Google-izing the television

On: September 11, 2010
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About Bob Nefkens
Bob is a MA student in the field of New Media at the University of Amsterdam. During his first year of studying 'Communication and Information Studies' at the University of Utrecht he stumbled upon the subject of New Media, what would change his career as a student. Particularly because he was dealing with a lot of new media in his own life (like most of his generation), he was wondering what kind of impact they have on him and the people around him, and what the future will bring. Luckily for him the University of Utrecht offered a trajectory called New Media and Digital Culture in which he enrolled, and next to that he started the Minor Cognitive Psychology. After finishing his Bachelor in Utrecht he decided to go to the city of Amsterdam. The University of Amsterdam offered the Master program ‘New Media’, which he started in September 2010. His main interest lies in the notion of ‘Googlization’, and currently he’s writing his thesis about the personalization of search results by Google, and how it affects society.


For a couple of years now scientists and new media enthusiasts have been talking about the merging of television and personal computers. Nowadays there are a couple of examples through which this merging takes place and last week almighty Google announced it will also launch its Web-based television this fall. Google TV will let you combine the internet with your television. I could explain here exactly how it works but like always Google made a nice animated introduction.

As a student of new media sciences I’ve been completely bombarded with the concept of remediation, introduced by Bolter and Grusin in 1999. According to them older media like the television ‘refashion themselves to answer to the challenges of new media’. The basic concept is that a medium incorporates or represents another medium. Google TV in this sense lets the medium internet be included in the television, and viola a ‘new’  medium is born.

Well this all sounds like a very cool new medium and the complete merging of television and computers seems to have taken a step forward, but it doesn’t make very excited. In the introduction video of Google TV the medium television is defined as the screen in the living room, but for me the screen is a screen and television is the information provided by the cable company. I have a screen in my living room to which both the television cable as my computer is connected. They give television features that I think do not belong to that medium. It is a feature that belongs to my screen that allows me to write this post on my ‘TV’ screen. So I’m not looking forward to buying a set-top box to ‘easily’ be connected to the Internet and watch videos on it with my friends.

I understand that the idea of Google with the merger of these two media is to create new opportunities that were not possible before, and I must admit that the search system looks very useful, but I don’t need the two media to merge with each other, at least not as long as they don’t merge all the features of my computer with television, I can simply do much more on my computer than with Google TV. Google wants to give people the opportunity to be in control when they watch television, but sometimes nothing beats to be handed over to the television programming of the networks like a true couch potato.

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