Yet another weird SF fan

I'm a mathematician, a libertarian, and a science-fiction fan. Common sense? What's that?

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Yet another weird SF fan

Monday, April 24, 2006

Deja Moo, Continued

The Deja Moo phenomenon (previously covered here) continues. The latest attempt at reviving 1970s cliches is in The Guardian:

The context is the clicking, bleeping, flashing world of screens. There has been a change in our environment that is so all-embracing and in a way so banal that we barely notice it. In just a couple of decades, we have slipped away from a culture based essentially on words to one based essentially on images, or pictures. This is probably one of the great shifts in the story of modern humans but we take it almost for granted.
How's that again? The change to an image culture occurred a half century ago in the 1950s and 1960s back when television ruled the Earth. If anything, the Internet is a step back toward words. But wait, there's more:
Put like that, it is obvious where her worries lie. The flickering up and flashing away again of multimedia images do not allow those connections, and therefore the context, to build up. Instant yuk or wow factors take over. Memory, once built up in a verbal and reading culture, matters less when everything can be summoned at the touch of a button (or, soon, with voice recognition, by merely speaking). In a short attention-span world, fed with pictures, the habit of contemplation and the patient acquisition of knowledge are in retreat.
It sounds like the context is more available than ever. (This does not mean there is less call for memory as there are now far more things to remember. That might be another corollary of Parkinson's Law.)

I suspect the most important distinctions are the distinction between ephemeral media and persistent media and the distinction between linear and spatial media. (Books, in case you were wondering, are less linear than music videos.) When you are listening to a story (or watching a live TV broadcast), you cannot compare one part of it to another that easily. Even if you are dealing with a recording, it's much more difficult when there is no index or table of contents or it you can't leaf through it. Internet web sites are almost as persistent as books (there are dead sites) and far more spatial.

By the way, what do New Age Loons mean by “linear”? It doesn't mean “you can't skip around” because they think of print as something linear.


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