The Technological Imagination of Public Media


public media

How to Cite

Lesage, F. (2014). The Technological Imagination of Public Media. Stream: Interdisciplinary Journal of Communication, 6(1), 12–14.


Although it has been nearly four decades since Raymond Williams’ book Television: technology and cultural form (Williams, 2003/1975) was first published, I find it helpful to return to this seminal work with a view of reflecting on the future of public media in Canada. Television is often remembered for Williams’ critique of technological determinism in Marshall McLuhan’s theory of media. But the book should also be remembered for a number of other significant contributions, including the prescient chapter titled “Alternative technology, alternative uses?†in which Williams examined some of the innovations in broadcasting technologies being developed at the time. For Williams, these innovations represented at once a risk and an opportunity. The risk was that people in the United States and the United Kingdom who were in a position to shape the implementation of these innovations would remain complacent, allowing their deployment to be ‘sorted out as we go’ (Williams, 2003/1975, p. 140). The opportunity was that changes to broadcasting infrastructure could afford people the chance to address structural inequities and imagine alternative uses. Williams believed that the early stages in implementing new technological innovations represented an opportune moment for putting in place alternative organizational and policy arrangements for television broadcasting.