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  • Archive for category Media noise

    New York Times is Wrong to Force-Feed Its Content

    Like so many media companies, the New York Times is fighting a battle to maintain its place in the journalism order as people read less and, when they do read, increasingly do it online, where so much content is free.

    But the venerable newspaper is putting itself on the wrong side of history by partnering with a digital out-of-home (DOOH) TV company whose business model is based on force-feeding content to people who haven’t asked for it and in some cases can’t get away from it.

    The Times announced last week that it had signed a deal with RMG Networks, a company that operates tens of thousands of screens in public places where people either can’t or have to pay a high opportunity cost to get away from the unwanted content.

    The newspaper says its content will be aired exclusively on 850 screens and more screens are in the works. Mixed in with its content will be advertisements. In commenting on the deal, Linda Kaplan Thaler, an advertising agency executive, says advertisers like these screens because people often have little choice but to consume the content because people become “captive for a while.”

    In saying that its content will air on the 850 screens, the New York Times is being disingenuous. What it really means is its content will be force-fed to people who are in proximity to the screens and who can’t just walk away if they don’t want the unwanted intrusion.

    Although we at Media by Choice understand the economic pressure even admirable media companies are under, force-feeding their content to people is a short-term tactic that adds to the visual and audio noise from which people today are trying to escape. We think the New York Times is smirching its good name by stooping to something as crass as digital out-of-home media.

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    Out-of-home TV: blight on steroids

    Researchers say we’re biologically conditioned to look at and listen to sudden changes in our environment, so we always turn to things that move and make noise.

    This involuntary attention kept us alive when the evolutionary competition between us and big, hungry cats was more equal. But today, the big cats are in the zoo and in their place we have a big, hungry industry that does nothing all day except find ways to tweak our involuntary attention so they can sell us things or otherwise push their message out to us.

    First it was print advertising, including billboards, and now it’s out-of-home TV and other audio-video media.

    A lot of people intensely dislike the way we’ve blanketed our public space with print ads, but, for better or for worse, that’s a condition to which most people have reconciled themselves. The ads don’t move and make noise for the most part, so we can share our public space with them and still concentrate on the things we want to concentrate on; they’re not constantly pushing our involuntary-attention button or exciting our orienting response, another term from researchers on involuntary attention.

    But now the scene changes to the coming era of out-of-home TV, in which our public space is turned over to screens, big and small, silent and noisy, and we have to ask ourselves whether we will reach a quality-of-life tipping point, because audio-video media is not a simple extension of print media; rather, it flips our relationship with media on its head and changes completely how we consume information.

    As Jordan Seiler of Public Ad Campaign puts it, “Advertising’s ability to hold our attention while we try to focus on what we as individuals consider important about the space we are moving through is a theft of our consciousness.” Public Ad Campaign is a group that likes to turn the tables on media companies by using their own bag of tricks aganst them.

    Audio-video media is what I like to call “push” media: it pushes out to us without regard to our desire to consume it; print media is what I like to call “pull” media: it must pull us in before we consume its content. If it doesn’t compel, it doesn’t sell, I guess you could say.

    In a world in which our public space is commandeered by audio-video “push” media, our ability to focus on the things we want to focus on is in a constant battle with those things that tweak our biological involuntary-attention button: screens whose formal attributes—edits, pans, zooms, bursts of sound—make us look and listen whether we want to or not.

    Executives and consultants in the out-of-home media industry use all sorts of semantic needle threading to make it seem like the content on their screens is there for us to consume if we choose. They call it “intentional” media and things like that, and they pay companies to survey people so they can show how much we like their media. And they talk about the importance of content, so they can point to the content’s relevance to our lives and in that way suggest that the content isn’t forced on us.

    The industry is surely going to succeed, but when our cities start to resemble Las Vegas and only the wealthy can afford to spend time in places that don’t look like a sports bar, the battle for control of our attention will be every bit as nasty as the battle between us and big, hungry cats.

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    Media by Choice Thanks Rep. Eshoo on Noisy TV Bill

    Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) is leading the way against captive-audience media by championing the successful House bill to curb loud TV commercials, Media by Choice says in a letter to Rep. Eshoo thanking her for her leadership on the issue.

    “The practice of media companies to hit viewers over the head with loud commercials is part and parcel with their practice of locating TV and other audio-video media in places where people can’t escape it,” Media by Choice says in its letter on H.R. 1084, the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation (CALM) Act.

    Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), sponsor of CALM Act

    Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), sponsor of CALM Act

    CALM passed the House last week and a similar bill is under consideration in the Senate. The bill directs the Federal Communicatons Commission to develop rules prohibiting media companies from broadcasting commercials at a volume louder than the accompanying programming.

    Although TVs in the home is not a form of captive-audience media, because people choose when they watch TV, if at all, the practice of broadcasting commercials at a far higher volume than the accompanying programming has the effect of taking away people’s control of the media they consume and how they consume it.

    By forcing people to turn down the volume or hit the mute button at commercial breaks, or else just put up with the intrusion, the media companies are exploiting technology to force-feed content to people, leaving them with only a negative choice: either block the content or try to tune it out.

    Rep. Eshoo’s successful bill shows there’s a growing recognition of captive-audience media and a willingness to curb it.

    “Your leadership on this issue has shown that our representatives in Congress can come together to curb the abusive use of media technology,” Media by Choice says in its letter. “I hope you’ll continue to lead as the practice of captive-audience media spreads throughout our environment.”

    Read the full letter.

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    Federal TV Noise Bill Clears Hurdle

    In a major advancement against noisy TV, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation to force media companies to stop playing games with people and turn down the volume of commercials.

    Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), sponsor of CALM Act

    Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), sponsor of CALM Act

    From the point of view of this blog, TV in people’s houses is not captive-audience media: viewers choose when they watch TV, if at all. But the practice by media companies to hit viewers over the head with loud commercials is part and parcel with the practice of locating audio-video media in places where people can’t escape it: elevators, trains, taxicabs, street corners, bus stops, even restrooms.

    The spirit of the practice is to take away people’s control of the media they consume and how they consume it. By forcing people to turn down the volume or hit the mute button at commercial breaks, or else just put up with the noise, the media companies are exploiting technology to force-feed content to people and leave people with only a negative choice: accept it or block it.

    The Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation (CALM) Act, H.R. 1084, in the government’s official summary, “would require the Federal Communications Commission to prescribe a standard to preclude commercials from being broadcast at louder volumes than the program material they accompany.”

    This bill has been in the works for several years and I looked into it when was writing Noise Wars. It’s a fair approach for addressing an unfair practice. The bill wisely gives the FCC wide latitude in fleshing out how the prohibition would be put into place.

    Of course, the moderate approach of the bill didn’t stop a handful of members of the Energy and Commerce Committee from dissenting in the House report on the bill. About a dozen of the committee members said it would be hard for media companies to implement and that the recent digital TV law already addresses the issue. But all the digital TV law does is map out a protocol for media companies to address the issue voluntarily as part of a larger effort to produce accepted standards of audio production. Given media companies’ track record on captive-audience media, something tells me the only voluntary standards that will be agreed to are those that result in the most sales for their advertisers.

    In my view, it’s this same deference to advertisers that’s behind CNN’s patronizing attitude toward the bill. In it’s report on the House vote, the media company quoted two analysts whose focus wasn’t on the success of the bill but how small and insignificant it is. “When Congress can’t solve big problems like Iraq and Afghanistan and 10 percent unemployment and how to implement this health care bill they are trying to pass, they turn to small problems like blasting television commercials,” John Ashford, a political consultant, is quoted as saying.

    “This is a dumb bill but I love it. I really do,” media analyst Mark Hughes is quoted as saying.

    CNN can say it’s just quoting these analysts, but in journalism, editors decide how a story should be angled, what questions should be asked, and who gets quoted and who doesn’t. That CNN chose to make the bill’s passage seem quaint rather than significant is an editorial decision and its coverage of the issue was dismissive.

    In fact, Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) is to be commended for not only getting the bill through the House but for getting 90 other House members to sign on as cosponsors. I can say with certainty that anytime you can get a quarter of the House to join you on a bill, you have an issue that has wide and broad support. That’s nothing to be dismissive about.

    The effort to curb noisy TV commercials now turns to the Senate, where Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) has introduced the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act, S. 3156.

    The momentum of this issue coupled with the demise of BusRadio, the compulsory commercial radio company that exploited children on school buses, shows that awareness of captive-audience media is increasing. As media companies continue to try to force-feed people their content, that awareness will only grow.

    Take our survey

    Is TV in public places good or bad? Let us know your thoughts in this Media by Choice survey on the good and the bad of TV in public places such as elevators, taxi cabs, subways, trains, buses, airport gates, doctor’s offices, office and hotel lobbies, and so on. Click here to take survey.

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    DOOH and involuntary attention: cynical manipulation

    Why do the police trigger their sirens and flashing lights when they’re trying to cut through traffic? The answer is something we never had to learn about in school: the noise and the light command our attention.

    Researchers have been looking into what’s known as “involuntary attention” for years and what they’re finding has much to say about what our future will look like in a world where TV and other audio-video media is everywhere. When you go to pump your gas? There’s a TV on the pump. Checking into a hotel? There’s a TV in the lobby. Relaxing at the bar? TVs are ubiquitous. Riding the subway? TVs are in your future.

    Why this explosion of TV everywhere, especially when more people than ever are electing to lead TV-free or TV-reduced lifestyles?

    The answer lies in what researchers are learning about involuntary attention. Why do we find nature walks relaxing? Because the brain enjoys taking a vacation from concentration and likes to be told what to attend to: what to look at and what to listen to. It likes to eschew responsibility and have decisions made for it. Nature walks help facilitate this by forcing us to attend to sudden changes in our environment such as that red bird that flits ahead in the trees or that squirrel that dashes up the tree trunk. We like it when we can let down our guard and let sudden movement and noise direct our attention to all the things going on around us. No doubt that’s why people like wandering around a shopping mall or sipping coffee at an outdoor cafe and people-watching.

    It’s safe to say that researchers pretty much know why we like TV so much. The formal aspects of TV—the edits, the scene changes, the background music—are like an “involuntary attention” symphony. Our brain never has to take charge; it just has to sit back and, like on a nature walk, let the formal aspects of TV command our attention.

    Of course, our brain isn’t a total slacker. As John Medina makes clear in his book Brain Rules, our brain’s preference for being told where to look and what to listen to is first and foremost a survival mechanism; if that sudden movement in the bushes to our right didn’t command our attention, we might be a predator’s next meal.

    But here we are in 2010 and the predators in the natural world are subdued for all intents and purposes. Involuntary attention helps us cross the street safely and avoid getting elbowed on a crowded train, but it also has a lot of downtime. And one thing we know about our senses, they like to be used. As Marshall McLuhan said, if we can entertain our ears, our ears like to be entertained; and if we can entertain our eyes, our eyes like to be entertained.

    Enter digital out-of-home (DOOH) media such as place-based TV networks and other captive-audience audio-video platforms. Like the siren and flashing lights on a police cruiser, the formal aspects of these media—the flashing light, the unremitting audio—exploit and manipulate our involuntary attention.

    The content of this media doesn’t really matter, because it’s the formal aspects that force us to watch. Our brain involuntarily sends our eyes and our ears to the screen and to the audio. If we want to concentrate on something else, it’s up to us to try to tune it out: the burden is placed on us, the captives, to say no, while the perpetrator doesn’t have to do anything—except maybe not offend; if the media content offends us, then we might raise objection. That’s no doubt why so much out-of-home content is always the same inanity centered around sports and celebrity gossip.

    As we face a future of TV everywhere—on street corners, in elevators and hotel lobbies, on trains and buses, and so on—the question for us is, who has the right to command our attention? We allow the siren and lights of a police cruiser to command our attention because we have a compact with the police, who are public servants.

    But what compact do we have with captive-audience media companies? We have none. They’re simply and cynically manipulating our involuntary attention for their own ends.

    The blog tvSmarter is doing some great work in the area of involuntary attention and I highly recommend it for its thoughtful, important work.

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    Brain Rules and TV: One Dimensional Lifestyle

    I’m reading a great book on the brain called Brain Rulesthat makes me both hopeful and fearful about what our future is going to look like from a captive-audience media perspective.

    For those of you tuning into this blog for the first time, captive-audience media is audio and video media located in places where we can’t ignore it. Think of TV in the backseat of cabs, on elevators, and in buses, trains, and subways as a few examples.

    Brain Rules author John Medina, a molecular biologist, talks about how the brain learns. As we take in and use new information, little pathways and connections in different parts of our brain multiply. That’s something you’ve no doubt heard before.

    The good news is that we continue to grow these pathways throughout our life, so we remain capable of adapting to new environments.

    The bad news is that the portion of our brain devoted to visual perception, already the biggest of all our senses, keeps getting bigger. That growth comes at the expense of other senses. In other words, the battle for growth in our brain is a zero-sum game: as the pathways and connections related to visual perception grow, space for pathways and connections related to our other senses shrink. It’s probably safe to say that our sensitivity to smell was at one time much stronger than it is today, but our visual dominance crowded that out.

    This is important because as our common areas get increasingly turned over to audio-video media—when was the last time you went to an airport restaurant that didn’t have a bank of TVs blaring at you?—the pathways and connections in our brain related to processing this type of content will grow.

    Of course, the strengthening of our visual processing capabilities relates to your ability to read this blog, too. But there are more battles going on in our brains than just our visual sense competing against our other senses; there are battles going on within the visual processing areas.

    Medina says different parts of the brain specialize in different parts of visual processing. Thus, the more you’re exposed to a certain type of visual stimuli, the more we grow the pathways and connections that specialize in that type of stimuli.

    In a nutshell, then, the growth of audio-video media is quickly creating its own demand: the more we’re exposed to banks of TVs in restaurants and all the other places we gather outside the home, the more our brain reorganizes itself to accommodate that type of input—and the less our brain is able to organize itself for other types of information. The one crowds out the others.

    If you think about the difficuty young people today have at reading and writing, it stands to reason that reading and writing won’t come naturally to them. How could they? They’ve grown up watching TV, playing video games, and surfing the Internet in their bedrooms.

    If it’s true their brains are being wired mainly for audio-video consumption, so be it. You can’t stand in the way of change. But this push into captive-audience media by companies whose only motivation is to make money sounds a lot like the tobacco industry a century ago, when the rush was on to get consumers hooked on smoking.

    Well, we’ve finally learned something about smoking, but now we have cynical companies flooding the places we gather outside the home with TVs, artificially limiting our media choices and making it increasingly difficut to read or even just sit and think.

    Medina himself thinks using audio-video media to learn is a fine idea, but what his discussion of the brain makes clear is that our difficulty in reading in the face of banks of TVs isn’t a mystery: it’s the inevitable result of our brain pushing out other types of processing centers so it can make room for more processing of today’s increasingly ubiquitous audio-video content.

    It’s a zero-sum game, and captive-adience media is stacking the deck in its favor.

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    To Bob Garfield: DOOH is not “listenomics”

    Bob Garfield’s book The Chaos Scenario (2009: Stielstra Publishing) talks about the dismantling of traditional media at the hands of digital media. For businesses that have relied on TV, radio, and print media to advertise their products and services, the changing landscape means a change in strategy: from talking at consumers to working with them, via social media. Garfield calls the new strategy “listenomics” because it means listening to consumers and engaging them directly. Garfield is co-host of NPR’s On the Media.

    All that sounds great. Who wouldn’t want to see one-way communication from advertisers changed to two-way communication between advertisers and consumers? As Garfield says, consumers have made it clear they avoid advertisers whenever they have the chance, so advertisers have only one choice for reaching cosumers in today’s digital age: enaging them in a relationship that respects them.

    The story would be beautiful if it ended there but unfortunately it doesn’t.

    Speaking at the OVAB Digital Media Summit hosted by the Out-of-Home Video Advertising Bureau, Garfield was quoted in a write-up as saying that advertisers still have one “mass media” option left to them: digital out-of-home (DOOH) media—captive-audience media. As he put it, “Out-of-home is the last great play in the advertising world.” Why? Because consumers “can avoid traditional media, but out-of-home media is the one exception to that.”

    Garfield surely realizes out-of-home is the antithesis of the listenomic strategy he introduced to us. Where listenomics means tapping social media to respect consumers, learn their needs, and solve their problems, out-of-home media means bludgeoning consumers with intrusive, invasive content that people haven’t asked for and, what’s worse, they can’t escape without paying a high opportunity cost.

    TV on elevators, gas pumps, in the backseat of cabs, on subways, trains, and buses, on street corners—TV and audio media are hard to ignore and impossible to really tune out, even when we think we are. There is nothing respectful or collaborative about captive-audience media. It is far more intrusive than even traditional media, which at least gives its consumers the option to shut them off. With out-of-home media, there are TVs but no Off button.

    No doubt Garfield’s message that out-of-home media is the last great advertising play is music to the ears of people at the digital media summit at which he spoke, since they’re in the business of capturing consumers against their will and force-feeding them content that no one has asked for.

    But there was one other thing Garfield said that should give anyone in captive-audience media pause, and it was this: “You need to make sure that an irritated consumer doesn’t become an irate consumer.”

    I know captive-audience media people say consumers love their content and that we all love nothing more than to have audio-video content pushed out to us against our will, but reality is not quite as pristine as an industry’s privately funded and designed surveys show.

    When out-of-home media people talk about “engaging” consumers with their content, their use of the word is Orwellian, to say the least, and I think Garfield should call them on it. An “engagement” isn’t a shotgun marriage; it’s not forcing something onto someone else; an engagement is two people mutually agreeing to something.

    Pushing out audio-video content to people while they’re in a subway car or on an elevator is not mutual, it’s not collaborative, its not engaging, and it’s not respectful. I hope the out-of-home media industry has its listening ears on.

    Take our survey

    Is TV in public places good or bad? Let us know your thoughts in this Media by Choice survey on the good and the bad of TV in public places such as elevators, taxi cabs, subways, trains, buses, airport gates, doctor’s offices, office and hotel lobbies, and so on. Click here to take survey.

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    DOOH suffers from cognitive bias

    There is an entire field of study on cognitive biases in the way we see things, as individuals and as groups. “Bias blind spot,” “choice-supportive bias,” and “the base rate fallacy” are among the ways we reinforce what we believe and disregard what we don’t believe.

    I believe the digital out-of-home media industry—the people who put TVs on trains, buses, subways, taxis, gas station pumps, elevators, office lobbies, and so on— is suffering from a big case of cognitive bias.

    At conferences and in research reports, executives and consultants in the DOOH industry (as it’s called in some cases) claim that consumers like captive-audience media—that is, they like audio-video media they haven’t asked for in places where they can’t escape it.

    As one executive at a recent conference says (as quoted in an industry report), “Studies consistently show that people do not mind—in fact, ‘invite’ media in out-of-home environments that stimulate them emotionally and intellectually.”

    But I believe DOOH executives and consultants have spent too much time reading their own press releases. I have yet to talk to a single person who says they like TV in grocery stores, on gas pumps, in cabs, or in doctor’s offices. At most, they put up with the TV out of the belief that that kind of media is just part of the landscape now. What’s more, whenever consumers are quoted in newspapers and magazines on TVs in restaurants and other out-of-home settings, many of the quotes are typically about how irritating the TVs are. And those are just the polite comments printed in the story. When you read people’s online comments about captive-audience media, the quotes tend to have more exclamation points.

    That said, I don’t doubt for a second that the studies being pointed to by DOOH industry people do in fact support their contention that we love being made captive to audio-video media. For a company or an industry to produce studies supporting what they want them to support is a time-honored tradition and something anyone who’s completed Statistics 101 can do. I recall two “studies” that came out within the last three months that show people liking TV in two different types of out-of-home settings (one a retail setting, the other a medical one). I put “studies” in quotes because they came from an independent firm that measures audience traffic but the studies were commissioned by the out-of-home media companies. Um, that means the media companies paid this independent company to “study” whether people like their product. Neither of the press releases that came out mentioned the fact that the studies were paid for. When I called the media contact on one of the press releases to confirm that the study was paid for, the contact threw back questions at me about whether I was media or not rather than just answer my question.

    As it is, I have my own study on captive-audience media and after only one day the results show overwhelmingly that people dislike TV in public places.

    The study isn’t objective, you say? Well, let’s look at this. The way I spread word about the survey was completely random. I simply tagged the blog page on StumbleUpon, Digg, Delicious, and Reddit. So I have no idea who will find the survey from those sites. I also tweeted about it, but I only have 40 followers, and some of them are just fronts for sites that sell Viagra, I think. There might even be a few DOOH people following me. I know the tweet was re-tweeted once, to a group that seems to have nothing to do with media of any kind. So, that seems pretty random.

    Here are results of my survey so far:

    * 75% say TV in public places is always or often an unwanted distraction
    * 100% say the information on the TV neither helps nor enriches their life
    * 100% say they would prefer to get information on specials at a grocery store on printed signs rather than in-house TV
    * 75% say TV in public places makes it hard for them to read or think
    * 100% say they’d rather read or think in a doctor’s waiting room than watch TV
    * 100% say piped-in commercial radio on a publicly subsidized train is a violation of liberty and privacy rights

    Those are the factual results from my survey one day after inviting people to voice their views. These results don’t match up with DOOH industry studies. If the different studies are equally factual, what can account for this divergence?

    In the DOOH report referenced earlier, called Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) of Digital Signage the author of the report, an industry consultant, listed threats and weaknesses to the DOOH industry. The report does not list people’s dislike of captive-audience media as a threat. My own view is that, as captive-audience media spreads further, people will take notice and at some point many people will say that captive-audience media is going too far.

    Do I suffer from cognitive bias? Listen, I’ve got the study to prove my contention.

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    Survey: is out-of-home TV good, bad, or both?

    Many people like having TV in public places. The TVs are a way to pass the time while you’re waiting to catch a flight or eating at a restaurant. Now that out-of-home TV is migrating to many other places—the backseat of taxis, for instance, and to elevators, buses, subways, trains, street corners, office and hotel lobbies, and doctor’s waiting rooms, among others—it’s appropriate to ask whether this is too much.

    Some people find out-of-home TV distracting and irritating, at least some of the time. Others find the TVs an invasion of their personal space. After all, the audio and video of TV in a public place washes over everyone indiscriminately. For some people, that’s just not right.

    What do you think? Take this 10-question survey and help us get some insight into the good and the bad of out-of-home TV. It only takes two minutes to participate, and it doesn’t ask you to provide any contact or other information.

    Click Here to take survey

    —R. Freedman

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    47 Anti-TV Books

    I’ve been seeing interest in our occasional posts updating various book collections we maintain, so I’m posting this update to our anti-TV book collection, now 47 titles strong. If you question why so much of our world is organized around screen media in general and TV in particular, you might find this collection of interest. I’ve done Internet searches on the topic and as far as I can tell this is the most complete list of anti-TV books available. If I’m missing a title, please let me know!

    47 anti-TV books:

    Noise Wars: Compulsory Media and Our Loss of Autonomy (Algora Publishing: 2009), Robert Freedman

    The Age of American Unreason (Vintage) (Vintage: 2009), Susan Jacoby

    Living Without the Screen (Lea’s Communication) (Routledge: 2008), Marina Krcmar

    The Assault on Reason (Penguin: 2008), Al Gore

    Media Unlimited, Revised Edition: How the Torrent of Images and Sounds Overwhelms Our Lives (Holt: 2007), Todd Gitlin

    Television (Dalkey Archive Press: 2007), Jean-Philippe Toussaint and Jordan Stump: FICTION

    Noise: How Our Media-saturated Culture Dominates Lives and Dismantles Families (Ascension Press: 2007), Teresa Tomeo

    Living Outside the Box: TV-Free Families Share Their Secrets (Eastern Washington University Press: 2007), Barbara Brock

    Remote Controlled: How TV Affects You and Your Family (Ebury Press: 2007), Aric Sigman

    The Big Turnoff: Confessions of a TV-Addicted Mom Trying to Raise a TV-Free Kid (Algonquon Books: 2007), Ellen Currey-Wilson

    Mediated: How the Media Shapes Our World and the Way We Live in It (Bloomsbury USA: 2006), Thomas de Zengotita

    Noise (Viking: 2006), Bart Kosko

    Everyware: The Dawning Age of Ubiquitous Computing (New Riders Publishing: 2006), Adam Greenfield

    iBrain: Surviving the Technological Alteration of the Modern Mind (Collins Living: 2008), Gary Small and Gigi Vorgan

    Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business (Penguin: 2005), Neil Postman

    The Business of Media: Corporate Media and the Public Interest (Pine Forge Press: 2005), David Croteau and William Hoynes

    The Medium is the Massage (Ginko Press: 2005) Marshall McLuhan and Quentin Fiore

    We Know What You Want: How They Change Your Mind
    (The Disinformation Company: 2004), Martin Howard and Douglas Rushkoff

    The New Media Monopoly (Beacon Press 2004), Ben Bagdikian

    Television after TV: Essays on a Medium in Transition (Console-ing Passions) (Duke Univ. Press: 2004), Lynn Spigel and Jan Olsson

    Feed (Candlewick: 2004), M.T. Anderson: FICTION

    The Problem of the Media: U.S. Communication Politics in the Twenty-First Century (Monthly Review Press :2004), Robert McChesney

    Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media (Pantheon: 2002), Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky

    The Plug-In Drug: Television, Computers, and Family Life (Penguin: 2002), Marie Winn

    T.V.: The Great Escape! : Life-Changing Stories from Those Who Dared to Take Control (Crossway Books: 2001), Bob DeMoss

    Bowling Alone : The Collapse and Revival of American Community (Simon & Schuster, 2001), Robert Putnam

    Ambient Television: Visual Culture and Public Space (Console-ing Passions) (Duke University Press: 2001), Anna McCarthy

    Coercion: Why We Listen to What They Say (Riverhead Trade: 2000), Douglas Rushkoff

    Glued to the Tube: The Threat of Television Addiction to Today’s Family (Sourcebooks: 2000), Cheryl Pawlowski

    Endangered Minds: Why Children Don’t Think And What We Can Do About It (Simon & Schuster: 1999), Jane Healy

    Culture Jam: How to Reverse America’s Suicidal Consumer Binge–And Why We Must (William Morrow: 1999), Kalle Lasn

    Spy TV (Slab O Concrete Publications: 1999), David Burke

    Get a Life! (Bloomsbury Publishing: 1998), David Burke and Jean Lotus

    Seducing America: How Television Charms the Modern Voter (Sage Publications: 1998), Roderick Hart

    The Commercialization of American Culture: New Advertising, Control and Democracy (Sage Publications: 1995), Matt McAllister

    …And There Was Television (Routledge: 1994), Ellis Cashmore

    Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man (The MIT Press: 1994), Marshall McLuhan, with an introduction by Lewis Lapham

    The Disappearance of Childhood (Vintage: 1994), Neil Postman

    The Unreality Industry: The Deliberate Manufacturing of Falsehood and What It Is Doing to Our Lives (Oxford Univ. Press: 1993), Ian Mitroff and Warren Bennis

    Conscientious Objections: Stirring Up Trouble About Language, Technology and Education (Vintage: 1992), Neil Postman

    The Age of Missing Information (Plume: 1993), Bill McKibben

    Television and the Quality of Life: How Viewing Shapes Everyday Experience (Communication Series) (Lawrence Eribaum: 1990), Robert William Kubey and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

    Fahrenheit 451 (Ballantine Books: 1987), Ray Bradbury: FICTION

    No Sense of Place: The Impact of Electronic Media on Social Behavior (Oxford Univ. Press: 1985), Joshua Meyrowitz

    What to Do After You Turn Off the TV (Ballantine Books: 1985), Frances Moore Lappe

    Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television (Harper Perennial: 1978), Jerry Mander

    The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man (Univ. of Toronto Press: 1962), Marshall McLuhan

    Take our survey

    Is TV in public places good or bad? Let us know your thoughts in this Media by Choice survey on the good and the bad of TV in public places such as elevators, taxi cabs, subways, trains, buses, airport gates, doctor’s offices, office and hotel lobbies, and so on. Click here to take survey.

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