The space shuttle Atlantis
just landed safely at Edwards AFB in California (because of weather on Florida). Nice landing, no visible problems, they're safeing the craft now.
I watched the landing live on CNN (Miles O'Brien is a really good science and space reporter), and saw most everything I wanted to. They even wised up, and took off some of the clutter for the landing. But that's what I want to talk about: the clutter. The logos, and scrawls, and dingbats, and, basically, shit that television networks have all decided they need to clutter the screen with.
Little logo in the corner, so we remember which channel we recorded the program from? Yeah, that sort of makes sense. And if you're a news channel, I guess the scrawl of less-than-top stories across the bottom might make sense. But how much of that other crap is necessary? In the specific case of CNN, they actually have to make an effort to remove some of the junk in order to let you see the picture (and when they re-ran the landing a minute or two later, they had the "Breaking News: Shuttle Lands Safely" bar over the bottom half of the picture, so I was only seeing the vehicle from the wing up, couldn't see the gear, couldn't see the runway). Do they simply not have a clue, or do they not care? Would it really be that much of a technological challenge to simply shrink the picture a bit so we could see it all (if they decided they need all that other garbage on the screen)?
And they're not even the worst offender. When you tune in to CNN, you know you're looking for news (lots of news, as much data as they can throw at you in as brief a time as possible, give me more, now now now!). But how many other networks have decided that, when you're watching a program, you don't really care about what's going on now; you're far more interested in this animated promotion they're going to stick right on the scene you're watching
for some other program? It's looking like all of them. And the lower-tier cable channels running mostly reruns? Well, forget it. They've decided the first 60 seconds of every act are completely meaningless, and you'd be far better off watching the animated ad for some program in a completely different genre that's going to be on next week (and sometimes they even come with sound, so you can't even hear what you're watching). I've given up on Spike TV for that reason.
But you get it on the first-run programs, too. There was an interesting episode of Star Trek: Voyager
when the ship was traveling through a dark nebula or a void, so dark that they couldn't see any stars. They gave us a ten-second shot out the viewscreen, just to give the viewers the same feeling the crew had, of traveling through absolute nothingness. It was a good idea, and would have been a great image—just flat black, nothing—except for the UPN logo in the lower right corner, and the little flashy thing in the upper left.
We get it: you're in the business of selling ads, not providing entertainment (or news, or whatever), but that doesn't mean you have to actively damage the entertainment you're giving us to sell those ads. I made a conscious decision with SFScope
have pop-up ads, to not have ads that interfere with the easy, comfortable reading of the site. I may be losing some business and some revenue because of the decision, but as far as my readers are concerned, I'm providing a service, I'm not selling them ads. If they like what they're getting, I hope they'll realize that I only make money if they actually do click an ad or two, but that's how the business works.
End screed against evil, stupid television networks.