As has been stated by many, the presence Internet technology has moved the position of the consumer from that of a sedentary mass that waits to be fed to an active, mobile pursuer that has the ability find the best price, look for niche products, and choose what he or she wants to consume. This consumption takes on many forms; from media, news, music, podcasts to physical items such as books, clothing, heating oil, and groceries.
Having been born in 1968, I have been able to witness, and participate in the evolution of the mass communications medium. I remember when there was no cable. We had a huge antenna on the roof that you controlled by a little box that would rotate the antenna to find a better signal. I don’t think we got more than eight channels. Eventually late 1970’s, I think I lived in an early adoption zone, we got cable TV. We watched Frank Zappa in concert on Halloween on early MTV. Back when there were VJ’s and MTV had enormous hour long dead air breaks where they would show images of nature. I guess there just wasn’t enough content back then. Imagine that there weren’t enough videos to fill an entire day with programming, or enough sponsors to fill in the blanks with advertising. Now there is so much advertising that MTV doesn’t even show videos anymore.
Back in the good old days we were limited in our sources of information. We got the New York Times, and the local daily papers. We had local radio, but there was no national syndication of programs like Rush Limbaugh, or Howard Stern (I know he’s on satellite now).
Things were more provincial or local. I don’t know if that was bad, good, better or worse, but it was much more difficult for the consumer to explore, to find other opinions, to get to the botom of issues, to search for the “truth.”
Today just the opposite is true. We have at our finger tips access to news, music, opinion, print, video, audio, podcasts, newspapers, editorials, films, radio, sports, etc… You want it, you got it, and usually it doesn’t cost a thing. We have been given a greater opportunity to choose, and along with this power of choice, comes the obligation of wading through the quagmire to find that which interests us, that which we didn’t know interested us, and that which is pure bunk. There is more crap being passed off as content than ever before, so with this choice has its price.
How I Choose to Choose
I think that the new media age is far superior to the old, and I would not wish it to be any other way. I begin each day listening to WFAN and NPR as I drive to the office. I sit down with a cup of coffee, and check the Drudge Report, several RSS feeds, on multiple topics I aggregate, tune in to either a POD cast, or a live radio stream from a Talk Radio show or sport show, or fire up some classical or ambient music feeds from I tunes. All of this being done in the background while I answer emails, IM people, and work.
I try to get opinions and angles from multiple sources; right wing, left wing, center to form what I think is an educated opinion. I don’t know that I am right on every topic, in fact I am pretty certain that I am wrong on several things, but I do know that if I don’t understand it I can hit Wikipedia and begin my exploration of the subject. I can download a podcast and get several opinions, and begin to form my opinion.
We all have these resources at our finger tips, so I think we have an obligation to seek out information on the issues of the day. I hope the days of voting a party line are waining. I would like to see evolve from the sound byte society we have become. It shouldn’t be too hard, it only takes a few minutes a day and an Internet connection. I think most of us have that.