The emergence of user-generated content by informed experts will offset the downfall of Old Media somewhat, but I reject the notion it can entirely without something being lost, especially in certain areas or our society where old media is still needed. A blowhard, pontificating blogger who doesn't leave his house or make any phone calls will not, in most cases, offer a better take on the day's politics than an NY Times' David Sanger chasing down sources throughout D.C. Or, more to the point, the blogger has nothing to pontificate on if the Times, Washington Post and all those traditional guys don't go to work.
Despite these drawbacks, at least social technologies make discussion possible and can hold Old Media accountable. That's something to celebrate even if our attentions spans are lost and we're more concerned with "me me me!" when we log on. Television, in fact, has been a far bigger evil at polluting our brains.
Aside from some efforts by Al Gore's Current TV, which integrates social technologies for viewers to interact with the programming, television has never been more static, mind numbing and terrible. I'm perpetually astonished by the shows (The Bachelor & The Bachelorette, The Hills, etc.) that continue to enjoy airtime. For these plethora of stupid shows, the common qualifier I hear is: "I watch it because it's so stupid that I think it's funny."
Good television shows exist, but they usually walk a thinner line and find it difficult to stay on the air. There's a laundry list of intellectually curious or clever shows (see: Arrested Development, Pushing Daisies, Studio 60, among many others) that have difficulty making money and get canceled.
So the fact kids will upload a video or type a comment on a social technology is far better than sitting on the couch and watching "reality" shows that represent anything but. The discussions of social media in the future might not — or will not, depending on how cynical you are — be in regards to a novel, a biography about John Adams or Abraham Lincoln, or a feature in the Times. They probably will center around games and who you spent your Saturday night with.
But thanks to TV, it could be — and has been — much worse.
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