>>||+436602136050||+//dagmar[at]sil[dot]at|||DAGMAR STREICHER

It is interesting and characteristic of our times that public discussion of the on-going change in new media which affects our social life and has a tremendous socio-political impact predominantly takes place in commercial terms. This project aims at bringing the artistic-visionary approaches and those of the social sciences into this discussion. The project is inter-medial and includes Web, TV , cinema release and an exhibition.

When the first new medium, the radio, made its appearance, it generated an enthusiasm for democratic mass interaction that, from the optimistic point of view at the time, would become feasible in the near future. It was not social need that led to this technology, but when it was invented, it generated the vision that media could engender positive social change. Berthold Brecht also advocated this point of view in his 'radio theories'.

With each new mass medium that followed, such as television and later on the Fido Net, Arpa Net, Internet or the World Wide Web, the idea of interactive, democratic mass communication gained impetus. At first, predominantly in art experiments and science, then in commerce and industry. With their increasing commercialisation, the media became both suitable for the masses and economically interesting, which in turn led to their de-ideologisation. (This could very well be the destiny of the World Wide Web as well.)

The dream of communication on an equal footing between media makers and audience was only fulfilled by means of the World Wide Web, not only for technological but also for political and commercial reasons. This is the reason why - as the proposition of the thesis, which underlies this project states - a new medium will replace its predecessor for the first time. It does not imply a reduction of the audio-visual content, which is dramatically increasing but that the role of traditional national broadcasters will diminish to insignificance. In the mid-term, this will particularly affect the public broadcasters who, due to their official mandate, are not able to offer tailor-made services to a specific target group. At the same time, 'traditional producers and creators of media content' try to stop this development with national licencing, which as far as the Internet is concerned, is absurd and hardly viable. The attempt to transfer out-dated national systems to the global web seems akin to fighting against windmills since it demands a ridiculous amount of energy as well as tremendous bureaucratic and financial expenditure, and even though lobbyists and anti-piracy groups currently have some partial success, this strategy has no chance of prevailing in the long term.

A simple glance at the history of the media indicates since the beginning, that any medium that technically enables true democratic, emancipatory communication will monopolise all previous ones. The Internet is currently doing just that, especially so since it can cover all aspects, i.e. print, audio and audio-visual. The focus of this project lies on the replacement of television. However, it needs to be underlined again that it is not the audio-visual content that is being questioned, but the broadcasting mass medium, television, as we know now and have known it ever since it entered our living rooms. The traditional TV set (home TV) has dominated life in the living room for over half a century. This is over now.

How the 'television of the future' will appear has not yet been decided. Anticipating the technical possibilities and their design in connection with new communication habits and needs of future viewers who are increasingly seeing themselves as content providers (producers) and are no longer a passive, consuming 'audience', is both fascinating, challenging and for the industry inevitable, but it is, in a sense also fortune-telling. However, one thing is certain, that is the changing role of National TV Broadcasters. The question to be asked is how well these TV stations are prepared for the change. Will they be able to secure a significant position for themselves in the connected and constantly renewing media world of the future? Looking at it optimistically, it might be possible as pre-selectors of content, but it would require great flexibility and this is not exactly the strength of large Broadcasting Corporations. Content will almost exclusively be available on demand. On the other hand, the concept of public viewing will spread and not remain limited to large sport events as it is now.

Selection will definitely be a topic, as it will be considered crucial to counteract potential overloading resulting from an enormous flood of information in sound and pictures. However, who will select? And how much interaction can people bear? In this area, national TV stations could remain a noteworthy, socio-political factor, at least in the mid-term.

They could mutate from being an important content provider to a selector or host.

It will particularly be interesting to follow this development in the news sector. Currently, anchored news programs are the core elements creating identification of the channels. Here, the role as selector can already be seen today, because in our age of real time communication even live newscasts are lagging behind. With a younger, polyglot audience, transnational broadcasters such as CNN, Al Jazeera or RT are gaining in importance. They are being expanded and are increasingly migrating to the web. This development has been recognised and has led to a struggle for media domination that is being played out at a high political level. English seems to have secured its position as the global language in the News Sector, not only for media makers but also for the audience.