Just to prove regulators need not impose a "fairness" mandate on this blog, I would offer this partial (okay, minimal) rejoinder to my comments yesterday on digital TV. I argued then that we need to put arguably smallish issues like "converter boxes" behind us to free spectrum for innovative services like wireless broadband.
In the course of giving the ether a stern talking to, I suggested that TV was mostly "trivial and titillating." But today on National Public Radio's "Morning Edition" (yes, Virginia, sometimes "market-oriented" people listen to NPR), author Steven Johnson argued that the complexity of plot in modern TV shows like "Alias," "The Sopranos" and "24" may account in part for higher levels of intelligence among viewers in recent years. Johnson contrasted such plot complexity with the formulaic simplicity of shows many of us grew up on: "The Love Boat," the "Dukes of Hazzard" and (eek!) "Joanie Loves Chachi."
I would note, however, that Johnson and I are in agreement to the extent we see some upsides to TV. (I pointed to its power to "educate and inform.") After all, I need some justification for my hours in front of the set -- other than it keeps me occupied while I await the added intelligence Johnson highlights . . .