I don’t need two government funded TV channels – I need a wikipedia button on my Sky remote ..

TV remote.JPG

I discussed these ideas when I gave the keynote at the LUCID project earlier this week

and also at forumoxford

There is talk of the Government funding Channel 4 in the UK to complement BBC.


I don’t need a second state funded broadcaster (and more tax spent on layers of middle management)

What I really want is a wikipedia button on the remote.

Why do we continue to define the framework in terms of two broadcasters – a bit like a fight between two dodos – In the end both will become extinct.

It is easier to frame a question from the perspective of the status Quo – when a more disruptive question would be to question the existence of the status quo itself!

To elaborate ..

Most traditional mediums like Television are trying to incorporate some form of ‘controlled interactivity’ – think SMS voting etc etc.

Interactivity is interesting but it is old stuff .. especially if it is ‘managed’ – ex SMS voting

I want ‘non linearity’ in addition to interactivity.

What I mean is: I don’t like linear things(podcasts radio TV etc). I watch almost all my TV ‘recorded’ where I can fast forward not just the Ads but ALSO in some cases the content!

My mind works best with ‘hypertext’ i.e. follows an unpredictable/personal path. Which is my style of absorbing knowledge

Qs is how many people exhibit this behaviour(or may do so in future?)

A wikipedia button on my Sky TV remote would be GREAT but traditional media will not allow it since they like linearity(for advertisements). They fear that I may ‘go away’ – which I well might. But that’s how my mind works .. i.e. I will come back to the provider who allows me this freedom(If Google were to ever design a TV service – I bet it would not be ‘locked in’ in a similar way)

Often, I will scribble a keyword on my blackberry(before wifi at home which makes browsing from phone free) and then see it later.

But I want to ‘break’ the program and go to wikipedia

For example:

I was watching a documentary last night about the Battle of Tarawa and wondered how the island of Tarawa looks today(which you can see HERE )

and I wondered how common this behaviour was(and would be?)

It’s the same problem when I see traditional journalists write articles or blogs.

They don’t provide outlinks (or at least avoid them). In contrast, often you will find outbound links in the very first or second sentences of my blogs i.e. the user could ‘go’ and ‘may never come back’

THATS why I think radio and TV will suffer .. If more people take this behaviour for granted (esp. the younger generation) – the more we see the need for media to change their mindset

Walter adamson added these excellent comments as below

Comment 1 from Walter on forumoxford

Yes convergence implies digital; Non-digital broadcast radio (and TV) is dead, although many players have their heads in the sand.

Now, interesting question comes up – since the only future for radio (and TV) is digital the question of Platform arises – one of Ajit’s current favourite topics.

The means of survival and making money are certainly around the edges of the digital radio network and platform, but the players haven’t seen that at all they just see an expensive and unnecessary investment in going digital and in some cases as it being driven by their “IT guys”.

Because the choice of digital broadcast radio has not been made with the understanding of the monetising platform, but rather just as a “clearer” transmission encoding, then I think digital radio is in for a rocky ride.

It could have been a tremendous leap forward, but is is almost a leap backwards because they face the task of having to convince people to buy a new radio and for what purpose? Clearer signals – thanks mine are already clear enough. The value-add is minor in the perception of most people. If they had have been able to present an “integration” with digital PC iPod etc and convergence through digital feedback etc then whole different story.

In Australia the commercial radio industry has dug a deep hole for itself because they didn’t and still don’t understand that they have made a platform choice and for them they made a horrendous one.

In Australia the only ones excited are the Retailers and that’s because they’re desperate in the current climate for anything of novelty value: “Retailers are excited about the interest digital radio will generate in the audio retail market…


It’s a somewhat parallel story for digital broacast TV including mobile but the industry structure is dramatically different and therefore different forces at play in the platform decisions and politics. But is comes down to the same thing – if it enables frictionless mashing with the digital world then the medium has a future, otherwise not.

Comment 2 from Walter on forumoxford

its about the metadata! digital broadcast streaming whether radio or TV contains metadata streams and those provide a big key for convergence, feedback and integration with your wiki key.

In this case presume that Battle of Tarawara tagged in the metadata with a variety of links to matters of interest, maps, google maps, wikipedia, twitstreams, flickr, and a number which could be called voip for connecting to the agent for the next tour of the battleground.

Then it is just a matter of a programmable internet connected device being setup to display your preferences and display options and away you go. This could be the TV itself or a media centre controlling the TV (and the digital radio).

I think this point is what is missing in the whole debate about digital broadcast whether satellite, terrestrial or mobile and whether TV or radio its all the same proposition – if the platform is chosen correctly within the context of the ecosystem.

For example all that “digital TV” means in Australia is that the existing spectrum/broadcast license holders lobbied successfully to be given a 5 year monopoly if they sent out digital TV signals. The Government agreed that there can be no new players in the TV industry for 5 years in return for the TV station owners investing in new technology.

Why they should get a monopoly for keeping up investments in technology is beyond me but it fundamentally speaks to the crippled mindset of the advisors to the Government who tend to be economists even in such matters as this. The owners had to promise to launch new free-to-air digital channels in return, by end 2009. So they are now rushing to air with rehashed NBA and NASCAR which for god’s sake is not even known in this country – our basketball league went bankrupt last year because of lack of interest.

But wait, it gets worse! So now we are getting 3rd rate US broadcast quality shoved down our digital channels and sold to us as HD. It beggars belief.

In summary we are stuck in the digital broadcast backwaters for 5 years because the TV owners and the government saw digital TV as simply a replacement for a analogue transmission system and not a platform.

There you go, first time I’ve put all that out there, now to go and cool down !!! ha

Image: http://www.global-b2b-network.com/direct/dbimage/50234898/TV_Remote_Control.jpg


  1. Martin says:

    Hi Ajit,
    Yes, a Wikipedia button on the remote, yes, that’s what I need! I use Wikipedia on the mobile all the time to get background info and diverge from a linear program on TV or a conversation. A great way of learning!
    Also agree that digitizing TV and radio had the great chance to add value to the user with interactivity, etc, a chance that was not taken up. I wonder if Mobile-TV does any better these days. I still don’t see a lot of positive proof.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Helo Martin
    Thanks for this. Great to hear from you. hope you are well. kind rgds Ajit

  3. Moray Barclay says:

    Hi Ajit,
    I very much like your comment: “I don’t like linear things”.
    Today I received a hard copy (more of that later) of the forthcoming “mobile operator smart pipes & applications”.
    Potentially a great four days.
    But talk about linear!
    By this, I mean we’re going to get:
    (1) the chair introducing speakers and saying “let’s take questions at the end of their presentation”.
    (2) many presentations which are not “pyramidal” in nature and speakers saying, “we’d better go quickly because there’s a lot to get through (subtext: before I get to the interesting point because if I tell you that now I’ll be done)”
    (3) an agenda so fixed in nature that it can be printed on glossy paper* seven weeks before
    Even the preparation is linear. There is no twitter feed from the organisers to follow; no wiki site to which to contribute; no blog site (which is why I am using yours); and so on.
    What might a non-linear conference look like:
    (a) anyone can post a presentation in advance and delegates get to vote on what they want to hear;
    (b) presentations are presented in the order of voting popularity; if you’re #20 on the list you might miss out, because……
    (c) there are no time constraints – at one extreme the entire conference might consist of just the first presentation, because…..
    (d) interruptions are not just allowed, they are encouraged, and because the presentations are structured properly, this does not affect the content, just the flow, because…..
    (e) all presentations are pyramidal in nature and every page has multiple incoming and outgoing hyperlinks which follow a path based on the mood of the audience.
    I might end up going to the conference, but only if I can get a free ticket from my colleague who’s speaking.
    I’ll be the guy being told to “please keep the question until the end of the presentation”.
    Best regards,
    Moray Barclay
    * leaving aside the environmental issues…

  4. Ajit Jaokar says:

    Many thanks Moray. Very insightful. I shall pass on your comments to the organisors. If you are there – lets meet kind rgds Ajit