Sunday, July 08, 2007

Too old for Facebook? « Scobleizer

Too old for Facebook? « Scobleizer

What goes around comes around. I was upstairs, playing Warcraft for most of today; my first good five-hour session in a long time. As I ripped through a metric buttload of Ogres, grinding my way through level 68, I was thinking about the time I've spent on the game, and how my media habits have changed over the last few years.

I've started watching television a bit more, recently; rarely live (unless it's a half eye on the sport that Ian has on), usually documentaries from the PVR, or catching up with Doctor Who. The set rarely moves from UKTV History or BBC Four, to be honest. This evening, as I tore myself away from Azeroth, I came down to find Ian watching a best of Clive James' Chat shows programme.

The line-up - admittedly, a best of, so they had a lot to choose from - but the line-up of guests was amazing. Peter Cook and Barry Humphries together. Germaine Greer and Alan Coren. David Attenborough and Howard Jacobson. Melvyn Bragg, Jonathan Miller, Joanna Lumley, Katherine Hepburn...

There used to be clever people on television, with opinions, whom you learnt from. They cling on in Radio 4, but TV is the realm of the makeover, the WAG. It makes me feel old and irrelevant, and it’s oddly unsatisfying, like a diet of takeaway food.

Which brings me to Robert Scoble's comment about the drop in blog traffic. I'm so behind on my feed reading at the moment, it's not true. I'm not (book) reading much, but I'm listening to more music and watching more TV than usual. I'm fiddling on Flickr, and a bit on facebook, but neglecting Twitter, and Jaiku.

I'm fickle, and only have so much attention to pay to things. If one thing takes my time and energy, other things must be neglected.

It amuses me that I've been in so many meetings with people going 'games and the internet will take eyeballs and time away from telly!' and now I'm hearing bloggers going 'Social Networks are taking attention away from blogs!'. Admittedly, in the case of telly their idea of attention is a bit warped; it’s been long known that those viewing figures aren’t a guarantee that anyone was actually taking in your programme’s content, just an indication that the telly was burbling in the corner of the room whilst domestic life ebbed and flowed around it.

I’m getting to a point where I feel permanently un-satiated by my media. None of the experiences seem… significant enough, in the way that watching the Late Show in the early 90s made me set the course of my life away from science and towards art. Even the excellent Andrew Marr histories felt too… shiny and slick to really be meaningful. The images are empty. My to-read pile of books is growing inexorably – thanks to Amazon and the ease of finding things that look interesting, I’m buying faster than I read now.

How many hours in the day do you need to keep up with the onslaught of information? When was the last time you engaged really deeply with a pop culture artifact? These are all transient things.

I just wish those transient unsatisfying things didn't distract me from getting round to that slow, tangible drawing project I've been thinking about for weeks.


Anonymous said...

But of course, one of the differences in media and your perception of it between now and those years back is that you've seen the wizard behind the scenes, you know much more how it works.

I'm not entirely convinced things are so much worse (though yes, get the WAGs off and find new Peter Cook equivalents), only that we're a lot more aware of the tricks of the trade and - to an extent - defending against them.

kim said...

Yes and no, to be honest. I've always been reasonably aware of the constructedness of media, and for years after doing the TV Production masters, I was still very, very in love with the medium. Bear in mind I spent 3 years revelling in classic telly on the Cult site!

Programmes like 'How Buildings Learn', and really simple observational documentaries... slow TV. That's what I miss. There's little elegaic on TV at the moment; slow TV divides in to the horribly strung out to fill an hour slot with the minimum Shoot days (Channel 4, I'm looking at you), or the slow but tedious live coverage of banality that is Big Brother Live.

I'm wondering if it's more that I'm a bit tired, and just... my palette is jaded.

It's partly things-shot-in-HD-then-dropped-down-to-digi-and-film-effected too. They just seem... shiny. Queasy shiny and overpolished. But that's an aesthetic decision.

Not sure what you mean about defending against the tricks, though?

(Also, who are you? :)

Anonymous said...

The clever people are still there and still talking, though. In some ways, it's more accessible. I used to say that I would pay my whole license fee just for Radio 3. These days I would pay my whole license fee just for Philip Dodd on Nightwaves and never mind the music even. And the remarkable thing is, I can do this from Pakistan, whereas a few years ago, Before Podcast, I would never even have found it on the radio, probably because it clashed with EastEnders or something equally life-affirming....

Hasn't it always been the case that there is plenty of rubbish around to distract us from what's really important? I seem to remember Pascal said something about the newspapers creating fatal diversions from the important business of reading books. Maybe it's not that new media change the way we interact with information - but just foreground it because old habits seems suddenly new, having expressed themselves in slightly novel ways.

kim said...

Yes - I agree re. the 'it's the same old story about media changing' - you can trace back the tabloid / dumbing down discussion to Penny Dreadfuls, using almost exactly the same language. The thing that's changing is my engagement with it, and it's funny seeing the New Media set start to behave like the Old Media set!

I think the point about Nightwaves on Radio 3 that you only found through podcasts is quite an interesting one; it reinforces how marginalised that mode of programme making has become. In the space of ten years its gone from primetime BBC2 to graveyard shift on the least popular network...

Young Geoffrion said...

Well, fickle Ishi Mirrikh, we miss you and wish you back among others of comparable age and wit, but finish your drawing first if you must. Do look me up in Orion if you visit SL, or send a note to Young at Demonroad dot com.

Slow TV has moved to China, where Phoenix Television has intelligent conversation David Frost style, with intelligent audiences on subjects like macroeconomics and classical philosophy! I fear it will not last and banality nibbles at the corners. Fortunately I do not have a television.