What if mass media went away?

Here’s a thought experiment:
What if the internet were to absorb mass media? What if radio and television were to disappear entirely, their services absorbed into the net, handled by a number of competing players all capable of combining radio, TV, video and pictures with email, IM, chat and so on? We can learn something about our mass media, and how internet media relate to mass media, just by conjuring up what would happen….

  • We would notice their disappearance
  • Radios would seem strangely disconnected
  • A silence would be more than just quiet; it would feel like a death, something wrong
  • We would miss familiar voices
  • And yearn to hear old routines
  • After a period of sending one another urls to videos hosted at YouTube (Gootube? Goodtube? Toggletube?) We might then wish to just be entertained, no searching, no streaming, no dialog boxes necessary
  • We might miss the sense that something live is happening
  • That we’re all watching it together — common culture and all of that
  • That familiar voice, and the ham it up routine performed by our favorite DJs on the radio morning show we would miss hearing during our morning commute, not possibly but probably
  • We’d miss the ease of sitting back and allowing the professionals to gather up the day’s news, stamping them with significance or undermining them with tongue in cheek delivery
  • I’m sure we’d also grow tired of the ongoing chore of making selection after selection
  • And of being asked to view or click, listen to, or forward, items sent along by friends
  • Not to mention strangers
  • But after a while, perhaps, these things would fade,
  • Live broadcasts might take root online,
  • We could Skype into radio shows
  • Hear ourselves back on podcasts released later in the day
  • Watch ourselves on our webcams as we pose questions to off color news anchors
  • And send those around later in the day
  • When they appear in “members in the news” widgets on mytube.Sfgate.Com
  • We might all benefit, we might each enjoy such a post-modernization, play-shifting and time-shifting mass media for easier consumption
  • The question that occurs then being: how would our culture change?
  • How would it look to us if playshifting eroded our scheduled routines, if we ceased to participate in activities on the basis of time and instead participated on the baseis of interest and need?
  • If the centrifugal forces of mass media lost their power, would the state, a body with fewer organs (state organs, organs of power, organ-izing organs — to quote Gilles Deleuze), find its way into new media?
  • When scheduled media disappear, does culture lose its metronome?
  • Does culture lose its rhythm? Or do journalists just lose their beats?

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