Television would be the black hole of amateur sociologizing of foreign cultures. So avoiding actual content, just examine the mirror-world exterior. New sets are in cinematic ratios, jetsons against the flintstone US ratios. Some time after buying a set, and the television detector van comes round, the TV license fee shows up in the post. The vans smell of a Brazil-style-dystopian myth, but are apparently real and accurate, unless you live in a council tower block. And then there’s teletext.

Lurking in the TV vertical blanking interval, is a 16 color digital netherworld. Somewhere, someone types and designs Apple IIe style screens of breaking news, weather, tv schedules, sports scores. Falling somewhere between the Internet and watching grass grow, it’s a wonderful hack. Choose a page, and wait until it’s rebroadcast, in a never ending loop of thousands of 45-byte packets.

Totally amazing to see pioneering digital info, sneak into a nation’s living room (and many other places worldwide). And a totally baffling relic. A feel so old, you can only imagine elderly and desperate Britons on holiday in Spain typing, and waiting. Yet, in some it inspires a bizarre nostalgia and bitterness…

we see yet another example of the decline in the BBC’s teletext output as the BBC encourage an ever increasing number of hits to their BBC World website.

As it slowly dies, perhaps teletext can be handed over to artists and designers. German teletext porn has already been inspirational.

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