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Thursday, April 21, 2005

 

A 2-parter

Part the First: Ridiculousness

Two examples of ridiculousness from the past few days:

1. Last night one of my improv classmates described how her boss likes to act out certain sports, for no good reason. She'll just stand in front of my friend's desk and pretend to swing a golf club or pitch a baseball, sometimes silently, sometimes while making mindless chitchat - "Didja see that email?" (swoosh). I joked that next time my friend should pretend to catch the ball and toss it back, and see what happens.

2. I'm planning a bridal shower with a few other women, and earlier in the week we sent out an evite. One of the guests was apparently insulted that we didn't invite her mother, so on the evite, she replied that she'd be attending "with pleasure - plus 1, my mom." As if this were a kegger. Note, I had turned off the "allow guests to invite other guests" feature, so she just wrote this into her reply. I joked to the bride that she should get more of her friends to write in that they would also be bringing their moms.

Part the Second: Changing Media (More Ridiculousness?)

On another note entirely, yesterday I finally started reading a report I've had in my "to read" pile at work for a while, "The Future of Independent Media" from the Global Business Network, and want to recommend it to anyone interested in independent media (you can find it here).

I haven't finished it but, building on my Tivo comment of the other day, I find it fascinating to think what our society and culture will be like as more and more content is more and more accessible, and there are more choices than anyone has time to make...will this actually have a de-democratizing effect, where only the wealthy have enough leisure time to actually sort through media and leverage choice? It certainly makes you think that the people and companies who can prove themselves expert at helping you sort through it all will be valuable, but that sorting won't happen in the same way it did in the past - it won't be Tom Brokaw saying, "here's today's news," it will be someone saying "here's what I think is important today"...the differences being an implicit recognition of subjectivity, and, once again, greater choice... more choice than Tom, Peter or Dan.

I can't tell if the media landscape is getting more or less ridiculous. The liberal in me finds it hard to think that less choice is better, but the conservative in me worries about all the noise... ultimately the idealist in me hopes that from the sea of choices, from the noise, the potential for new meaning and understanding will arise....but the pessimist in me worries that we'll just be a fractured culture full of individuals whose news diet morphs into the "Daily Me" that Nicholas Negroponte predicted back in the 90s. A quick Google search of "daily me" led me to this blog posting from late last year, and maybe its author is right - maybe two categories of media will coexist, more traditional sources (newspapers, etc) side by side with an ever-more-thriving category of citizen-driven, bottom-up media. Maybe it's not either/or.

But when today's teenagers and kids are adults, will they really value the traditional sources? More importantly - will they use them? I value Frontline, and I Tivo it, but I rarely watch; I watch the Daily Show more often. (Don't you love it when you feed right into your demographic profile?)

To be continued...

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