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Scenario 6:
Interactive Television

Kathy Raitoob is a producer of television programming. She has produced award-winning television specials, educational shows for public television, and is currently the primary creative force behind one of the most popular television series on network TV, a show that deals with extraterrestrial, psychic, and other unexplained phenomena.

The FCC has mandated compulsory conversion to digital television starting this year. The digital television standard includes provisions for advanced digital services, including the delivery of data (in particular, from the Internet) and other advanced digital services. Television producers like Kathy will be able to deliver interactive information and content directly to every television in the country. Both the television industry and the computer industry have been quick to recognize the potential of this convergence of TV and the Internet. Plans switched into high gear recently when cable industry giant TCI ordered 5 million set-top boxes that will have the ability to run Java applications.

Kathy has great ideas for interactive content. For her popular television series, she wants to provide sounds, photographs, video, and artist's animations giving detailed information about the various phenomena shown on each week's television show. She also wants to host online chat sessions featuring the actual people involved, such as people who have seen ghosts or aliens, or respected scientists studying these events. She also wants games; for example, to let people test their psychic abilities or look at photos of UFO's and decide which are hoaxes. And this is just the start. For her educational programs Kathy sees even more opportunities to provide interactive content.

Unfortunately, Kathy (like other TV producers) quickly runs into a roadblock. A television series creates a new show every week and she needs new interactive content to be delivered with every show, but the creative people she talks to say it takes months to produce content using current tools. When she asks if she can solve this problem by having a group work together on a project, they just laugh. With current tools, only one person can work on a project at a time. If your projects are the least bit ambitious like Kathy's, then you need help from computer programmers, and then things really get slow.

After viewing initial interactive content, media pundits are about to declare interactive television an expensive bust when a new tool is released, based on Spin. A company that works with interactive television has taken Spin and added some proprietary components. Now, building interactive content is much faster, and by having more than one designer work together, producers like Kathy can get new interactive content every week. Components can be reused from week to week, and during the summer months, when her show is in reruns, her designers and programmers can build reusable components that can easily be customized (without programming) for each week's show.

Spin becomes the standard tool for content production houses and television networks, which allows producers to share components. Content authors soon build up libraries of components, which makes it faster and easier to produce interactive content for new television shows. Soon, TV stations are producing interactive content to go with the nightly news!

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