NoTube blog – the future of television is social and semantic

How willing are you to share data about what you watch on TV?

Posted in Beancounter by vickybuser on December 7, 2009

I’m working on NoTube as part of the BBC team, and together with Lora from VU, I’m looking into various potential privacy issues. In particular, as someone with a background in user experience, I’m interested to find out how willing people are to share information online about what they *actually* watch on TV – i.e. the type of attention data that can be counted with a Beancounter.

For example: you’ve spent years carefully cultivating and managing an online persona which reflects you in the best light – and you choose to post and tweet only about TV programmes which reinforce this persona. Given all this effort, do you really want your online contacts/friends to know that you’re also a secret fan of several ‘trashy’ TV shows – or this information that you’d rather keep to yourself?

On the other hand, how curious would you be to find out what your friends are watching (with their permission of course)? How about if you could get programme recommendations based on their tastes and preferences, combined with yours? For example, if you discovered that ten of your friends watched a programme about a subject you’re interested in that you hadn’t, might that influence you to watch it too? Yes? But how might your friends feel about sharing their TV viewing data with you?

Is what you choose to watch on TV in the privacy of your own sitting room at the end of a long day more intimately personal somehow than, say, the music you listen to, the DVDs you rent or the books you buy? And, if so, might this be because we tend to revert to ‘couch potato’ mode when we’re feeling tired and bored and need passive entertainment – when we want to indulge in the guilty pleasures of less highbrow content than we might pursue in other (more public) contexts?

The ability to share information online about programmes you’ve watched is already being made possible by experimental services such as 4iP’s Test Tube Telly and Whomwah’s twitter bot which sends details about what you are listening to and watching to the @radioandtvbot account on Twitter. Similarly Boxee allows you to match up your feed output to a twitter stream.

Do people have reservations about sharing this kind of data? If so, would the trade-off of potentially interesting programme recommendations based on friends’ viewing behaviours be worth any perceived risk of exposure? These are some questions I hope to answer during the course of this project.

I’d be interested to hear your thoughts. Please leave any comments on the blog.

4 Responses

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  1. Richard Kay said, on December 10, 2009 at 17:34

    I know that marketeers at digital tv providers have access to what you watch, and how many other people do as well… Actually I don’t mind that, as long as my name isn’t mentioned.

    As from a marketeer perspective, if they know what the mass or you like, they could look into extra appealing shows (for me and the others) and add extra similair interest stuff just like on the major internet communities, in the sidebar with tags… recommendations, would ignite new interests.

    Cheers! ps. I’m following this!

  2. Dale Lane said, on February 4, 2010 at 01:33

    Someone showed me this site today while we were talking about an idea that I started playing with last Christmas – doing a for my television watching

    Great to see that there are other people looking into this sort of stuff!

  3. libbymiller said, on February 4, 2010 at 09:33

    hi Dale, I think I saw your TV stats page somewhere – very nice indeed.

  4. chad said, on May 6, 2010 at 11:07

    not peepo!

    no telly, so how will my choices be included?

    and if you haven’t posted to bbc backstage, get on it….

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