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Unclear Description: Older Than Television get usage counts

The Older than Television index has a problem in its definition: the upper and lower cutoffs for what to include are entire decades, making it fuzzy and unclear what belongs here, what belongs in Older Than Radio, and what goes under the Classic TV heading in The Oldest Ones in the Book. Likewise, Older Than Radio (I can't tag both) includes the 1890s in its description.

All the other sub-indicies in there have single years for their cutoff dates, making if clear what does and doesn't belong on each index. But "1890's" and "1940's" are too broad, and confusing. The 1890s are listed on both Older Than Radio and Older than Television, so on which index does a trope from that decade belong? Do tropes from the 1940s belong on Older than Television, or not?

As pointed out in a previous thread about this ( ), this has resulted in Older than Television and Older Than Radio doubling up examples (I've cleared out the doubles now, I think) and having some entries on Older Than Radio being more recent than some on Older Than TV, though feotakahari cleaned those up a while ago.

I think that the lower and upper cutoffs for Older Than TV should both be single years. It would be a simple change, and I volunteer to fix the wicks and examples. It doesn't really matter to me what years are picked — my suggestion, to be consistent with Older Than Print and Older Than Steam, is to go by when radio and television each became widespread media used for broadcast and works, not by when they were actually invented. The end years of WWI and WWII (1945), respectively, have been suggested previously as being good cutoffs at the start of widespread broadcasts, that also marked important cultural and historical changes (much as Older Than Feudalism ends at the fall of Rome).

I did a wick check of the two indexes and can post that, in case that's required, but since the problem is an unclear description I'm not sure this is relevant.

Quotes of previous discussion:

     Splitting The Oldest Ones In The Book discussion 
Note: "Early Modern" was the early name for Older than Television.
Dark Sasami: ... Not sure where you divide what you have as Early Modern and Classic TV though.

Morgan Wick: Probably right around the end of World War II. Television as a technology is as old as radio is as a mass media, but it was mostly an experiment in the labs of the Radio Corporation of America (which then owned the NBC radio network) and at CBS. It hadn't really reached mass market proportions by the time World War II came around, at which point, since it doesn't really have much field military application, it was mostly forgotten. At the end of the war, though, there were a whole bunch of G Is returning home with a whole lot of disposable income that were willing to try all sorts of newfangled technologies (like rich teenagers with disposable income who spend it on iPods and cell phones and make them into integral parts of our culture), and all the factories were already busy producing weapons and fighters the country didn't need anymore. As a result, television boomed; by around 1948 the FCC halted all licences for television stations because they couldn't keep up with the demand.

Robert: 1945 is about right, but with some fuzziness. Mostly, this will be for tropes from 50's TV, those originated by I Love Lucy and its peers.

Damian Yerrick: I'd say 1923 because that's the cutoff date in the United States for the difference between public domain status and perpetual copyright on the installment plan.

Silent Hunter later suggested that "pre-TV" would be "1926 or thereabouts."

Arcades Sabboth: Older Than Radio and Older than Television would benefit from specific cutoff years, because people did not stop inventing tropes during the vaguely-identified "1890s" and "1940s." I suggest changing the television cutoff to 1939 or 1945. The radio cutoff could be 1900 or 1914 or 1918.

     Ask The Tropers archive 
Cryptic Mirror: What is the cut off date on Older Than Radio, the discussion page gives 1888 but many page examples are younger? The Other Wiki gives the first "As we know it" broadcast being 1906, should we be using that? It'd help to have a firm date on that page. Sorry if this is in the wrong place, I wasn't sure where to put it. The Laconic entry gives WW1, but that seems a bit late.

Micah: WW1 is actually pretty good if you're talking about radio as a standard broadcast medium, rather than as a technology, and it's a convenient dividing line historically.

Madrugada: I would agree with Micah. Up to WWI, radio was technologically possible, but wasn't really a public medium.

Cryptic Mirror: If we are going for WW1 as the cut off then it needs added to the trope page and a clean up on Older Than Radio and Older Than TV as some stuff on the latter would be moved to the former. Do we have a consensus to do that?

Madrugada: I'm good with that.

Most recent thread about this (by feotakahari):

edited 6th Sep '12 1:58:52 PM by ArcadesSabboth

Oppression anywhere is a threat to democracy everywhere.
Seems like you're overthinking this.
Rhymes with "Protracted."
Um... can you please explain/elaborate why you think the description is not ambiguous?

Or why it should be significantly different from all the other Oldest Ones in the Book indicies?

By the way, Older Than Radio states that radio was invented in the 1890s. Which means that all of the examples from that decade probably don't belong there.

edited 6th Sep '12 2:06:48 PM by ArcadesSabboth

Oppression anywhere is a threat to democracy everywhere.
Because exact years aren't what's important. You can't normally nail down an exact year a trope was born anyway. The issue is that some tropes were born in the television medium. They don't belong here, wether they first appeared in 1930s TV (which we have little record of) or 1980s.
Then why doesn't the description say that?

And considering the criteria for appearing on any one of The Oldest Ones in the Book pages is a single work being shown to use it, I think that yes, you can nail down the exact year a trope was born, at least for the purposes of those pages, and at least for something as recent as Older than Television.

edited 7th Sep '12 1:13:29 AM by MorganWick

Older Than Dirt, Older Than Feudalism, Older Than Print, Older Than Steam, and The Oldest Ones in the Book are all defined by exact years, so that makes Older Than Radio and Older than Television inconsistent with the rest.

And if the ambiguity is preferred, that still doesn't tell me what does and doesn't belong on these indicies when I go to clean their wicks. Do 1890s belong on Older Than Radio or Older than Television? Right now, I can't tell. (It would be easy enough to say the 1890s belong in Older Than Radio, making 1901 the lower cutoff year.)

As Morgan Wick said, these indicies are lists of tropes appearing in works known to date to a specific historical period. They are not about what medium a work came from, except that certain indicies could have dates that exclude certain media entirely. A radio show from the 1950s, for example, doesn't belong on Older than Television just because it's not TV. The terms Older Than Print, Older Than Radio, and Older than Television were chosen for 3 sub-indicies when The Oldest Ones in the Book was broken up, to identify major historical changes in the way works and tropes were transmitted, but as far as I know there wasn't an intention to make the indicies media-defined rather than time-defined note . And the 1980s are already excluded from the super-index (The Oldest Ones in the Book) which stops at the exact year 1960.

If there were regular broadcasts and actual TV shows in the 1930s, then that's a good argument for excluding the 1930s (let alone the 1940s!) from Older than Television, and changing the definition — not for leaving it as it is now.

edited 7th Sep '12 8:51:42 AM by ArcadesSabboth

Oppression anywhere is a threat to democracy everywhere.
World's Toughest Milkman
I think it makes the most sense to tie it to the use of the medium for fiction. In other words, Older Than Radio should refer to the time before the first radio show. Not before the first time a morse-code message was sent by radio. Families didn't gather around the radio to listen to "dah-dit dah-dah-dah dit-dah-dah..." :)
"Existential Despair" is an oxymoron.
Media-specific indices would really have to be wholly different indices. The medium a trope emerged in doesn't automatically tell you how old a trope is, because a medium can continue to spawn tropes even when newer media are already around. For example, tropes continued to emerge in literature even after radio and TV were already around. We also don't have a separate cut-off for film, which is a pretty important medium which obviously created a lot of new tropes.

According to Wikipedia's article on Old-time radio, 1920 was the year when the first radio news program was broadcast and the first commercial radio station in the USA was established. The first regular entertainment programs (in the USA, I gather) were broadcast in 1922. The first radio play was broadcast in 1921.

It seems to me 1920 is the most sensible cut-off date (though you could also argue for 1921 or 1922). Radio may have been invented in the 1890s, but for almost thirty years it was only used as a 'wireless telegraph', not as a mass medium.
It's perfectly possible to admire building a cannon to destroy the moon, whilst lamenting the act of destruction.
Film has similar problems nailing down a date. The tech was invented sometime between 1872 and 1882, depending on how you define a movie and the oldest surviving film is from 1888. Narrative fiction, as opposed to actualities, seems to have started about 1898 and what we current thonk of as a feature didn't develop until the 19 teens. This is probably why we don't have a category based on "older than film."
World's Toughest Milkman
1920 works for me, for radio. Round numbers are good. Can we do the same for television?
"Existential Despair" is an oxymoron.
[up]By that standard, tropes developed in film, like Pie in the Face would be Older Than Film. I can see similar things happening to television.
Do we have any tropes created by radio which are older than 1920?
It's perfectly possible to admire building a cannon to destroy the moon, whilst lamenting the act of destruction.
World's Toughest Milkman
[up][up] Pie in the Face is older than film—it comes from vaudeville, which is much older than film. And how is "as old as the earliest fictional works that use the medium" a bad standard, exactly? (1920 is actually a year earlier than it needs to be. Did you miss the part where I said "for radio"?)

edited 8th Sep '12 4:25:40 AM by Xtifr

"Existential Despair" is an oxymoron.
[up]Yes, I did.
So do we agree on 1920 as cut-off date for Older Than Radio?

Unfortunately, after reading up on the other wiki, the date for TV becoming a mass medium isn't nearly as clear.
It's perfectly possible to admire building a cannon to destroy the moon, whilst lamenting the act of destruction.
1920 is fine with me; I don't have any strong opinion of where a cutoff should be.

But television seems harder ... According to the other wiki there were apparently regularly broadcast shows already in 1936, a live one-act play broadcast in 1928, and one of the first TV shows aired in 1931. But 1920-1928 or 1920-1936 would make for a pathetically short index.

Apparently the shows in the 1930s could not be recorded, so there are only still photographs remaining of them (apparently scripts weren't kept either). I don't know if that's significant.

edited 9th Sep '12 5:41:16 PM by ArcadesSabboth

Oppression anywhere is a threat to democracy everywhere.
Except Classic TV, which is just a sub-heading in The Oldest Ones in the Book. I don't know why that's limited to just TV sources, but it is. It's the only Oldest Ones in the Book section to do that, and consequently it has.... ONE (1) trope.
That's because The Oldest Ones in the Book is so old (heh) that its oldest Internet Archive incarnation is nearly as old as any incarnation of the Home Page in the Archive. As such, it's a relic of the original incarnation of the page, and thus of when we were still TV Tropes.

If there were regular broadcasts and actual TV shows in the 1930s, then that's a good argument for excluding the 1930s (let alone the 1940s!) from Older Than Television, and changing the definition not for leaving it as it is now.
I stand by my "end of World War II" suggestion from way back when. (Worth noting that a 1920 cutoff for Older Than Radio is pretty close to the end of World War I.) To my knowledge, the 1939 World's Fair accounts for a hefty chunk of all TV broadcasts from the decade, at least in America. Per The Other Wiki, America didn't even have standards for broadcast transmission, or ads, until 1941; before 1931, the only "publicly announced" television broadcasts anywhere were something called mechanical television.

Besides the lack of any knowledge of what tropes any fictional works before World War II contained, I suspect it's highly unlikely that any works from that period were in any way remarkable or trope-creating, or even original.

edited 14th Sep '12 3:01:55 AM by MorganWick

Collecting all suggestions:

lower cutoff: Older than Television (first included year) vs. Older Than Radio
  • 1890s (keep current cutoff) (decade shared with Older than Television?)
  • 1890 or 1891 (put all 1890s in Older than Television)
  • 1900 or 1901 (put all 1890s in Older Than Radio)
  • 1888 (from discussion page)
  • 1906 (first radio "as we know it" broadcast)
  • 1918 (end of WWI, start of radio as entertainment medium)
  • 1920 (first radio news program)
  • 1921 (first radio play)
  • 1922 (first regular radio entertainment programs (at least in the USA))

upper cutoff: Older than Television (first excluded year) vs. Classic TV
  • 1940s (keep current cutoff)
  • 1950 or 1951 (put all 1940s in Older than Television)
  • 1940 or 1941 (exclude all 1940s from Older than Television)
  • 1923 (the difference between public domain status and perpetual copyright on the installment plan)
  • 1926 ("mechanical television")
  • 1928 (first one-act play on TV) (no recordings exist)
  • 1931 (earliest regular TV show broadcast) (no recordings exist)
  • 1936 (early regular TV shows) (no recordings exist)
  • 1941 (first USA standards for broadcast transmission)
  • 1945 (end of WWII, boom in TV entertainment broadcasts)

edited 16th Sep '12 11:29:06 AM by ArcadesSabboth

Oppression anywhere is a threat to democracy everywhere.
I don't understand this rationale some people are reaching about tropes developed through radio or television as belonging on an index for things that are older than than either device. If a trope wasn't developed until television was invented, then that trope clearly is not Older than Television and has no business on index that serves no purpose but to document tropes by a particular age group. Any tropes established through the invention that gives us a cutoff date obviously missed that cutoff and would not belong on a list of things that are older than they are.

And how is "as old as the earliest fictional works that use the medium" a bad standard, exactly?

I don't know, should the new cutoff for Older Than Steam then be "as old as the earliest fictional works that use a steam engine"? And again, the fundamental aim of all these indexes, as the titles suggest, is to document tropes that established themselves before the things named in the index title—not tropes that are the same age as them or became established because of them.

Older Than Steam collects tropes that were established before the steam engine (and would, therefore, be older than it). As follows, Older Than Radio and Older than Television collect tropes that were established before radio and television, respectively.

Tropes that were established through the invention of the radio are not themselves Older Than Radio; they clearly came after the radio was already invented and, therefore, are younger than radio. Tropes established through radio circa 1920 would, in fact, be Older than Television—not the radio that already existed before the tropes first established themselves.

edited 16th Sep '12 12:52:54 PM by SeanMurrayI

World's Toughest Milkman
Really, the whole thing is arbitrary and a bit silly. I'm almost tempted to suggest that we make the whole collection of pages Just for Fun. People normally classify things by date (year, decade or century).
"Existential Despair" is an oxymoron.
[up]We can place an exact year for the invention of the radio (1897), so that one isn't all that arbitrary.

"Television" is a little fuzzier because there have been several electronic television sets (both prototypes and commercial) already invented well before the estimated 1940 cutoff. The only significant innovation from around that time, that I can think of, which I can easily pin to an exact year would be the first nuclear bomb, first detonated in July 1945. Rename Older Than Nukes, Older Than The Bomb, perhaps?

edited 16th Sep '12 3:00:22 PM by SeanMurrayI

@Sean Murray: I'm pretty sure Arcades Sabboth wanted to type "Older Than Steam vs. Older Than Radio", as opposed to "Older than Television vs. Older Than Radio", at the top of his post. I think this is causing some confusion at the moment.

People normally classify things by date

Exactly, that's why we should just fix a date.

I'm inclined to follow Morgan Wick in that 1945 makes a good cut-off date for convenience.

On the other hand, there was pre-war TV. There were at least two [[ American proto-soap operas in the 1930s]], although there are probably no recordings.

The oldest TV series for which Wikipedia has a page is from 1944 (there are no recordings either).
It's perfectly possible to admire building a cannon to destroy the moon, whilst lamenting the act of destruction.
[up] [up] Not bad idea. The end of World War II definitely marked a big change to society. If we're going to classify tropes according to the part of human history they originated, then we have to take on accound such an event that marked humanity.

edited 16th Sep '12 3:21:40 PM by morenohijazo

Another thought for consideration: If we want to avoid moving the 1890s cut-off to 1920 because of category size balance, then we might consider renaming Older Than Radio into Older Than Film. Film developed in the 1890s.
It's perfectly possible to admire building a cannon to destroy the moon, whilst lamenting the act of destruction.
[up]Why? Radio was invented in 1897 so we wouldn't have to move the cutoff, anyway.

edited 16th Sep '12 4:03:36 PM by SeanMurrayI

Page Action: Older Than Television
15th Oct '12 9:22:21 PM
What would be the best way to fix the page?
At issue:
Currently, Older Than Television's cut-offs are somewhat vague and inconsistent. Older Than Radio ends in the 1890s (the invention of radio technology) while Older Than Television ends in the 1940s (about when television became a mass medium for fiction, years after its invention).

Is this inconsistency a problem? Should the time period for Older Than Television change? Suggestions for new dates are collected here.

Note: Not all crowner options below are mutually exclusive.
Total posts: 75
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