Friday, February 12, 2010

A digital new world

As an introduction to how media content is evolving, I will begin by looking at the effects of technology on our own lives. Are there any dangers in this brave new world?

Jack made me do it.

In our lively Linkedin discussion, each time I would point out a certain feature which I feel needs to be addressed to get "newspapers out of the mess they're in", Jack would quickly respond that if we delivered good content, the rest would fall into place...

I think the best way to introduce ourselves into the vast subject of content, is to take a peek at how technology is affecting us all today. Douglas Rushkoff's Frontline digital nation (90 minute) presentation is an excellent starting point.

It feels like we're taking-off on our first flight to a Ray Kurzweil world, where changes accelerate at a breathtaking pace, forcing us all to desperately adapt to survive the turmoil of information overload.

On the positive side, technology's attractiveness is helping to raise students' levels at under-performing schools. On the negative, it's distracting, it's addictive, and multitasking dumb the contemplative, and highly focused endeavors.

We, the immigrants to this digital new world, also learn that our young natives will not read more than 200 pages, nor concentrate for more than a snippet at a time, a paragraph, then they're off to their facebook, e-mail... And, that the not for long natives, in the ever evolving turmoil, have no need to memorize since they can find anything at fingertip reach.


This evokes Ray Bradbury's science fiction novel Fahrenheit 451. Bradbury stated that his novel was not about censorship, but a story of how television destroys interest in reading literature, leading to a replacement of knowledge with "factoids", partial information devoid of context.

As in Bradbury's book burning dystopia, we are not only dumbing ourselves down, but we have also allowed search companies —the Orwellian big brother— to watch over (and record) all we do. We have let them stand between our work and our clients, through the aggregation of all sorts of information, as in the case of newspapers and news aggregators.

Let me repeat. We're dumbing our kids down... We've allowed the search companies to have our precious personal information, and... they're becoming the intermediaries distancing ourselves from our clients, or readers.

Am I getting too paranoid?

Do the exercise yourselves with the Google phone number giveaway. Ask yourselves: who will control the telephone business, if Google is successful with their feature-laden numbers?

Will a doctor or plumber suffer too, if he is not listed in the directory which everyone will be carrying in their pockets?

I'll be back soon with more... free content.

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