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Touch the button and someday you'll tell your grandchildren about it
November 7, 2008 9:52 AM   Subscribe

Can you tell a person on television just what you think? If you live in Columbus, Ohio, you would be able to tell the people at a television station how you feel. All you have to do is push a button. The people in this city are trying out a new kind of television called QUBE TV.
posted by Otis (40 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
please let it be attached their testicles (or equivalent)
posted by DU at 9:54 AM on November 7, 2008 [3 favorites]


The obligatory Wikipedia article.
posted by ardgedee at 10:01 AM on November 7, 2008


Oh! That's why they call it an ' idiot box '. Please remove 'Mind of Mencia' he's the sole reason why I can't watch Comedy Central.
posted by doctorschlock at 10:04 AM on November 7, 2008


Hey Kids! Look at the clown. Would you like to see him naked?
posted by doctorschlock at 10:05 AM on November 7, 2008


One time a couple had a baby in Columbus and Qube users voted on what name to give the child (I think they picked Elizabeth).
posted by kozad at 10:13 AM on November 7, 2008


A "new kind of television" -- I remember when I though that QUBE was what the future looked like.

My brother moved to Cinncinnati in the early 80s. When I would visit, I was fascinated with the QUBE box in his living room. I don't recall ever participating in a single television show that used the QUBE service, but I knew that the possibility was there. There was talk that we would use QUBE boxes at home to elect our the Presidents in the 21st century.

This really brings back some really good early 80s nostalgia. Thanks for the post.

I might be wrong in this, but wasn't there at least one major network television show that incorporated QUBE participation into their programming? That's Incredible, maybe?
posted by grabbingsand at 10:13 AM on November 7, 2008


Hey Kids! Look at the clown. Would you like to see him naked?

Maybe on channel P10.

Brilliant for them, when they invented pay-per-view, they knew porn had to be part of it. Such a quaint listing of films:

Fanny Hill
Captain Lust
Notorious Cleopatra
Love Play
Karla
Teenage Milkmaid
The Swinging Cheerleaders
posted by ALongDecember at 10:13 AM on November 7, 2008


Teenage Milkmaid. Milk me! Milk me!
posted by doctorschlock at 10:20 AM on November 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


And here I thought Obama's idea was original.
posted by gman at 10:23 AM on November 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


ALongDecember - they knew porn had to be part of it. Such a quaint listing of films...

Band Name: Teenage Milkmaid and the Swinging Cheerleaders

And surely there must already be a rap or hip-hop artist named 'Notorious Cleopatra'.
posted by ShameSpiral at 10:28 AM on November 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


Pay-per-view seems kind of spendy: the inflation calculator I stumbled across says $(1977) 3.50 = $(2007) 11.85.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 10:29 AM on November 7, 2008


This clearly failed because there was no GET THAT CLOWN THE FUCK AWAY FROM ME button.
posted by Wolfdog at 10:35 AM on November 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


I was watching the porn channel and I told QUBE that I thought it was interesting and then I told QUBE that it was a little more interesting and then I told QUBE that it was REALLY REALLY interesting and then I told QUBE I'd lost all interest and was going to sleep.
posted by mcstayinskool at 10:36 AM on November 7, 2008



This clearly failed because there was no GET THAT CLOWN THE FUCK AWAY FROM ME button.


I do hate clowns.
posted by clearly at 10:37 AM on November 7, 2008


"Most of you agree that the clown should fall into a vat of lye. For those of you who chose the thresher, I'm sorry, but this just isn't your week."
posted by Wolfdog at 10:49 AM on November 7, 2008


This is a fantastic example of how we always mess up when talking about the future. They understood that media would quickly become more interactive, which is more than must of us understood in 1981. But they couldn't get past thinking of television as a stream with one central source.

Now, you can choose which color hat the clown gets to wear. And you can see the clown wearing that color hat, whether the majority of viewers agrees with you or not. You can talk to other viewers about what color hat you think the clown will wear, and arrange Meetups with viewers who like the same color as you. You can create your own version where the clown wears a purple hat and upload it to YouTube. Or you can make your own clown and license it under creative commons so other people can color it however they like.

This is why I'm always dubious when I hear people talking about mobile marketing et al. Yes, media will no longer be restricted to TVs and PCs, but something's going to come along and replace these cheap pieces of plastic in our pockets.
posted by roll truck roll at 10:52 AM on November 7, 2008 [4 favorites]


It's no TELIDON!
posted by GuyZero at 10:55 AM on November 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Hey Kid! Climb inside the television. Welcome to Clownworld.
Stop screaming. This is the real world in Black and White. You'll live as love as the set stays on. If your dad or mom changes the channel..you get adopted.
posted by doctorschlock at 10:55 AM on November 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


This clearly failed because there was no GET THAT CLOWN THE FUCK AWAY FROM ME button.

Oh man, you're not kidding. There's no way I'd want to interact with this clown. QUBE or no QUBE.
posted by eschatfische at 10:56 AM on November 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


You know, the whole reason I like watching TV (at least when I'm watching a show I like) is so I don't have to think or talk back to anyone. When I want to do that, I go online or find a bar and harangue a drunk stranger. TV is for vegging out and chuckling, it's good at that, let it have it's niche.
posted by jonmc at 10:57 AM on November 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


jonmc-the whole reason I like watching TV...is so I don't have to think or talk back to anyone. When I want to do that, I go online or find a bar and harangue a drunk stranger.
posted by ShameSpiral at 11:09 AM on November 7, 2008


This clearly failed because there was no GET THAT CLOWN THE FUCK AWAY FROM ME button.

Oh man, you're not kidding. There's no way I'd want to interact with this clown. QUBE or no QUBE.


For the love of all that is holy, get it away from me!
posted by Pollomacho at 11:09 AM on November 7, 2008


Is there a button for "I feel like crap, naturally, as I do everyday, because I live in the 4th-best city in frickin' Ohio??"
posted by Mister_A at 11:10 AM on November 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


Additionally, nightmarish video footage of QUBE's first broadcasts -- clown in tow -- in this interview video.

This is not what anyone wanted the future to look like. With the aggressive editing, this really comes off as a real-life version of anything from Tim and Eric Awesome Show Great Job!
posted by eschatfische at 11:11 AM on November 7, 2008


Would they even really need to hook the boxes up to anything?

I mean, it's not like any of the button-pushers would have been able to distingush a pre-recorded program from something they were supposedly influencing.

This is the problem with applying something as hopelessly flawed as secret ballot voting to something as perfect and sacrosanct as television.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:22 AM on November 7, 2008


Can you imagine if this was tied to the elections during the Town Hall? Oh the comedy.
posted by dasheekeejones at 11:31 AM on November 7, 2008


Cool window to the past. I would have thought there had been an FPP about QUBE already, so thanks for filling that space in.
posted by not_on_display at 11:40 AM on November 7, 2008


64 colors. 1 blank sheet of paper.
64 times 1 times millions of little bright little new exploring brains
Priceless.
posted by Mblue at 11:44 AM on November 7, 2008


Teenage Milkmaid

Actually, I think it's called "Bobber O'Reilly."
posted by uncleozzy at 11:46 AM on November 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Mom! The clown's here. Mom!

Hey Kid! Stop all the downloading.
posted by doctorschlock at 11:55 AM on November 7, 2008


Teenage Milkmaid

Actually, I think it's called "Bobber O'Reilly."


"THEY'RE ALL BREASTED!!"
posted by jonmc at 11:56 AM on November 7, 2008


Man, why does Columbus always get the tv voting buttons?
posted by rmless at 1:17 PM on November 7, 2008


I didn't see any pictures of it that showed the cord. That cord was no joke. See the 2 wires right here? Yeah man, that's how big those joints were. It was industrial strength. I swear when they pulled that girl out of the tv in Poltergeist, they used the cord on that thing. It was thicker than a telephone wire. The buttons were stiff and gunk always got down in there. And none of that smooth digital stuff either. When you changed channels, you might as well have been connecting two live power sources because the button made noise, the qube box made noise and the channels switching made noise. It was good for watching NFL football though, to switch back and forth between Randal Cunningham scrambling and Dorsett running. Man the 80's were so analog bad ass that if you remember all this stuff hard enough, a heavy as hell wet-then-dried-crunchy-then-wet nerf football might just careen out of the sky, hit you and leave that round pattern on your clothes.
posted by cashman at 1:44 PM on November 7, 2008


These 2 wires.
posted by cashman at 1:45 PM on November 7, 2008


I think the idea is pretty interesting. You could do something similar on the internet with live video streaming.
posted by nedkingsley at 2:43 PM on November 7, 2008


FUCK YOU, CLOWN.
posted by swell at 4:46 PM on November 7, 2008


Oh god. Thanks for this post; it's a pure blast of past. I was a kid in Columbus with his head stuck in the TV throughout the 70s; Flippo the Clown is *shudder* a part of my childhood; I watched him show movies before the local news for a long time. He was alternately stupid and horrible and mildly funny and cynical; old school Columbus heads will tell you pot-smoking college kids liked him as much as elementary-schoolers, but I kind of doubt that. He was what was on every afternoon, so we, the local TV nation, watched. He did his best to entertain us.

In 30,000 homes scattered around the city and its suburbs, QUBE viewers watched endless innovations, including infomercials (both infomercials and pay-per-view were begun at QUBE, as was MTV).

Bullshit. We were relatively early adopters of pretty much everything TV-related (and I'm sure my dad was mainly interested in Qube's porn possibilities), but the above is not only ridiculously breathless about the "endless innovations" we were offered, but also wildly exaggerates the number of homes actively using Qube. Go to 5:00 in this Flippo clip for a more realistic take on exactly how many people were watching Qube - hint: 700 is the magic number - and be sure to watch from 5:45 - 6:00 where the exec refuses to even present a "ballpark figure" to the reporter. My memory of Qube is mostly lots of hype about how great it was for 1) selling me stuff I didn't need, and 2) telling me how much fun it would be to play dumb "tell us what you think!" games that did nothing for me but show how boring the people behind it were. They really didn't seem to know what to do with it. Seriously. I was 13 and no one I knew talked about Qube; in my memory the hype lasted about a month and then disappeared forever.

Now that I think of it, I should thank Qube for being my first education in overhyped technology. Useful lesson, that.
posted by mediareport at 5:22 PM on November 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Hey! You! Dance, monkey!

Perfect for that.

“The Swinging Cheerleaders”

I just picture a bunch of cheerleaders playing clarinets and trombones in one of those big band set ups.
Conversely, there’s a guy on NPR who plays big band music and sometimes ends his show saying “If you want to know where we are, we’ll be swinging in the studio” Spit out my nuun at that one. I mean - I’m picturing some old guy in the NPR studios with the big 70’s medalian. Shag carpeted van out front. With this big band music coming out of it.
posted by Smedleyman at 5:37 PM on November 7, 2008


I "lived" in Columbus briefly in the late 1970s. I remember Qube primarily for the opportunity it offered to respond instantly to Jimmy Carter's so-called Malaise Speech (also called the Crisis of Confidence Speech). The immediate reaction by Qube subscribers was overwhelmingly positive, as I recall. History, it seems, disagreed, though it apparently did no harm to the careers of the actual authors, Hendrik Hertzberg, Gordon Stewart, and Chris Matthews, et al.







. . . what was that again about the porn?
posted by Herodios at 8:00 PM on November 7, 2008


"How Do You Like Your Eggs?", an interactive game show on QUBE hosted by none other than Bill Cullen!
posted by evilcolonel at 8:05 AM on November 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


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