Knowledge Building: The Internet vs. Television

Sometime ago, I remember a friend and I were talking about the internet and television as sources of information, which one is more useful, which one gives us more knowledge and generally comparing the two mediums.

At the end of the discussion we reached the conclusion that the main difference between the internet and TV is that one, the internet, is a “Pull” medium, while the other, TV, is a “Push” one.

Online, you generally know what you’re looking for or you have a little idea about it, so you search for it and go to places where you can find it, something you can do pretty easily; which means that it’s you who is pulling the information, seeking it, finding it and using it.

As for television, you don’t have much control over what’s on, you get a series for example, then the news, then some documentary, then some music, …etc. Information is pushed your way, some of it you were looking for, some other stuff you weren’t necessarily seeking but that gains your interest anyway, and other stuff you just ignore.

Even though sometimes the dividing line isn’t as clear, if we try to look a little closer, we can more or less find it in most cases.

But what does that mean? Which is more useful?
A direct thought could be that maybe the internet is better suited for research, diving deeper into what we already know a bit about and getting the information we need; while on the other hand, TV is a better source for general knowledge and initiating us to new kinds of information, with all the different bits and pieces it pushes at us, given we’re open to all these different things.

And so, these two mediums more or less compliment each other in our knowledge-building process, filling up each other’s gaps.

For example, many times, I’d get a bit of information on TV that I didn’t know about before, that I might have never gotten otherwise, something I would find really interesting, and that I would go on to research in greater detail online.

What’s your opinion on all this?

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Mohamed Marwen Meddah is a web development director, amateur photographer and web enthusiast from Tunisia, currently living in Canada.

5 thoughts on “Knowledge Building: The Internet vs. Television”

  1. A Book

    THERE is no frigate like a book
    To take us lands away,
    Nor any coursers like a page
    Of prancing poetry.
    This traverse may the poorest take
    Without oppress of toll;
    How frugal is the chariot
    That bears a human soul!

    Emily Dickinson

  2. I’m of the same opinion when it comes to books. There are very few things, if not almost none, that I’d prefer doing more than reading a good book.

    Anyway, here I just picked out the internet and television as mediums that I’m comparing to one another, but of course there are other mediums like books, magazines, and more that revolve in the same area, each at a certain level of efficiency and usefulness.

  3. Since my university years, I have been enjoying my TV FREE Life.

    My main source of information has been the internet.

    Your argument might have been more accurate if you were talking about the internet 5 years ago, when not all TV channels were available online.

    Nowadays, all TV channels offer their important content online, if not, you can always download it from another source or watch it elsewhere.

    Just as you can hold the remote control and switch channels, you type in a new URL and go to another page. The advantage of the internet, is that you can play by tracks, but in TV is more like an LP, which already started to change into the track-based technology with the recording feature of satellite receivers. In addition to that, you now have “Joost”, which works perfectly in my huge bandwidth! 😉

    However, as much I have been dependent on the internet, I never stopped listening to the Radio.

    It is purely a “push” media, but luckily doesn’t have the glue effect that would make you numb. You would still be able to do other things, and enjoy the free ride, which is why I didn’t get into Pod Casts that require your full attention.

    Of course, I use the internet to listen to the radio.

    So, the bottom line, both “pull” and “push” medias have always been around, even before the invention of TV or the Internet. The TV at first took over the Push Media, while the internet replaced libraries and information resources, and of course communication, but with the growing bandwidth capacities, it included many Push Medias like TV and Radio. TV is going the same direction trying to become like the internet, but at a slower pace.

  4. Neither is important, neither is reliable, neither is trusting. Both can deliever wrong information, and both have the great ability of distorting information. Just look at how the West view Islam and Muslims. They think the religion is all about killing. The thing is, TV an Interent is easily accessed and more so now than ever to everyone from all ages and backgrounds.

    If you are looking for knowledge – the book is the place to get it from.
    Books in general are better than anything else.

    When it comes to TV or Internet, I mainly use it for the source of entertainment e.g. reality TV shows, Mision Fashion, Star Acadmey, X-Factor and Films. It’s just entertainment. You don’t gain much out of it, apart from inspiration. But books can provide inspiration, knowledge and more.

    This is a very interesting issue.

  5. Hi Marwen, MY name is Iman and I am working for a famous international paper. I will be glad if you give permission to use some of your English articles in our paper. In case you accept, please send a mail to

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