Definition of Television

Shelly Palmer posed an interesting question to his NYC Emmy New Media list.  Define Television. 

Television: A tube that shows stuff. 

Damn, he probably wants something deeper than that.  On Shelly’s blog he gets all deep on this new media stuff so my bet is he really wants an answer to the question of "what is television?"  I found that I could not define television in just one way because what it is is NOT what it soon will be.  I had to first say what it is, and then what it will be.  Standing on the mountain preaching down to the viewers, telling them when to arrive and what they will see and that they will like it; those days are gone.  Even interactive television is still one main editor and content provider, or at least an elite group, talking to the masses.  It is not a conversation, and that is the fundamental problem.  So this is my response to the question:

What is television?

Right now we understand Television to be: An advertising supported mass entertainment medium that sends video, pictures and audio to a remote viewing box.   It is a one way medium providing edited content utilizing limited resources for transmission (radio waves or cable) which makes scarcity a problem.  The competition economics of the medium lead it to sensational but highly professional content to attract advertisers.  Advertisers and content owners attempt to maintain ownership and control of their content.
 
What Television will be:
 
A user driven method of displaying videos, recorded from the past, happening real time, or scheduled to be recorded in the future and displayed on demand for an end user based on their time table.   Television becomes one of many possible portals to view video.  Video remains primarily an entertainment medium but with unlimited resources for transmission (the Internet in addition to radio waves or cable) the democracy of content creation reduces the demand for high dollar advertisers.   Television production as we know it becomes more pay per click and branding focused.   TV and video become part of the conversation that is the blogosphere.   It evolves into a conversation and the one way communication “down” from broadcast stations to the public falls away into antiquity.