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Books versus broadcasts September 14, 2006

Posted by Sarah in media, quotations.

Each book we choose to “associate” with takes up part of our physical environment. It must be physically carried into the home and stored somewhere, whether on a coffee table or under a mattress. A book is a belonging. Although records, tapes, and disks are also belongings, broadcast television and radio content is evanescent; it is consumed and leaves no tangible evidence. Watching a program on television, therefore, is like stopping to watch an event in a public park. One does not have to take it into one’s home, place it among one’s possessions, and make it part of one’s self.–Joshua Meyrowitz, No Sense of Place, p. 83.

This quote raises some questions for me. Yes, a broadcast is not an object in the way that a book is. But what about the DVDs of Seasons 1 – 4 of The West Wing that are sitting on the shelf of the entertainment center? Those are objects that I have invited into my home. What about the practice of recording television shows, either to watch at a later date or to keep? What about Tivo? A recording of that sort is not an object in the way that a book is, but it isn’t properly a broadcast either; it isn’t something that “is consumed and leaves no tangible evidence.”

Or are bits on a hard drive considered intangible?



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