The Lessons of Lost & Thoughts on an Augmented TV platform

Great post by Andy Greenwald for Grantland about how Lost is, to this date, the only TV show able to create (and most importantly, constantly challenge and re-shape) a world of discussions and speculations online about how events would turn out.

The truth is, Lost diehards — and I count myself among them — would never have been satisfied with the show’s ending, no matter what form it took, because it pulled the plug on our endless, joyous speculating. If we’re being honest, none of us ever wanted to be found.

I loved Lost and I still regard it as one of the most exciting examples of video art that I've been exposed to. I do agree with Andy that Lost was the first TV show build from the ground up for a world where the point is not just watching, but commenting, discussing, speculating with your friends around the immense water cooler that is the internet. I'm not sure whether this was a conscious choice, more likely it came from the Abraham's love for mistery and oddity, but one way or the other it created a space for people to dream, to imagine and rave on the internet about what's next. It is striking that after 10 years so few TV shows follow this path (though I see something similar - though on a different scale - on the speculations about the Game of Thrones ending), but I believe it's not just about content. I find it even more striking that in 2014 we still don't have a common platform for discussions around entertainment.

I live in Copenhagen and most of my best friends are in other countries (some are in Italy, others in London, Singapore, Colombia etc). Italians typically gather in front of a TV to watch the world cup together, but this last summer we realised that we just could not be all in the same place. So we created a Whatsapp group and "watched" the games together. It was fantastic. For the first time in years I just could not wait to sit in front of my TV to enjoy a couple of hours of chatting with my friends. Looking back, the games were just the excuse (or maybe it's just that Italy sucked...), the real fun was commenting and digressing and just wasting time with the people I love. Like I would have done 10 years ago after watching lost.

But a messaging app - or Twitter for a public group - is a very poor experience for something like this. You're forced to divide your attention between two screens and, most importantly, between the content (the social object) and your friends (the social company). I know that many experiments were made on TV commenting platforms, but for a reason or another none of them got real traction, mostly because the TV industry is a huge and extremely solid maze filled with people, money, interests and laws. Still I wonder if there's a way to create a better model...