A New Media Report On Our Digital & Economic Health

Today’s media world is overwhelming and is often full of bad news. However, “news” has always been “bad” or at least alarming. The availability of “news” and social contacts online or via mobile devices entices many to devote every waking moment to monitoring the digital traffic on their glowing screens. 

Consider these numbers:

  • Google estimates there are over a trillion web pages
  • Facebook has more than 600 million users
  • Tweets on Twitter are countless.  

Those of a certain age might consider taking refuge from this media blitz by adhering to the lyrics of two songs from the last century:

  • “I get all the news I need on the weather report” Simon & Garfunkel: The Only Living Boy In New York
  • “You don’t need a weather man to know which way the wind blows.” Bob Dylan: Subterranean Homesick Blues

Frankly, “I do declare, there were (are) times…I took (take) some comfort there” (in) these lyrics*

It is tempting to adopt the nihilist approach when it comes to the digital media information glut: “All lies and jest, still a man hears what he wants to hear And disregards the rest…”*

I, however, offer a simple way out of the media information ocean to an island of sweet clarity in this brief economic report consisting of two photographs and minimal text…

BAD NEWS

In Petaluma, as elsewhere in the nation, the price of gas is depressingly high…

GOOD NEWS

Petaluma has certain characteristics that soften the blow of the high cost of fuel. It is still possible to clean your clothes and get a drink in one stop!

A very efficient use of your expensive gasoline…and an excellent way to forget about your troubles…

Wash your undies and have a martini!

Don’t forget to remove your clothes from the dryer before you leave!

* Simon & Garfunkel: The Boxer

2011…Time for a new route or an old rut?

The end of a year is a time for reflection and so it is that I find myself ruminating over the keyboard during this last week of 2010…

“We know what we are, but we know not what we may become”- William Shakespeare

I have no great words of wisdom or forecasts for 2011 except to note that the Gales of Change will continue to blow in 2011. At a minimum, we can expect further disruptions in the economy, government budgets, and the general well-being of society.

In short:

  • It is more than likely that 2011 will not be a good year.
  • We will be fortunate if it is no worse than 2010.

The above notwithstanding, I offer two futuristic observations on our digital communications media world in the coming year(s).

__________________

I.

The almost relentless drive to digitize all forms of consumer media will accelerate in 2011

DVD’s and CD’s will be harder to find as they are replaced by downloads and on demand services. The pressure to buy e-books, to watch movies online, and to consume music by download will continue.

Large scale Sunday newspapers may soon disappear…

Eventually, everything will be available online–exclusively–for consumption on an electronic device…

  • Digital downloads will generate a tremendous savings in resources previously dedicated to producing and distributing consumer books, recordings, magazines, newspapers, DVD movies, etc.
  • Homes will no longer be cluttered with books, magazines, photo albums, and recordings.  They will be available online and on demand…for a fee of course.
  • Public & private libraries will no longer be necessary in an online digital world.
  • Book stores, like the Dodo, will become extinct.
  • Book signings will be replaced by Facebook entries & Twitter Tweets.

Eventually, all human generated content and information–writings, books, film, photos, government records, business records, personal records, and archives–will be stored in a central computer cloud…and accessed through a wireless umbilical cord.

Of course, there is one question…

http://tracking.technodesignip.com/?action=count&projectid=642&contentid=6558&referrer=-&urlaction=r...LightningWho will control the cloud?Storm cloudhttp://tracking.technodesignip.com/?action=count&projectid=642&contentid=6558&referrer=-&urlaction=r...

http://tracking.technodesignip.com/?action=count&projectid=642&contentid=6508&referrer=-&urlaction=r...Just asking…http://tracking.technodesignip.com/?action=count&projectid=642&contentid=6508&referrer=-&urlaction=r...

II.

To Tweet or not to Tweet–That is the question: Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous Facebook fortune, Or to take arms against a sea of social media links*

Recently, I have been reflecting on two books (hard copy versions) that have stirred my little gray cells in the spirit of Agatha Christie’s Poirot. 

They are interesting contradictions, these two books…

Both can be read at several levels… 

  • The first deals with the tensions, dynamics, and strains of creating something in and for the “real” world.
  • The second describes how the “real” world is being replaced by the Virtual Internet Worldwith its infinite array of marketing, news, and social media communication channels…the latter filled to the brim with a stew of 140 character texts, digital snapshots, video clips, and banal messages–a world where constant communication is more important than content or context. It is a world we have yet begun to understand as it changes our entire media landscape…and us. ***

In musing over the information and ideas presented in these books, I asked myself two questions for 2011…

Is it time to find a new route in the new Social Media?

Perhaps…

Or…

Is it time to go back to the future and stay in the old rut?

After careful deliberation, my answer is…the old rut!

Why?

Simply put, I have no interest in contributing to the digital vapors of the new “social” media.

I find less and less reason to follow, much less take part in, a virtual world where people, for the most part, would rather commune with others on their mobile devices or computers instead of engaging in face to face encounters.  I am well aware that this is the reality of the day and it is not going to change. I do wonder if this is not one of the reasons why some decry the increasing coarseness of, and rude behavior in, society…

Could it be that we are losing our ability to interact and communicate personally because it is so much easier to do it through a surrogate electronic device?

I have always tended to pick the “road less traveled” in the spirit of Robert Frost or to cheer the underdog in conflicts and see no reason to change now.

Therefore, I will continue working in the now out of date world of 300 to 800 word blog articles written and formatted as if they were set out on a real page with large scale photo prints. While read or seen by few in the Virtual World, as they are not suited for quick consumption on handheld screens, it is the course I elect to maintain. ****

Looking ahead to 2011, my plans are to continue posting articles from time to time on such topics that may come my way–usually by way of photographs made during the month.

  • If you care to follow along in 2011, there is a free, easy e-mail subscription section in the right hand column on this page. 
  • The Photo Blog (Click Here) will also continue in 2011. As with this blog, the Photo Blog has a free subscription link if you care to follow my irregular photographic meanderings. The subscription link is at the bottom of the page

In closing, Happy New Year to one and all. It’s going to be a bumpy ride to an uncertain destination.

Strap on your seatbelt and…Fingers crossed

TEXT NOTES

  • *With apologies to Mr. Shakespeare!
  • **I strongly recommend this book to anyone who wants to get a sense of the changes in our media world in terms of how they took place and what lies ahead.  It is extremely well written and documented.
  • ***This “virtual” article is the equivalent of five 8 1/2 by 11 pages set in size 11 Georgia font. It contains 1153 words, 6,524 characters with spaces, three full-sized photographs, five emoticons, and six notes.  Obviously, it is hopelessly out of date by current Internet writing standards!
  • ****As an alternative explanation for my decision, I borrow a few words from that great philosopher from Texas, Waylon Jennings: “I’ve always been crazy and the trouble that it’s put me through…I’ve always been different with one foot over the line…I’ve always been crazy but it’s kept me from going insane.”

PHOTO NOTES

  • For those not familiar with Petaluma, the first photo is a composite of two exposures of the Clock Tower at the corner of Western Ave and Petaluma Blvd.
  • The “tunnel” photo is a triple exposure of the inside of the Waldo Tunnel approach to the Golden Gate Bridge.
  • For larger views, click on each photo.