While many things seen on network television can be described in terms ranging from inane to just plain dumb, television does have its bright moments. In the future, there just might be a painless way to sort through the clutter and get to the good stuff.
Within the next few years, computers linked to video will be able to analyze all the networks have to offer and select only those programs or parts of programs which are of interest to an individual viewer.According to an article in the current issue of Video magazine which crystalballs the future of television, a project called Network Plus has a computer viewing incoming programs and selecting only specific material.
In addition to being able to select and record whole programs of interest, the computer will be able identify segments. For instance, NBC's Tom Brokaw might mention on the news that George Steinbrenner has decided to sell his majority stake in the New York Yankees.
Knowing the viewer is interested in baseball, the computer would instruct the VCR to record that segment. It would also be able to access on-line databases such as those offered by the newspapers, magazines and newsletters, and put together a whole package of material related to the Steinbrenner decision. The viewer would simply flip on his television once a day and get the whole story.
Programs that might have otherwise been missed can be recorded by the VCR without instruction. For instance, the computer has been programmed to "know" the viewer loves jazz. Knowing this, the computer goes ahead and tapes jazz great Lionel Hampton's appearance on the Cosby show.
The computer could also analyze the news pulled from several channels throughout the day and present a 15-minute synopsis for the viewer. This allows consumers to get a broad scope of the news and, at the same time, eliminate the possibility of a one-sided news tory.