Here Comes the 24/7 World: What Can We Learn from Television

Dr. Gary Edgerton became the fourth member of a growing list of faculty chosen to deliver the Senior Scholar Lecture.  Dr. Chandra de Silva instituted the Senior Scholar Lecture Series when he became Dean of the College of Arts and Letters in the fall of 2003.   Former lecturers include Dr. Lawrence Hatab, Professor and Chair of Philosophy; Dr. Janet Bing, Professor of English; and Ken Daley, Professor of Art and last year's presenter.  ?Edgerton decided to focus on television.  He presented five general observations from the history of TV and discussed their relevance in relation to the recent emergence and development of the Internet.   His lecture entitled "Here Comes the 24/7 World: What Can We Learn from Television," discussed the digital era in conjunction with the Internet, and how they are influencing the world today.


In the event that you were unable to attend the Senior Scholar Lecture, Dr. Edgerton has provided the following summary:


Even with the astronomical rise of the Internet over the last decade, television is still the centerpiece of culture for most Americans.   The average U.S. household keeps the TV set turned on 8 hours and 11 minutes a day in 2005.   In addition, computer use (the combination of web browsing, e-mail, and software interactions) is up to 3 hours and 6 minutes a day.   Media consumption in general is currently the number one daily activity in the United States (more so than work, school, or even sleep).   The superabundance of media in the digital era is truly unprecedented, and so is the challenge that it poses.   More than anything else, living in a world of digital media means coping with a diversity of new situations and being able to negotiate that world with the widest possible repertoire of communication skills and technologies.


Overall, media literacy is a learned skill.  We can all become more or less adept at critically thinking about the mediated environment in which we live.  Moreover, media literacy is best understood as a continuum on which each person resides with varying degrees of proficiency.  People at the low end of the scale operate in an inveterately passive state during media exposure.  They generally accept the surface intentions of most everything they see and hear.


On the other end of the spectrum, higher levels of media literacy can be cultivated through conscious practice, affording each of us enhanced control over our interactions with the media environment.  Increased analytical and perceptual competence involves the ability to assess and appreciate media content from cultural and aesthetic points of view; and, most importantly, assumes the ability to infer values and engage in moral discourse concerning the mediated imagery we observe and experience daily.  Being multiliterate is the preferred way to be for all individuals in the digital era.