Social TV and Second Screen Apps


Social television is “a general term for technology that supports communication and social interaction in either the context of watching television, or related to TV content” [1]. Each day millions of Facebook updates, Tweets or blog posts relate to television shows. Some of these comments relate to a particular TV show, at a particular moment and go stale very quickly. For example, during a live political debate a politician mis-quotes someone, makes an incorrect assertion or comments on a particular law. Quickly, the mass audience will post links to the law in question, post corrections or messages with links to past statements which contradict what is being said live on TV. Hashtags, lists, message boards or meta-pages rapidly emerge as hundreds, thousands or millions of people are simultaneously watching events unfold on screen. In other cases, viewers of a particular show will post trivia or links to images, videos or webpages related to the characters or real actors who are currently on screen. Generally, comments relate to a person, topic or location being discussed in a show, be it fictional or factual.

Social TV is “a growing force: the masses talking back through social media” [2]. Social TV, "It's about allowing people to engage a little more than they have been able to in the past with what they're watching, One of the great prompters of conversation is what you're watching on the telly. In the past we sit in the lounge room and talk to the person sitting next to us, in the future it will become easier and easier to engage with people who are not in the same room." [3] said ABC's manager of new media services, Chris Winter. Considering how we have interacted around television in the past it was once a clear example of same-time, same-place interaction but now this is changing to same-time, different place interaction with many others.

Social television systems can “integrate voice communication, social media, text chat, presence and context awareness, TV recommendations, ratings, or video-conferencing with the TV content either directly on the screen or by using ancillary devices.” [1]

I'm teaching an Advanced Interactive Technologies module in the University of St Andrews and for our second (and group) assignment we have 8 groups taking on a user-centered interaction design process for the development of a Social TV and Second Screen Application.

Students are completing a survey and analysis, requirements capture, paper prototype, low-fidelity mockup, testing the mockup with users. Following this we expect them to refine their mockups. Along with a report each team is going to present their design and mockup in public.

For the purposes of this project student teams are going to focus on exploring the integration of social media both directly on the screen and on ancillary devices.

Firstly, as a group they need to survey how social media is currently used by people watching live(real-time) or recorded TV shows including news, documentaries, movies, fictional shows, political debates, sports, arts and reality TV. Looking at examples from the European, African, UK, USA, Japan, China, Indian and Australian TV markets will inform their requirements and design.

Each project team are taking on the role of a user-centred interaction design team who has been tasked to create a second screen Social TV experience with Social Media for an imaginary client "MyTVTube".

I look forward to posting links to some examples of what the teams produce here in time!

    1. Social Television  
    2. A Social- Media Decoder  
    3. Social revolution coming to Australian TV [Sydney Morning Herald, Feb 23, 2012]

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