Everything Bad About the Web Was Once Said About Television

This 1945 pamphlet on the "Future of Television" is awesome. But who would have thought we'd be having the same tired discussion 65 years later? The table of contents is a template for every contemporary new media debate:

  • The new medium could rot people's brains and erode cultural standards: "What you'll be seeing: [Ventriloquist dummy] Charlie McCarthy or the [intellectual radio broadcast] Chicago Roundtable?"
  • The government is making huge new media decisions with far-reaching implications for the future: "Battle in the spectrum... Uncle Sam Looks at Television."
  • The new medium will impact this old medium: Title: "Movies and Television" Article: "Film companies are watching television development with a careful eye."
  • The elite first adopters will be overrun by the masses: Title: "Is Television Ready for the Public?" Article "Before the war about 7,000 television sets had been sold... the purcahses were all in or near a handful of cities. among them New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Schenectady, and Los Angeles" Those big-city bastards of Schenectady were liberal elitists even back in the day!
  • The new medium will usher in a new crop of media lords: "Who Are the Leaders in the Fight?"
  • The new medium means fun new gadgets (which could get us loads of advertising): Title: "What Kind of Television? War improvements cut costs / Look before you buy / Network possibilities / Buy wisely / Color television"



    Article (emphasis added): "Before you start looking for a receiver, check up on the television station in your area and find out whether its programs interest you...Don't let the salesman double talk you into buying one before it is demonstrated in your home. Who knows, you may be living in a "dead spot" where it is not possible to pick up television pictures. [AT&T has apparently been in the wireless business a long time.]

Somehow we still have movie theaters, radio, books and newspapers decades later. And every one of those sectors is still fabulously profitable and growing. (*Cough*)

[via Brendan Koerner]