briggs). Small social groups work fine, too. The IRC chat channel [dennisp] describes in the annotation probably wouldn't work for me, either. (Most IRC-like things don't, although I remember an acceptable evening in #mofo watching a Penn & Teller Sin City Spectacular.)

Audio is great for mixing together crowd reactions, text bad. A crowd going "oooh" seems much more fun than fifteen lines of "oooh" in a chat channel. Maybe there are some interesting "text mixing" algorithms that could come out of that; maybe one simply needs to use audio.

Also, of course, I would like a choice of the people I want to hang out with; this is harder than just selecting individuals, because people form groups, and if your selections don't follow these group boundaries, you lose track of conversations.

jutta, May 04 1999


       I have observed this behavior in AOL rooms, and IRC channels. People often have their computer in the living room with the television or more recently a tv tuner. However, I am skeptical about forming 'online' communities based on shared mass media interests.   

       I remember the last time fox had one of those Insane Car Crashes XXIV shows, in an IRC channel of about 140 people, about 15-20 were watching and typing 'oooh' or 'hahahah' or 'that's got to hurt'.
dennisp, Dec 09 1999

       TV is dumb & dangerous. It's pre-fabricated corporate mass-control. Celebrating its dumbness in "virtual living rooms" won't make it any better. I haven't been using TV for anything but news for half a year now, and I'm very happy about that. A sitcom or a talkshow where hundreds of real or fake voices go "OOOH" at the same time actually disgusts me, such open and uninhibited display of herd behavior..   

       Post-show discussion like in newsgroups and chats may have some merit to those addicted to that primitive, centralized medium, but the idea of the collective exhibition of animal instincts during the actual broadcast doesn't appeal to me.
erik, Jul 09 2000

       My, aren't we the sophisticated iconoclast.
bookworm, Jul 09 2000

       On the subject of laugh tracks: The "laugh tracks" in most television shows strike me as totally unnecessary, other than to let the viewer know when they missed a joke. The laugh track either degrades the viewer's intellect by pointing out all of the times where he or she missed the joke, or adds useless repetition to the show. In addition, whenever there is something truly funny in a television show, the laugh track dulls its edge. I think that the laugh track should be eradicated completely. I can list a number of examples where the omission of a laugh track has significantly increased the overall humor of the show. For instance, the Simpsons; the omission of the laughtrack has allowed for subtle humor to be weaved throughout the show. If the laugh track were to be added here, the jokes would be forced to become much more obvious. This way, there are different levels of humor for the more observant mind: One reason why the Simpsons are so popular.
SandMan12, Jul 27 2001


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