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"Never have so many people written so much to be read by so few"

Good piece on blogging in the "Circuits" section of today's New York Times. (Click here to read it.)

As I've been thinking about the function of this corner of cyberspace--and about blogging in general--it's increasingly clear that this isn't really broadcasting at all; it's narrowcasting. The very technology that empowers so many of us to air our thoughts, our whims, our primal screams, or whatever, has thoroughly fragmented the marketplace of ideas. There are so many voices in print, on the airwaves, and on the Internet, demanding our attention, that we tend to focus only on a handful of "reliable sources" in the course of our busy days. People's appetite for news and opinion thus tends to drift toward vehicles that are comfortable and familiar: conservatives tune in to Rush Limbaugh and Fox News, just as liberals prefer NPR and the Times' Op-Ed page. And so the national dailogue becomes more shrill, more partisan, and less engaging in an America divided into "red" and "blue" camps. In many ways, we are better served than we were the days in which we all got our take on the world from Walter Cronkite's evening broadcast; but on the other hand, we've lost something precious: a common vocabulary with which to discuss the issues of the day.

It's the same in popular music. One can make a compelling case that the old system of recording contracts was exploitative and crassly commercial. But the advent of downloading music has turned the industry on its head precisely due to fragmentation of the marketplace: a listener can zero in on exactly the artist, the very song, he knows he already likes. Without the investment by record companies in building the reputations of new artists, common tastes are harder to develop. So everyone gets just what he or she wants to listen to, but the role of music in forming the glue of community is diminished in the process.


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on May 27, 2004 12:59 PM.

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