Television was once championed as the “electronic hearth” which would bring people together. Indeed, television shows provide a common experience, often affording even total strangers a social connection on which to initiate conversation. This effect blossomed in the 1950s when two-thirds of all Americans tuned in to watch “I Love Lucy” with their families. However, a fundamental shift in how we consume media is degrading such social interactions significantly – an increasing number of people are no longer watching television shows as they broadcast. Instead, users are favoring non-live media sources, such as Digital Video Recorders (DVRs), Video-On-Demand services (e.g. Apple’s iTunes Video Store), and even rented physical media (e.g. DVDs via Netflix). To complicate matters further, televisions are outnumbering people in the average home; less than a fifth of households have a single television. This is leading to a decline in ability for people to interact and is eroding once strong social ties. People are increasingly watching TV without their families, with some studies suggesting at least half of Americans usually watch alone. However, all indications point towards a lack of ability to communicate, not a lack of desire. Our system, CollaboraTV, aims to reinvigorate communication by providing a suite of communication primitives that work in an asynchronous viewing context.
Nathan, M., Harrison, C., Yarosh, S., Terveen, L., Stead, L., Amento, B. CollaboraTV: Making Television Viewing Social Again. In Proceedings of the 1st International Conference on Designing Interactive User Experiences for TV and Video. UXTV ’08. ACM, New York, NY, 85-94.