A New Approach to Television


Television is a word that we might stop using soon.

What does it mean anymore? The problem is that it used to be two things: the appliance you watched content on, and the content itself. Sounds familiar.


I don’t watch much TV, and I tend to judge those who have nothing to talk about except what happened recently on the 23 shows they’re watching. But the old concept of “TV is bad for you” doesn’t seem to apply anymore. Or at least not in the same way.

The reason this is changing is because TV used to be mostly entertainment, and it used to be fairly low quality. It was meant to be mind-numbing, and it was.

But now, as I mentioned above, the television is simply a viewscreen. It doesn’t send you crap shows from ABC/CBS/NBC—it shows you what you subscribe to.

So instead of watching rich housewives get upset about various topics you could instead watch shows like these:

The key here is that I’m already reading stuff like this. Books. Online text. Whatever. TV is just another input now, and the content could be just as good or better.

I put Game of Thrones in there because I do think that good fiction, in moderation, is not just ok but a balancing force against the constant pressure of creating and improving. It improves output, in other words, and there’s also nothing wrong with fun.

These other shows, however, are not TV in the traditional sense. It’s not Three’s Company or Funniest Home Videos. It’s not time wasted that you could have done something else with. It’s enriching. It teaches. It pushes you.

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Vice, for example, is simply the best documentary series I’ve ever seen. It’s absolutely fantastic. The Tim Ferris show that’s coming on is all about mastering interesting skills with only four days of training. Mr. Robot is entertaining but also pertinent to my field. And Cosmos is, well, Cosmos.

The point here is simple: Television needs to be understood in a different way by those who are against it. It’s no longer ONLY a place to go to waste time. It’s all about what content you subscribe to.

Just like anything else in our new world of infinite choice.

So I’m about to start looking at TV more like I do my RSS reader. It’s a way to harvest high quality content that will help me be more creative and more productive (with a tinge of entertainment thrown in as well).

I have AT&T U-Verse, and I’m basically starting from zero (I’ve never really used a DVR because I don’t watch TV), so if you have any shows that enrich you, make you better, or inspire you to create, hit me up.

I’ll add them to a regular viewing schedule (I’m guessing on Sundays).

Tell me your favorites.

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