Media Abundance Pressures Local TV

Reporting in the Miami Herald on a group held in New York by the International Radio and Television Society Foundation, discussing future of television Ed Wasserman says that the end of "media scarcity" means the old business model for smaller tv stations is coming to an end. They used to lengthen the short reach of network-owned big-market tv. The new technologies (cable, satellite and the net) invalidate this business model. These stations will ultimately have to focus more on local content, competing with newspapers.


Simultaneous Multiple Media Use

The Media Center at the American Press Institute studies simultaneous media use. In their fourth study of the emergent generation of media consumers, they state that:

"The Content Generation is also The Complex Generation - historic modes of communication become form factors in complex networks of multi-tasking, simultaneous behavior. Newspapers, direct mail, magazines, television, cable, radio — these converge and contribute to discourse and decision-making in varying and overlapping degrees alongside and simultaneous with word of mouth, email, online advertising and other forms.

Reading the mail while watching TV tops simultaneous media usage, with 73.9% of consumers saying they regularly or occasionally do so, a slight increase since SIMM III (73.3%).

Rounding out the top five SIMM usages (SIMM III results in parenthesis):

2. While reading a newspaper, watching TV 64.5% (65.2%)

3. While watching TV, reading mail 64.2% (64.1%)

4. While online, watching TV 62.9% (65.2%)

5. While reading a magazine, watching TV 59.2% (59.8%)"


No Church: Layered Faith: The Way, West

Researchers say the Western U.S, holds a growing number of those who belong to no specific religion but who are not non-believers. In keeping with the West's tradition of flexibility, multiplicity and pragmatism, they assemble their spiritual practices from the a wide array of world religious and spiritual traditions. Eric Gorski reports in the Denver Post.


Crumbling Hegemony & The New Medievalism

We've been noting the tendency of modern culture to move away from literacy and toward visual culture for a long while. This and other evidence suggest that we are moving toward an era that has a lot in common with the Middle Ages.

In a fascinating essay on the dangers of a world without a dominant power, Niall Ferguson writes in the Wall Street Journal about the possibility of a new Dark Ages in which the decline of Europe, loss of will by the U.S. and econo-political crisis in China combine with the fragmentation of the conflicted Muslim world to produce an era of unprecedented violence and stress. "Waning empires. Religious revivals. Incipient anarchy. A coming retreat into fortified cities. These are the Dark Age experiences that a world without a hyperpower might find itself reliving."

"Deglobalization —which is what a new dark ages would amount to— would lead to economic depression. The result would be an America that abandons its openness, a Europe curdled by Islamic extremism, and a China that implodes, a world of terrorists wreaking havoc on land and sea, and the occasional nuclear conflict devastating such spots as Korea and Kashmir."


Fragmentation of Media and Audiences Make Election Ads Cost More, Do Less, and Alienate More

Are all those expensive media efforts, which absorb the vast portion of campaign costs, just so many communications dinosaurs? Are the citizens learning what they need to know their own way?

Writing in the Washington Post, Paul Farhi describes challenges imposed on our election campaign process by the changing mediasphere. As the media choices proliferate, audiences are harder to reach and thus more costly to reach. In addition this increased cost has forced the campaigns' media efforts to focus on smaller chunks of the citizens.

"The fragmenting of the mass audiences into smaller splinters has fueled a countertrend: "niche" ads that play to narrow subgroups of voters, or to those in a discrete geographic area."

The campaigns no longer conduct national communications efforts that we all share. Many voters are ignored altogether. This, in turn, may breed indifference to the campaign.

An alternative view would be that this trend is actually a good thing. Those who lament the loss of the national ad audiences of the past are assuming that political ads actually benefit the democracy. But it can also be argued that those ads provide more heat than light, and that audiences ignoring them or missing them point to an end of their influence. "Push" media products, made to entertainment industry standards, may better be replaced by "pull" information coming from the internet, from print, and from actual video journalism, should TV ever discover a demand for it.

Pollsters also find it harder to reach people, as fewer people answer their phones (think caller id) or remain out of reach due to cell phones use (pollsters can't make people pay for calls.) So polls are being distorted by the shift in media technology.


Drenched in Media

"Given the accelerated rate of media expansion and fragmentation, some industry executives have begun wondering whether we could reach a point where there simply is too much media." — Joe Mandese, reporting for Television Week

The article reports on a study by investment banker Veronis Suhler Stevenson that by 2007 Americans will spend 3,874 hours per year with major consumer media. That is 161,4 days or 44% of a year's 8760 hours. If you can believe this study it means that the average citizen is drenched in media during the waking hours. Other studies report that nearly a third of people feel overhwelmed by the quantity of media opportunities available to them.

"It's difficult for people to estimate how much time they spend with media, either because they don't realize it or because they don't want to acknowledge it. I think we really don't like to admit how much media we use because it makes us look like we have no life, or that we're somehow out of control." Bob Papper, a telecommunications professor at Ball State university.


Cuborgan by Frank Gehry

The new organ at Los Angeles' Walt Disney Concert Hall takes the tradition-steeped art of organ-case design in explosive new directions. Designed by Los Angeles organ designer Manuel Rosales, built by Glatter-Gotz Orgelbau and visually designed by Frank Gehry, the organ has 6,125 pipes, 72 speaking stops, 109 ranks, two 32' and four 16' stops, and dual consoles. Gently curving douglas fire pipes rise in layered angles in the facade. One can even walk among these pipes. During the design process it was referred to as the "french fry."

The building is a good example of the new cubist architecture itself. Click here to see a gallery of photos of the building being constructed. There are lots of wonderful photos of the complex steelwork that underlies these marvels of computer-assisted architectural engineering.


Road Thrill: the Daily Drive's New Distractions

In-car porn, visible from other cars, is driving some to action. Charisse Jones reports in USA Today on this technology-driven accretion to our culture.


Home Architecture Assisting Family Fragmentation

An emerging trend in domestic architecture is to cut up the space into more and smaller rooms to aid individual family members in personal activites, from internet access to escape from spouse or siblings. The Wall Street Journal's June Fletcher reports (3/26/04, WSJ Weekend Journal) on this phenomenon as "antisocial architecture." She quotes James Howard Kunstler: "Privacy is the ultimate luxury." The trend is supported by another fragmentation phenomenon, that of recombinant families; with kids from two marriages there is a market for easy separation. Fletcher says both mass-market and high-end house plans are moving this way. To me the trend reflects promotion of the individual by the culture. The primacy of entertainment in modern life combines well with the valuing of individual choice to create this market.


Cubist Building Rises in Denver

Noted architect Daniel Libeskind's striking expansion of the Denver Art Museum is appearing just south of the Public Library's Michael Graves expansion and the Art Museum's main building, Gio Ponti's castle. The Libeskind building when finished will be an interpenetrating assemblage of rhomboid forms with minimal appearance of the 90-degree box.

A visit to site right now gives the viewer a look at some very exciting structural steel. The girders meet at curious angles. The lack of walls and an exterior skin give one views of layered steel that will disappear from view soon enough. Cubistro has been visiting the site to photograph the transient process of this building's emergence.

While the steel components and the emerging forms are very big and getting bigger every day, the impression made by the structure is one of intimacy and personal scale. Unlike the rising, potentially-infinite grid of an office building, this building is contained by own charming logic, which contrasts so markedly with its neighbors. The erging building's naked steel is most sympathetic right now with the Mark Di Suvero sculpture in the Museum's plaza just north across Thirteenth.


Daily News Suffers from Multiple Stresses & Journalistic Process Fragments

The Project for Excellence in Journalism at Columbia University says in "State of the News Media 2004" that journalism is undergoing a big change both in how it operates and in how it is perceived by the public. Denver Post writer Joanne Ostrow writes that a self-feeding cycle of audience decline, staff cuts, truncation of journalistic process, and technologically-based fragmentation constant a sereious threat to journalism, long the informational cornerstone of American democracy. "Because more news outlets are fighting for a shrinking audience, viewers see more 'newsgathering in the raw' (especially on cable's 24-hour news networks), where fragmented, unsynthesized information arrives on the screen." One organization's news standards also change according to the media product: cable, network, web, or print.