Heading to Germany for a Test Run
by Jason Mittell — Middlebury College
June 28, 2011 – 06:58
We’re in the countdown mode preparing for our trip to Germany, leaving Vermont on July 31 to settle in Göttingen for the year. But today I leave for a short trip to Germany to speak at the Storyworlds Across Media conference in Mainz, speaking about how television serials have struggled to find ways to incorporate transmedia storytelling effectively into their narrative strategies. The conference looks great, and I hope to connect with Europeans to network with during my year abroad.
I’m also taking advantage of being in Germany for a brief time to test out possible ways to plan for being a media scholar abroad. One of the challenges in packing for a year abroad is figuring out what type media I need to pack and what I can access online. So in the next few days I’ll be test driving my new Slingbox to see how well it plays with my TiVo as one way to maintain a connection to American TV while abroad. And I’ll also see how my VPN connection or connecting to a remote desktop server might help me get to Netflix, Hulu, etc. (Any advice is welcome!)
One of the odd side effects of technological innovation is that it creates stress through what it makes possible. A decade ago, the idea of streaming media libraries or a remote connections to my new TiVo was simply unthinkable, so I would have just accepted that a year abroad meant a year of being disconnected to American media. Now that I know what I could possibly access, I’m motivated to come up with strategies to maintain the connection. Two decades ago, the last time I lived abroad during a semester in London, I remember bringing dozens of CDs and a portable stereo so I wouldn’t have to grapple with months without music. Now I can fit thousands of songs on the various devices that we’re already bringing, but I’ve been furtively ripping my CD collection, planning for what various members of my family might want to listen to.
Not that I’m complaining – everything is amazing, I’ll try to be happy: