Thursday, January 25, 2007

302.2345 Social Aspects of Television Case Study: 24

Commercial television and the Web have made a marriage, shaky at best some days (YouTube?), and maybe a perfect example of a technology mash-up of sorts on better days.

Case in point: possibly the hottest set of two numbers to come to the forefront since the speed limit was dropped to the double nickel level back in the 70s!

24, the real-time action thriller involving the agents of the mythological Counter Terrorist Unit (CTU) of the federal government and featuring the super hero character of Special Agent in Charge Jack Bauer, a man's man and a man not only mothers, but countless women, could and would love! Television hasn't seen the likes of him since Marshall Matt Dillion, I don't think.

Not only is the show a topic of conversation around the real water cooler on Tuesday mornings, it has a huge virtual water cooler community on the Web. Google the number 24 and Bauer together and you get about 25,400,000 hits. Search Blog, Bauer , and 24 and you get 1,420,000 hits.

The show has a slick website over at its parent network FOX site. You can catch up on missed episodes by watching streaming video pieces. One of the most interesting tabs is that of Profiles where the reader can toggle between the biographies of the actor and the character. Just where does reality stop and fiction begin?

In Wikipedia, there are 34 items in the contents list and countless links on the main page alone--a sea of "blue words" you might say. If you are unfamiliar with how Wikipedia monitors its articles, take a look at the Discussion and History tabs for this entry and see the incredibly minute details that are noted for editing and adding.

But this particular 21st century entertainment phenomenon rates its OWN WIKI. Not just an article in a Wiki, but the whole thing...all 1,573 articles and 2,220 images (so far) started on September 30th 2005. It includes its own "encyclopedia" of topics and its own list of worldwide community members. It includes information about the official magazine available on newsstands (yes, a real magazine printed on P-A-P-E-R!) and the reference books (their word, not mine!) available.

Would all of this hoopla be possible....or possible at this extreme level...if it were not for the social networking aspects of the Web and the partnership of the 2nd and 3rd screens of the technology world? Should education take a page from this particular case and from the many, many other worthy examples out there and see how to create the same level of interest and excitement for appropriate parts of the learning process? It is something to think about.


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