Monday, June 1, 2009

Arguing over semantics as technology changes

Old TV and 15 inch monitor by Alpha (avlxyz) used under a Creative Commons License

When I bought my new home computer recently, I discovered that the monitor has HDTV connections. I'm not using them at the moment, but I could.

One night last week, I insisted on using our main TV in the family room so that I could watch a DVR'ed copy of the Champions League match between Barcelona and Manchester United. Because I was using that TV, my daughter went to the living room and watched TV. Or, to be more accurate, she watched a TV show. She was NOT watching TV; let's be very clear on that.

Now many of you realize that I'm making a ridiculous distinction. But that is the very distinction that is being made by Hulu, as Peter Kafka notes:

Note how [Hulu] describes [its Desktop application]: “A lean-back viewing experience for your personal computer” that will work on Macs and PCs with “standard Windows Media Center or Apple remote controls”....

Kafka notes that at the time he was writing this post, he was in a room with

gorgeous 22″ and 30″ Mac displays that are much nicer than anything that sits in my cramped Brooklyn apartment. Hulu is saying that they’d be a-ok with me watchin Tina Fey and crew, via their service, on those monitors. But they don’t want me trying to get that show on an actual television.

To understand these arcane semantic distinctions, all you have to do is follow the money. More here.
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