The Technological Imagination of Public Media
AbstractAlthough it has been nearly four decades since Raymond Williamsâ€™ 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 Williamsâ€™ critique of technological determinism in Marshall McLuhanâ€™s theory of media. But the book should also be remembered for a number of other significant contributions, including the prescient chapter titled â€œAlternative technology, alternative uses?â€ 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 â€˜sorted out as we goâ€™ (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.
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