November 21, 2009

World Television Day In 1996, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed November 21 to be World Television Day to “encourage global exchanges of television programmes focusing on peace, security, economic and social development and the enhancement of cultural exchange.”
Source: UNESCO

Use this opportunity to discuss or even debate the issues surrounding TV.
  • Does it offer relaxing entertainment, or make us into couch potatoes?
  • Is it educational, or brain-deadening?
  • Is it a powerful way to communicate news globally, or easily manipulated into a propaganda machine?
  • Is it a way to build understanding and empathy for far-flung cultures, or a source of temptation and a showcase of immorality?
If you answered “Yes” to all of the above, of course you're right, because television is a tool that can be used and abused every which way. Different families will take different nuanced views about the role of TV in their lives, and will choose to have one, two, many, or no TV sets in their homes; in many areas, people also choose between cable or satellite TV, are able to watch TV shows for free on on their computers, and can use TiVo or other digital video recorders. Other, competing technologies such as YouTube and the internet in general, NetFlix and other DVD-delivery systems with huge catalogs of entertainment and educational discs, broadcast and satellite radio, and all the print media keep the world more or less informed and entertained.

Did you know...?

  • Amateur or ham TV were on the air in many cities before commercial stations were.
  • TV partly works because our brains are able to “see” a group of dots as a picture. There is a nice illustrated explanation of this here.
Some artists count on our ability to mentally assemble dots into meaningful images, because they make pictures out of dots. One artist who does this is Chuck Close. Check out his work here. (Be sure to watch the website at least a few moments—the artwork sample will show closer and closer up, or further and further away. Then the display changes to a new art piece for the same close-up/far-away treatment.)
  • TV also works because our brains are able to combine lots of still pictures into motion pictures—the same brain feature that allows us to enjoy and make sense of animation and movies. You can make and share animations here.

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