Shifted Media

My Helsinki flight – despite the turbulence – allowed me to catch up on some blog reading which I printed off before I left for the airport.

Tom, of plasticbag fame, had a brain dump at the weekend – writing unconnected thoughts to the page. One that caught my eye – because of it’s relationship to some of my thoughts – was regarding time shifted media.

As a topic, it’s nothing new (we discussed it ten years ago when I was at University looking at some of the social aspects of media consumption) but technology has moved us a great deal.

Ten years ago, time shifting was really not much more than the ability to video (or cassette record) programmes and watch/listen to them later. The Open University has, of course, been a prime user of this concept with dead-of-night programming being one of the backbones of the service.

Now, of course, all is changed. The BBC Radio Player allows you to catch up on programming regardless of location or time zone and you can see how it can have a huge impact on the lives of ex-pats who want to keep in touch via their favourite radio shows.

I have also written before of SkyPlus, a personal video recorder in the Tivo mould linked to the BskyB satellite service. Their current advertising campaign suggests the ability to create your own television channel packed full of only the programmes you want to watch. And it is true. Regardless of the number of times Channel Four or Living TV show Will and Grace, I’d rather watch it when I want to – which is why my machine has them in abundance.

There are downsides too. Phil Gyford has spoken of the excellent Channel Four comedy-drama, Teachers. I have been hooked since the first series but, for some reason, have not at home for much of the latest series. So my machine is over-loaded with hours of episodes. Now, rather than adding to the ability to manage my own time, each view of my SkyPlus planner reminds me how time poor I am and how I do not get the opportunity to absorb all the material I do want to watch.

Indeed, time-shifting has been an advantage to me – I watch much less dross now. But it also encourages me to record the worthy and adds to my feelings of frustration in a world that provides too much stimulation. I can’t decide what is worse.

On this day…