Thursday, August 17, 2006

Are you interested enough in the world?

Ok, so I just thought I would reiterate how in recent years technology has revolutionised the way people find out about the world (i.e. mass media).

And a related question how are you tapping into this to fuel your interests, expand your thoughts, and find out more about the world you live in.

So this is how I consume information at the moment (ranked in importance):

1. news print Internet-sites; with access to the world's newspapers (e.g. NY Times, the Guardian, the Age, etc.), I start my day by finding out what is happening in it - it is a cursory glance, 10-15 minutes at most, but provides me with an update of all news, special articles (to be read later via a tag), sports and weather.

2. blogs; unbelieveable, but blogs really provide a specific, finite focus to most individual's interests (e.g. whether it is software engineering, the environment, travel, friends, etc.). I don't believe it will be too long before RSS aggregators like Bloglines (yes it is excellent!) and blog profiles will be mainstream (maybe with the advent of Internet Explorer 7 - shudder ...)

3. email; yes still useful, but in terms of providing informational content; often too static, and more importantly I receive email involuntarily at the time the sender chooses to include me. Unlike a blog (which is read on demand, or subscription and organised implicitly), email requires some significant self-discipline / self-organisation to retain, read-at-a-later-date and process.

4. podcasts; phenomenally interesting . I am only a recent subscriber, but podcasts follow a similar paradigm to blogs: that is, an individual subscribes to informational content that he/she is interested in and then this is updated at regular intervals. Unlike blogs which are read, podcasts are listened to. So it is like choosing the favourite audio snippets of a day's tv / radio show (currently listening to 'the Economist' editor comments - v.good on the train in the morning).

5. news video Internet-sites; sometimes, it is necessary to see what is happening. And yes, most important information can now be streamed via the internet (e.g. watching last year's Melbourne Cup win ner Maykbe Diva, AFL, etc.).

So yes, I too will join the chorus to in saying that the trend for use of traditional media in the form of TV, magazines, and even newspapers (in hard-copy form) will be downwards. A recent 'The Economist' podcast likened the new media to the advent of the Gutenberg's printing press in the late 15th century. At that time, this led to significant social improvement (e.g. everyone being able to read literature) and upheaval (e.g. reformation). Unlike then, I believe the paradigm shift to new media (e.g. internet, blogs, wikis, etc.) will be rapid - by definition the Internet allows for distributed, rapid, mass-contributed, and concentric uptake of information (e.g. Google, Wikipedia).

And this raises a number of questions to me about new accessing media:
  • what can I learn from others? and other's interests? (looking at other's Bloglines, FlickR profiles are a fascinating view on a person's interests) what am I missing that other people are using? (yes I know, I should have a myspace ...)
  • what are companies doing to target individuals accessing this media (e.g. could there by product archetypes that are ordinary people rather than athletes, movie stars)? currently, most of the media I access is free, when will they start charging me to for all this information?
  • and finally, when are my friends / family going to join (as 'The Economist' says) this participatory media?!
So stop watching TV, and get out there and comment on the world ... there is enough to talk about thats for sure ;)

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