Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Medium is Oxygen

After geo-tagging 34,000 notable stories for a project to create a cartography of media coverage, it is hard not to notice who’s stories are missing.

Story vein - Greenwich Village 

Stories documented are largely due to coverage in history books, music, film, media, art and literature.

The the older the vault, the more male it gets. The newer the vault, the more ethnocentric it gets. The latter sounds strange to say in the modern era after a Civil War and Civil Rights movement.

But documentation  is straight math.

The roots of the modern web were in Silicon Valley. Organically, the internet started off in the English-language in population. 

"90% of the deals" to fund the internet come from Silicon Valley. 
One third of all US capital spent is on this road. 

Documents accessible online would easily be English-dominated.  The source of the content river is in Silicon Valley which mostly funds companies living within a "20 minute drive." 

Much of the world is still today without internet access. Some geographies even block/control access where political regimes want to control thoughts. So today's historians will forget much of the world.  

At least of a third of the world.

* * *

A bright coder recently had a conversation with me to build a history browser. His passion was to focus on First Nations stories. Having covered First Nations communities as a journalist, what he said resonated with me. I was also questioning media holes - virtual gaps in which people forget a big part of the world exists. 

But I'd also known First Nations communities have been  rich in oral tradition and less adoptive of technological innovation for story-telling. 

There’s a reason too.

The "magic" of Haida Gwaii cannot be chronicled in documented form 

First Nations  chronicles are very spiritual in nature and pass from generation to generation. Communities must keep close and stay tight knit for these stories to pass from one person to another. The stories truly become part of who you are.

People are even named after stories.  

* * *

By comparison, media cultures have very little retention of documented stories.  Media dissipates every story for the next new story.

The stories are all over the map. 

It would be hard to retain a body of documented work from one generation to another, let alone any  spirituality.  

Old media stories we read are “not us.” 

There's a detachment from stories when about someone else.

New media stories are reversed. They are about  "my profile" and "myspace." 

The New World of media is structured to be self-centered.

* * *

Stories in new media are also becoming rapidly transient and disposable.

Even the apps to create media have become disposable 

Hard copies were harder to throw away.

Today social media makes a story last less than a day - 18 mins on average per tweet.  It has made many question – what is to become of us.

In fact, more time is spent on social media than making life happen. More time is spent creating social media, than the time it lasts as social media. 

Additionally, social media users as a whole spend more time chronicling the chronicle rather than creating original work.

If the medium was the message before. Today the medium is oxygen.   More breaths are spent on social media than on anything else.

* * *

Flavourful pills - we think

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