FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Monday, January 24, 2005

The Once and Future TV

As you're surely aware, the big news story over the past 24 hours -- other than the weather and the football playoffs -- has been the death of legendary late-night talk show host Johnny Carson.

When Carson retired from hosting The Tonight Show in 1992, it marked the end of an era in TV entertainment. Now, we're pondering television's very future. The Long Tail blog discusses several emerging Internet-based TV outlets, and how Internet technology, better blogging/podcasting/videocasting capabilities, digital video recording and mass amateurization, will change TV entertainment. David Bollier of Onthecommons.org calls the phenomenon "Make-Your-Own Culture." In a sense, it's an ironic throwback to the days when Johnny Carson hosted a no-budget 15-minute show called Carson's Cellar in Lincoln, Nebraska in the early days of TV... years before he became a cultural icon. Could another Johnny Carson emerge from a TV source that doesn't yet exist? Or was Carson a figure who was unique to his era?

Added to the mix is news of the resignation of FCC chairman Michael Powell. Best known for his involvement in the Janet Jackson "wardrobe malfunction" and other decency issues, Powell presided over an agency that was at a crossroads of regulation issues. The decisions that Powell's successor makes regarding media conglomerates, VoIP, Wi-Fi and fiber optic networks will have an enormous impact on the future of TV, both in terms of technology and content. Where the Internet will be able to fill any voids or offer alternative "programming" remains to be seen.

Sources: CNN.com, C|Net, EMERGIC.org