Monday, December 8, 2008

the medium: once again, the message?

The founder of an online writer's group that i belong to forwarded a link to this article by Virginia Heffernan in yesterday's NYT Magazine on the disconnect between the work of traditional media folks and the new digital forms of delivery.

She writes:

"We have to develop content that metamorphoses in sync with new ways of experiencing it, disseminating it and monetizing it. This argument concedes that it’s not possible to translate or extend traditional analog content like news reports and soap operas into pixels without fundamentally changing them. So we have to invent new forms. All of the fascinating, particular, sometimes beautiful and already quaint ways of organizing words and images that evolved in the previous centuries — music reviews, fashion spreads, page-one news reports, action movies, late-night talk shows — are designed for a world that no longer exists. They fail to address existing desires, while conscientiously responding to desires people no longer have."

Some interesting ideas in the 1000-word piece (which in itself is not exactly a digital-friendly presentation), most especially in the comments that follow. What I wonder is if these new modes of delivery will enhance the values that make journalism relevant -- or distract from them. Or whether in the land of Web 3.0, too much of the burden of keeping current will fall on the backs of the news consumers themselves. We will become our own watchdogs?

And what about the emergence of product-oriented "content" on company websites? I am grown-up enough to know that cosmetics ads support much of the content in women's magazines. Still, I'd rather read about the best under-eye cream in Vogue than on Oil of Olay's website. I think. bk

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