Broadcast is a one-to-many structure. This is its strength and
weakness. Its limited messages are more powerfully felt because
they are fewer but also because they are common to more people. You
might not believe what you see on Television, but it sets the
common framework for discussion, it is able to decide the topic.
Broadcast is also a didactic structure. It teaches by speaking, and
by you listening. It explains the best way for you to do things,
the best way to read Dracula, the best way to bake a cake, the best
way to run a country. But broadcast is bad at explaining is how to
find out how to make the best cake. The cake is as good as it's
going to get, for this week at least. The country is already being
run as best it can under these difficult global economic
conditions. Broadcast is a medium of conclusions because the
audience expect it to be an authority, and it's too expensive to
The internet can be a broadcast technology, it can be used in a one-to many, or more often a one-to-some structure. It's true that the internet allows for information to flow both ways but feedback has never been excluded from broadcast, with its phone-ins, letters' pages, shout-outs and request lines. Information still tends to flow back to the broadcast's origin to then be retransmitted. The internet is a technology that, by lowering the cost of one-to-some transmission, allows for a proliferation of conclusions and, perhaps more importantly, a proliferation of inconclusions. The internet is populated by attempts, to write, to sing, to explain the financial crisis. Authority is not a condition of entry and so you can learn not just from others peoples answers, but from their learning. Being able to watching other people learn, and to see how they learn is far more powerful than knowing the answer straight away. It might not show learning as easy, but it shows it as possible, and that broadcasting that learning is possible too. The learning and the broadcast proliferated exponentially. The right answer becomes less obvious and the topic of conversation becomes unfixed.
John Hill will be in discussion with artist Chip Lord as part of Random Acts: Artist Interventions into Broadcast on 26 October, a day-long event exploring the future of television as a shared space.
Tickets are just £10 / £8 (FACT Members & concs) tickets are available online, in person at Box Office, or by calling 0871 902 5737.