Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Are Headlines the Future of Information?

I have to admit that I love lists, highlights, and other things of that nature and, if the articles on the Wired website are any indication, I’m not alone in that feeling. However, when are the tidbits we get in our lives no longer enough?
This week’s readings gave me a lot to think about in terms of how we consume media and culture in our society today. Nancy Miller’s article was all about “snack culture” and how we are consuming culture in smaller and smaller bits and snacking on it all day instead taking it all in at one time.
There are a few reasons why we enjoy this “snack-o-tainment,” as Miller calls it.
First of all, we are able to get the necessary information much faster with bite-sized bits of information. It is easy to turn on Sports Centre and catch the highlights of all of last night’s games instead of having to watch all the games or flip back and forth. The faster we can get all the pertinent information, the better. I love watching television shows that count down lists of music, movies, or other such things. This is a great way to see what is popular and well liked without having to consume the full length products.
One of the great things about having bite sized information available anywhere and at any time is that we can check up on things whenever we want. If we have a spare minute or two we are able to access the news or watch part of a television show. These days we have so much going on that we have to use our time wisely. Not only is this important when we are constantly on the go and using our mobile technology, but sometimes even when we’re stationary we have to check up on things and don’t have a lot of time to do it.
We’ve become accustomed to small bits of information. Our culture is becoming more used to all these snack sized information and could potentially have an effect on our attention spans. I for one am easily distracted by several news headlines that pop up when I sign into hotmail and sometimes even forget what I started looking at. The headlines have to be interesting to me though, otherwise I won’t bother looking into them. This is part of the reason that journalists have to make sure that their article has all the important and relevant information right at the beginning, in case the reader doesn’t have time to read the whole article. That practice has been transferred to new media, which tries to catch our attention with links instead of newspaper headlines.
Not only do we want information that is quick, whether it be a few hundred words or a minute or two, we also want information that is given to us over small technology. Computers are getting smaller, and now we don’t even need a computer to look up information. We could find most things online from our cell phones, which are even smaller. Not only is information being gathered on smaller technology, but music is being transported in smaller devices as well. We need things to be portable, which makes some people in the television and movie industry irritated, to say the least. What director wants their movie to be seen on a teeny tiny screen? While the critics may frown upon the idea of portable movies, the rest of the public has embraced their portable theatres.
For those of you who have looked at the Wired site, I’d like to get your take on our snack culture and see what you think about the way we consume information. Hopefully my ideas have come across well enough that you can compare your thoughts to them. For now, that’s all I have to say, except that I am now suddenly craving a snack…

1 comment:

  1. Snacking has definitely taken over our society in terms of how we gather and process information. In our technological world we're always trying to get things done as quickly as possible, and in order to keep up with new technologies we need to snack instead of indulge. If we can get the same message from a medium in 5 minutes rather than 30 we're going to choose to snack for 5 minutes rather than 30.