ACT reading practice test 49

DIRECTIONS: Each passage is followed by several questions. After reading a passage, choose the best answer to each question and fill in the corresponding oval on your answer document. You may refer to the passages as often as necessary.


This passage is adapted from the essay "Why TV Lost" by Paul Graham (© 2009 Paul Graham).

Moore's Law is a principle of computer hardware engineering stating that the number of transistors on an integrated circuit will double every two years.

About twenty years ago people noticed computers and TV were on a collision course and started to speculate about what they'd produce when they converged. We now know the answer: computers. It's

5 clear now that even by using the word "convergence" we were giving TV too much credit. This won't be convergence so much as replacement. People may still watch things they call "TV shows," but they'll watch them mostly on computers.

10 What decided the contest for computers Four forces, three of which one could have predicted, and one that would have been harder to. One predictable cause of victory is that the Internet is an open platform. Anyone can build whatever they want on it, and the

15 market picks the winners. So innovation happens at hacker speeds instead of big-company speeds. The second is Moore's Law, which has worked its usual magic on Internet bandwidth. The third reason computers won is piracy. Users prefer it not just because it's free,

20 but because it's more convenient. BitTorrent and YouTube have already trained a new generation of viewers that the place to watch shows is on a computer screen.

The somewhat more surprising force was one specific

25 type of innovation: social applications. The average teenage kid has a pretty much infinite capacity for talking to their friends. But they can't physically be with them all the time. When I was in high school the solution was the telephone. Now it's social networks,

30 multiplayer games, and various messaging applications. The way you reach them all is through a computer, which means every teenage kid wants a computer with an Internet connection, has an incentive to figure out how to use it, and spends countless hours

35 in front of it.

After decades of running an IV drip right into their audience, people in the entertainment business had understandably come to think of them as rather passive. They thought they'd be able to dictate the way

40 shows reached audiences. But they underestimated the force of their desire to connect with one another. Facebook killed TV. That is wildly oversimplified, of course, but probably as close to the truth as you can get in three words.

45 The TV networks already seem, grudgingly, to see where things are going, and have responded by putting their stuff, grudgingly, online. But they're still dragging their heels. They still seem to wish people would watch shows on TV instead, just as newspapers that put

50 their stories online still seem to wish people would wait till the next morning and read them printed on paper. They should both just face the fact that the Internet is the primary medium.

They'd be in a better position if they'd done that

55 earlier. When a new medium arises that's powerful enough to make incumbents nervous, then it's probably powerful enough to win, and the best thing they can do is jump in immediately. Whether they like it or not, big changes are coming, because the Internet dissolves the

60 two cornerstones of broadcast media: synchronicity and locality. On the Internet, you don't have to send everyone the same signal, and you don't have to send it to them from a local source. People will watch what they want when they want it, and group themselves

65 according to whatever shared interest they feel most strongly. Maybe their strongest shared interest will be their physical location, but I'm guessing not-which means local TV is probably dead. It was an artifact of limitations imposed by old technology. If someone were

70 creating an Internet-based TV company from scratch now, they might have some plan for shows aimed at specific regions, but it wouldn't be a top priority.

TV networks will fight these trends, because they don't have sufficient flexibility to adapt to them.

75 They're hemmed in by local affiliates in much the same way car companies are hemmed in by dealers and unions. Inevitably, the people running the networks will take the easy route and try to keep the old model running for a couple more years, just as the record labels

80 have done.

The networks used to be gatekeepers. They distributed your work, and sold advertising on it. Now the people who produce a show can distribute it themselves. The main value networks supply now is ad sales, which

85 will tend to put them in the position of service providers rather than publishers.

Shows will change even more. On the Internet there's no reason to keep their current format, or even the fact that they have a single format. Indeed, the more

90 interesting sort of convergence that's coming is between shows and games. But on the question of what sort of entertainment gets distributed on the Internet in 20 years, I wouldn't dare to make any predictions, except that things will change a lot. We'll get whatever the

95 most imaginative people can cook up.

That's why the Internet won.

1. The passage's author most strongly implies that over time, TV's hold over its audience grew:

A. stronger, because people group themselves according to shared interests.
B. weaker, due to the effects of Moore's Law on the content of Web programming.
C. stronger, because TV shows are always changing to better reflect the times.
D. weaker, because of limitations in the medium of TV and formats of TV shows.

2. According to the passage, which of the following is NOT a predictable force that led to the supremacy of computers?

F. Facebook
G. The magic of Internet bandwidth
H. Free pirated content
J. The Internet's status as an open platform

3. As portrayed in the passage, the computer industry has benefited from the fact that teenagers are:

A. energetic and social.
B. adaptable but lazy.
C. friendly but shy.
D. trendy and easily amused.

4. In the statement in lines 64-67, the author most strongly stresses the:

F. idea that people should take more of an interest in their physical location.
G. fact that national news covers more important issues than local news.
H. fact that TV's self-image is based on the technological limitations of the past.
J. threat of local stations being outcompeted or bought up by national networks.

5. According to the passage, the reaction of TV networks to the Internet phenomenon has been to:

A. try to dissolve the cornerstones of the Internet.
B. rush to put all their content on the Internet, just as newspapers put their stories online.
C. put some of what they produce on the Web, but resist the change in spirit.
D. become hemmed in by local affiliates, in an effort to develop sufficient flexibility.

6. The passage most strongly suggests that the author sees traditional media outlets like TV and newspapers as exhibiting:

F. determined originality.
G. resentful stubbornness.
H. open hostility.
J. petulant solicitousness.

7. Lines 77-80 most nearly mean that the networks:

A. will try their best to converge with the record labels.
B. will wait for Web-based business models to make innovations and then buy them out.
C. are fighting among themselves about what their next step should be.
D. will squeeze as much life as possible out of their current business practices.

8. The passage's author characterizes the younger generation as being:

F. prohibitively ignorant of the rich histories of TV and newspapers.
G. soundly conditioned to the idea of computers meeting all their entertainment needs.
H. easily amused by culturally destructive habits like social networking.
J. unintentionally subversive of international commerce in the twenty-first century.

9. For the author, lines 68-72 mainly serve to support his earlier point that:

A. Internet writers still have fewer plans for shows than TV writers do.
B. Internet companies have done better market research than TV networks have.
C. programming aimed at specific regions is not what people really want.
D. Internet creators are true artists who have priorities other than making money.

10. Another cultural analyst discussing the relationship between TV and the Internet had this to say:

The era of appointment-to-view TV is coming to an end. It will continue to exist for the simple reason that some things-like, say, a World Cup final-are best covered using a few-to-many technology. But it will lose its dominant position in the ecosystem.

How does this account compare to that of the passage's author?

F. Both agree that sooner or later the Internet will completely replace TV.
G. Both agree that the battle between TV and the Internet will go on forever.
H. This account suggests that TV's dominance will continue, whereas the passage does not.
J. This account concedes that TV is better suited to some things, whereas the passage does not.