Posted by: martinworster | November 24, 2009

79. DATA STREAMS

With the recent purchase of my iPhone I am never away from the internet. I can even surf whilst on the toilet. It’s the best cr-app there is. I’d purposely held off from getting an internet enabled phone precisely for the reason you’d get one – to be permanently switched on, the world at your fingertips, a flood of data streams and content 24-7. Sometimes it’s nice to have a break from all this technology. Not anymore. Now after staring at a screen all day in my ‘office’ I can retire to the sofa and check Twitter and Facebook via my phone.

I sometimes wonder if technology does really increase our quality of life. It’s meant to make things easier and quicker – so we have more free time. Machines do the work for us. I think it’s the other way around. It takes me 2-3 hours a day to wade through my emails. The permanently ‘on’ culture of the last decade means people expect answers to emails quickly – many instantly. It’s a flood of data to the point of it being meaningless. Yes, I am communicating with people from every corner of the globe and I know what’s going on anywhere and anytime – but it takes up all my time!

This ‘permanently on’ culture has pervaded all areas of society and culture. Especially with regards to the media and 24 hour rolling news channels – that’s a lot of hours to fill. So the life cycle of a story is often very short before the next media storm appears on the fast moving horizon, to quickly dissipate after a few hours. It’s the Twitterfication of the media, a rolling news feed – hungry consumers, eager for the next tit byte. This means there is a serious lack of depth to most journalism. But that’s probably a response to the fact that there’s a total lack of depth in the consumer. We just want to hear about celebrities. We wanted it yesterday. Consume. Consume. 

It is evident in my own habits. I no longer have the patience for lengthy book reviews – or reviews of any kind for that matter. It’s not a new thing to say the critic is dead (we are all critics now). But I really don’t have the time to hear how good a writer they are or how much they know about this and that. The whole ‘aren’t I’m clever this newspaper pays me solely to listen to music and distill my wisdom to you mere mortal readers’ notion is irritating. The critic in his ivory tower. Not any more. Can’t you just give it marks out of ten and, if it’s music, link to it so I can hear the album for myself without even having to pay for it?

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