"One can spend a lot of time defining a medium in terms of how it looks, what it transmits, wavelengths used, typographic choices made, bandwidth available. I like to think about media in terms of questions answered.
Here's one question: “I'm bored, and I want to get out of the house and have an experience, possibly involving elves or bombs. Where do I go?” The answer: You could go to a movie. Here's another: “How do I distract myself without leaving the house?” You might turn on the TV. “I'm driving, or making dinner. How do I make a mundane thing like that more interesting?”
Radio! Especially NPR or talk radio.
“What's going on locally and in the world, at length?”
Try this newspaper!
A medium has a niche. A sitcom works better on TV than in a newspaper, but a 10,000 word investigative piece about a civic issue works better in a newspaper.
When it arrived the web seemed to fill all of those niches at once. The web was surprisingly good at emulating a TV, a newspaper, a book, or a radio. Which meant that people expected it to answer the questions of each medium, and with the promise of advertising revenue as incentive, web developers set out to provide those answers. As a result, people in the newspaper industry saw the web as a newspaper. People in TV saw the web as TV, and people in book publishing saw it as a weird kind of potential book. But the web is not just some kind of magic all-absorbing meta-medium. It's its own thing."
This reminded me of the novel 'Riddley Walker' by Russell Hoban, written in 1979. Here's the opening paragraph -
"On my naming day when I come 12 I gone front spear and kilt a wyld boar he parbly ben the las wyld pig on the Bundel Down any how there hadnt ben none for a long time befor him nor I aint looking to see none agen. He dint make the groun shake nor nothing like that when he come on to my spear he wernt all that big plus he lookit poorly. He done the reqwyrt he ternt and stood and clattert his teef and made his rush and there we were then. Him on 1 end of the spear kicking his life out and me on the other end watching him dy. I said, "Your tern now my tern later."
A year after the launch of the iPad, I find it fascinating that someone felt that getting iPad magazine subscriptions "right" was even a story, never mind that bold headline. It is effectively a non-story. The real story is how media publishers were duped into thinking that the iPad would save their businesses, how Steve Jobs pulled the wool over their eyes. After years of being trapped in the pricing cliché, the one that says magazine subscriptions should be at least 50% less than the newsstand price, media publishers thought they could pull the wool over our eyes. Wrong.
"The shortcomings of social media would not bother me awfully if I did not suspect that Facebook friendship and Twitter chatter are displacing real rapport and real conversation, just as Gutenberg’s device displaced remembering. The things we may be unlearning, tweet by tweet — complexity, acuity, patience, wisdom, intimacy — are things that matter. … Then along came the Mark Zuckerberg of his day, Johannes Gutenberg. As we became accustomed to relying on the printed page, the work of remembering gradually fell into disuse." - Bill Keller, former Executive Editor, NY Times."
But this comparison between Gutenberg and Zuckerberg makes little sense unless you realize that Keller is actually trying to complain about the reemergence of oral psychodynamics in the public sphere rather than about memory falling out of favor. If the latter were the case, his ire would be more about Google; instead, most of his frustration is directed against social media, and mostly Twitter, the most conversational, and thus most oral of these mediums." - Zeynep Tufekci, assistant professor of sociology at University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
Breathtaking media abundance lives side by side with serious shortages in reporting,” it said. “Communities benefit tremendously from many innovations brought by the Internet and simultaneously suffer from the dislocations caused by the seismic changes in media markets. Because those newspapers serve as tip sheets for local television reporters and for reporters on the national level, the cutbacks have had “ripple effects throughout the whole media system,” Mr. Waldman said."
More research is required into what is actually happening, I think. For instance, where does the idea of Twitter as oral history fit in? Andy Carvin a senior strategist at NPR tweeted this about Twitter recently - @BethOpal have tried to come up with various names for it, but journalism, oral history and storytelling still sum it up the best.
"For instance: “The Hangover Part II,” which I find boring, raked in $137.4 million over the five-day Memorial Day weekend. It’s the kind of boring that makes money, partly because it’s the boring that many people like, want to like, insist on liking or are just used to, and partly because it’s the sort of aggressively packaged boring you can’t escape, having opened on an estimated 17 percent of American screens. Filled with gags and characters recycled from the first “Hangover,” the sequel is grindingly repetitive and features scene after similar scene of characters staring at one another stupidly, flailing about wildly and asking what happened. This is the boring that Andy Warhol, who liked boring, found, well, boring.
“Of course, what I think is boring,” Warhol wrote in his memoir “Popism,” “must not be the same as what other people think is, since I could never stand to watch all the most popular action shows on TV, because they’re essentially the same plots and the same shots and the same cuts over and over again. Apparently, most people love watching the same basic thing, as long as the details are different.”
Personally I love slow and meditative.