Friends, travel, and media landscapes

I’m back in bonnie Scotland, following an enjoyable couple of days in London. Remind me to tell you how much I like my friends, particularly the ones who enthuse hugely about my work, make brilliantly insightful comments, and/or buy me utterly tremendous steaks and entertain me with tales of gallant daring-do on the stormy seas of international finance.

I should probably avoid dwelling, however, on the implications of a seven-hour journey on a standing-room-only train. While there was a charming Dunkirk spirit amongst the displaced air travelers, rather amusingly those of us who’d had rail tickets all along were merely in their way, and most certainly not in their club.

Prior to all that, however, an aside. A report today on the downward spiral of physics education in the UK, from the University of Buckingham (report itself here). I’m particularly interested in the apparent lack of impact of combined science GCSEs on both A-level entries and gender imbalance.

In the same paper, a report on OFCOM’s annual communications market report, published today. Of particular note:

There is evidence of a significant difference in communications usage patterns between young adults and the general population: for example, 16-24 year olds spend on average 21 minutes more time online per week, send 42 more SMS text messages, but spend over seven hours less time watching television.

The conjunction of these two is, of course, why we’re trying to make SciCast happen. It’s all very well trying to save children’s TV but, you know, the plain fact is that we’ve had a long-term problem with the audience buggering off elsewhere. Carrying on making TV doesn’t solve that problem; moving the distribution medium towards the audience… doesn’t either, but it has to be a better approach.

SciCast is about science factual ‘programmes’ in particular, but my train of thought with it is much more general. There’s no point continuing to think in terms of television-based ‘programme formats,’ there simply isn’t an audience for them. SciCast has the same goals – heck, the same content – as The Big Bang, but the approach leaves TV behind and plays to the strengths of the web.

For children’s TV to survive, I think they have to ditch the ‘TV’ part.

(In the unlikely event that any TV production company wants me to come and rant at them for being dinosaurs – despite my being ‘one of them’ – I am, of course, available for consultancy.)

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