Broadening the Effects of Broadcasting: How ITV can Collapse Distance and Transform Communication

Broadening the Effects of Broadcasting: How ITV can Collapse Distance and Transform Communication

Stefan Agamanolis (Distance Lab, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-656-3.ch002
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Conventional broadcasting has the impressive power to create shared experiences over huge audiences or even entire populations. The sharing of such experiences deepens our sense of connectedness with others, which in turn arguably leads to positive effects in society as a whole. Interactive television and related technologies have the potential to further collapse distance and broaden these positive effects of broadcasting—enabling new modes of communication, providing an enhanced sense of community, offering opportunities to meet new people, and allowing us to build relationships in new ways. This chapter surveys a number of research projects undertaken in the Human Connectedness group at Media Lab Europe and at Distance Lab that address these themes, as a way to suggest new trends at the intersection of television, networking, and computing.
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The Impact Of Technology On Human Relationships

Human psychology is an enormously complex topic and our understanding of it is always changing, but a wide body of evidence and experimentation validates the basic claim that humans have a fundamental need for contact with other humans. Authors like Lewis, Amini & Landon (2000) detail the vital regulating effects that social contact and healthy relationships have on human mental and physical well-being. They also reveal the consequences that arise from a lack of these requirements, particularly during infancy and childhood.

The degree to which an individual is “self sufficient” or “independent”, able to live on their own and not needing anything from anyone else, is often used as a measure of success in our modern society. However, humans, and indeed all mammals, are not in fact “self-regulating” creatures. Recent theories assert that human physiology is largely regulated and stabilized by others who are nearby. This stabilization happens via many different channels including facial expression, physical touch, hormonal signals, and so on.

The term “limbic regulation” refers to this system of mutual exchange and adaptation between mammals. Disruptions in this regulation can have serious consequences, particularly in the early stages of life. Infants who have not received sufficient physical and emotional contact with another human (such as a mother or another person) develop serious mental deficiencies and health problems that can be life-threatening depending on the severity of the isolation. However, this regulation is also critical throughout life:

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