Friday, August 26

Medium Tech

Musser Park, July 4th 2016 • The Red Rose Honor Guard presents as the Malta Concert Band plays the anthem.
Technology is how we... humans... extend ourselves. Take media for example. I'm sitting in a media room looking at 60 inch flat screen immersed in surround sound while typing into this blog as it appears on my 27" iMac. Both the cable system powering the TV and the mega-speed internet hookup that I'm feeding are portals. The let me peer into places scattered around the globe and then push back at them. Last night I Face-Timed some friends in Texas. Soon I'll interact with my home desktop from Spain.

Symphonic orchestras and classical musicians are experiencing huge difficulties attracting younger audiences who find that sitting in a concert hall only satisfies one of their senses. While the video games they left at home allowed them to interact with at least three... sight, hearing, and touch. No matter how expert the musicians, those hours in symphony halls are to them so flat in comparison. Even movies are flattened by their inability to permit interaction or to allow something other than a linear experience.

Linear? Well sure. Try to jump ahead in a movie theater to "the good parts" Look how the music "album" is dying as iTunes buyers or Pandora listener are  freed from purchasing collections of an artist's music, and instead can graze through vast cafeterias choosing where they want to wallow.

And then there were parades. Remember them? They were multi-media sure, but linear. People increasingly reject the tyranny of parade organizers who mix the mediocre or shamefully commercial into the stream... Once again forcing watchers to accept their judgements. Even the large holiday celebrations are finding it hard to compete against competitors for time. Competitors who have cut markets into tinier and tinier niches. Suburban 12 year old females with an Asian heritage can build their own community networks of people like themselves who will allow them multi-entry non-linear interactive, surround sound experiences that they can access spontaneously 24/7.

Mass cultural battlements will not survive those assaults. Instead they will increasingly appeal only to the nostalgia of aging groups. We talk about the death of distance, when it's the death of traditional glue that's even more existentially transformative.

High tech has destroyed a sense of long term planning. And medium tech's the fuel only of nostalgia. It's what good aging people put into museums and holiday celebrations, while they still exist.