This blog began as a project for a digital media class on liveblogging and television viewership. I have decided to keep it going as a place to share my thoughts on television (as well as flim, music, etc.), both popularly and academically. All blog posts are by me, Maura McAndrew, lover of television and sitcom preservationist. I’m mainly interested in the ways in which audiences interact with these media and the relationship between media and nostalgia. I have a bachelor’s in English from Macalester College and a Master’s in film studies/composition from The University of Pittsburgh, where I wrote my thesis on Roseanne as a postmodern family sitcom. I currently live in Pittsburgh and work as Writing Lab Coordinator in Academic Support for Student-Athletes at the University of Pittsburgh.
Below is the original description of the blog, which applies to the entries from spring 2009:
This blog is an experimental project I’m working on for my Digital Media Theory class at the University of Pittsburgh. Over the next ten weeks, I will be posting weekly on the subject of liveblogging and television viewership. This is not intended to result in a fully formed academic essay, however I hope that through reporting on my research as it progresses, I can come to some conclusions about the nature of the liveblog, its effect on viewership, and what it can tell us about both audience response and audience behavior in the age of digital media.
I should begin by providing a definition of the practice under discussion: Liveblogging is an ever-growing way for fans to respond to television shows and media events as they watch them. They simply register on a website or use twitter to enter short messages in response to what they’re watching, while also receiving the posts of others watching. This results in a real-time feed of a fan community’s responses. A single person can also produce a liveblog, a new form a criticism popularized by the website Television without Pity. Most of the time, one critic or blogger will keep the “official” liveblog, while fans contribute in a stream below. Liveblogs are currently being produced on personal and popular blogs all over the web, and have even been added as features to television network websites.
In Understanding Media, Marshall McLuhan writes,
“Physiologically, man in the normal use of technology (or his variously extended body) is perpetually modified by it and in turn finds ever new ways of modifying his technology. Man becomes, as it were, the sex organs of the machine world, as the bee of the plant world, enabling it to fecundate and to evolve ever new forms” (46).
When we liveblog, one can argue that we are both modifying and being modified by technology. We are producing a text in response to another text, and in doing this we are altering our interaction with two different media. Our response to television is changed by what we read and write, and also by the very fact that we are participating in this other activity while watching.
I am interested in liveblogging as it operates in two different areas of study. First of all, I will consider it in terms of what Henry Jenkins terms “convergence culture.” What is the overflow of television response onto the internet doing to the medium of television itself? How is viewership being altered by this need to respond in real time? How are the two media coming together, and what does this say about the way people are reponding to and interacting with technology in a society rapidly going digital?
Secondly, I am interested in liveblogging’s place in the field of audience response research. What can we learn about television and web audiences from liveblogs? How does a real time response to what we’re seeing change the way we respond? How might this change the way television texts are created and constructed?
These are things that I hope I can at least explore throughout my time with this blog. Each week, I’ll focus on a topic related to theoretical text, a particular liveblog, or my own experiments with liveblogging itself. I hope that through this process I can come away with a better understanding of the way television and the internet are coming together and changing viewership in the 21st century.
McLuhan, Marshall. Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1994.