Setting aside the first-order reasons for enjoying watching the inauguration, to me there's an interesting second-order issue that many people seemed to experience television in a public and communal manner that's not been the norm in the US. Or maybe because I'm not generally a viewer of sporting telecasts in public venues. Something about the Obama inauguration does seem on different level of public televisual culture - it is the disruption of daily routine to aggregate into makeshift audiences around available television sets. It's an unusual sight to me because a) this country has a proliferation of TV sets - probably more than one for every individual ; b) as a culture we tend to associate television with the domestic setting; and c) technology and social practice alike mean people often watch television well after its moment of broadcast.
Yet here is a moment in which liveness matters. It is not alone in this, of course (think September 11 as one prominent example), but it is remarkable to see both the liveness and a communal viewing create a televisual experience not too different, from say that in the 1960s - only without any trace of nostalgic reworking.
3 days ago