TLW: The Trouble With Television is that Someone Else Sets the Speed

One requirement of our revolutionary new technology is that it should overcome restrictions that prevent other technologies from increasing audience comprehension.

Take, for example, television. A wonderful medium when it comes to visuals, the television suffers from the problem of speed. That is, how fast or how slow should content run for viewers to fully understand what is being said?

One example would be television shows where the anchors and guests are speaking (or shouting) — sometimes simultaneously — too fast for anyone to follow what they are saying.

In India, there is the hilarious line that comes at the end of every mutual fund advertisement. It is actually a disclaimer, and mandated by law at that. In full speed, a voiceover tells viewers, “Mutual fund investments are subject to market risk. Please read the offer document carefully before investing.”

The joke is born out of the fact that the line is read too fast for anyone to understand what is being said, and it took multiple hearings for people to understand the sentence being uttered, much less its intention.

Many years ago, when television was first making its appearance, and newspapers seemed under attack, a noted American journalist / editor objected to the claimed supremacy of the medium, pointing out, “The human mind cannot — and need not — process information at the speed of light.” (The quote is paraphrased from memory, as the original quote could not be found and its author couldn’t be identified.)

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