Ok, you can take your mind out of the gutter.
I’m talking information here. I really don’t know what you might have been thinking.
You’ve probably heard the term information overload. It’s not new, it’s been bandied around for some time. I feel it’s a two-sided sword. Before the Internet (yes, I am old enough to remember that), we got our most of our information about the world around us from a one-way stream. The media then was the press, and the broadcast networks for the most part. There was little opportunity to interact. We got a dose or two of TV news each day, a newspaper each morning, and perhaps a news summary from the radio during the day too, depending where we worked.
Now there is so much information being barrelled at us from many directions, that we have to set up filters, to decide what we want to watch. 24 hour TV news, Internet news whenever we want it from multiple sources.
It’s probably true that back then, more of us were more inclined to trust what we read, heard, and saw. That’s not saying we we more stupid, it’s just that previous generations by and large, simply had more trust in those organizations. We didn’t question their authority.
Along comes the Internet and other online networks (well there used to be others!), and we’re given the ability to both write our own news, and publish our own information, and also question what we’re told.
There is no doubt in my mind, that this has reduced the power of the old school media, much as the power of the medieval church was reduced after Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press in 1440, and the peasantry gradually got access to books and learned to read for themselves.
It’s the 21st century equivalent of what is happening now, as more and more people get online and get access to the wonderful new two-way media stream we have now.
However the point of this article is really to ask a question.
Most people can read, most folks can hear, and most folks can see.
Online video is in the verge of a major revolution. The bandwidth bottlenecks need to be truly unblocked, not by restricting use, but by making a bigger pipe (or bigger series of tubes as former Alaskan Senator Ted Stevens analogously referred to the Internet as, back in June 2006).
Podcasting is already commonplace to a sizable few.
Most of us online still read the printed word on a computer monitor, such as this article you’re reading right now.
My question is this: Which way do you prefer to get information? Video? Audio, or typed word?
I know one answer will be that it depends on the information type. This is true of course. It’s not nearly so much fun to read about or listen to a commentary about a ball game as it is to watch it.
On the other hand do we really need to watch most of the evening news? Most of us like to see the disaster stuff – plane crashes, fires, big auto wrecks etc (although we only want to see it from a ‘safe’ distance – we don’t want to see the real blood and gore). However, much of the TV news could just as easily be read or listened to, and a good commentator can vividly describe a scene almost as well as you actually seeing it.
My own take is that we’ll move forward with a combination of all three. Once we can truly ‘turn on’ the Internet in the same way that we do the TV now, then the Internet in the home, and indeed in the living room, will become as common place as the TV is today – to the point where most folks consider you odd if you don’t have one.
It’s an exciting interactive future to look forward to, but we’ve all got our own take on what we want it to be like. Those of us that are already online have the chance that our forefathers didn’t really have, at least not en masse – that is to be able to participate like never before, in helping to shape what we want the media future to be.
Tags: alaskan senator, bandwidth bottlenecks, broadcast networks, doubt in my mind, generations, gutenberg, gutter, information overload, media stream, medieval church, no doubt, old school, own news, peasantry, podcasting, printing press, senator ted stevens, series of tubes, ted stevens, verge