Interactive TV
The Web and the Internet are the latest technologies to be harnessed by
companies trying to develop interactive television. This paper reviews the
efforts of technology companies and broadcasters to combine television and the

Web in their products and activities, and how users are already using them both
at home. It reviews some research on the way that TV and the PC/Internet are
used at home, and suggests some way that the Web could be integrated with
television use. Unlike earlier interactive television projects, where the
innovation was largely conducted behind closed doors and among consortia of
companies, the innovation environment in which Web-based interactive television
is being developed includes a huge number of existing users, technology and
content suppliers who play an active role the innovation process. The concept of
social learning is suggested as a area of development of tools for understand
the process of technical, social and cultural change around innovation of this
sort. In particular the idea of poles of attraction is introduced to understand
why a huge numbers of supply side players and users are orienting towards the

Internet as a possible solution to interactive television. 1. Introduction Of
all the visions of the future of television (note 1), interactive television (i-TV)
is perhaps the most radical and powerful. In this vision the ubiquitous
television set will change from being a device to watch television shows or
films into a home terminal for access to and interaction with networked
interactive technology, programmes and services. The possibilities and benefits
of the technology seem self-evident, if only they can be made to work
effectively and at a modest price. Many times we have been told to expect
interactive television any day now. (note 2) However, after millions of dollars
spent, and many pilots and service closures, most of us are still no closer to
having interactive television than a few hundred searchable teletext pages, and
some phone-in TV shows. In the efforts to create i-TV, numerous applications and
technologies have been tried, with companies attracted by the possibilities of
each new generation of technology, and responding to the continuous pressure to
develop new products, be they technologies, services or programmes in order to
maintain their share of consumer spending. The explosion of the Internet and Web
is a new pole of attraction for interactive television developers that seems to
solve many of the problems and uncertainties of earlier systems: all of a sudden
the technologies, content, users and uses of interactive services are there and
proving very successful, all that needs to be done it integrate them into
television. For the analyst of new innovations in television, three issues arise
as companies are attracted to the Internet and the Web as a solution to
interactive television. 1. Instead of being controlled by a small number of
corporate players, the technology and service of the Web and Internet are in the
public domain, and changing fast. The innovation environment is diverse,
heterogeneous, and involves a multitude of companies and most importantly users
in shaping the technology and services, which makes management of innovation
more complex and give the market a much stronger voice. 2. There is major
uncertainty over the relevance of Web-style interactivity to the use of
television. Many commentators believe that content and services on the Internet
or designed for the PC terminal may not be relevant for many users of the
television, while others bet on the explosion of e-commerce through TV Web
terminals. 3. The television is no longer the only window for interactive
services to the home. The PC is an increasingly common alternative, and is a
more flexible and open platform or interactive services. The cheap web set-top
box may restrict innovation and fix service and uses in a way that is
frustrating to end users and service providers alike. What is more, there is an
emerging paradigm in the technology industry of multiple \'low profile\' terminals
for interactive services. This could turn investment and attention away from
both the PC and the television. What links these issues is the importance of the
end users as active players in the innovation-diffusion process. It was end- and
intermediate-users adopting the Internet and Web that attracted interactive
television developers, and it is these users who are now directly involved in
the innovation process. This paper uses social learning (SÝrensen 1996) as an
analytic framework of socio-technical change that includes an integration of end
users in the innovation and diffusion process. Social learning goes beyond the
development and diffusion of technology and content to include the creation of
new knowledge, regulations, expectations, institutions and cultural norms. In
particular it