Sunday, September 23, 2007
Podcasting, broadcasting and casting about for meaning
I find myself astraddle the KUSP of a changing world. I'm a reader of books and articles, an occasional writer, too easily distracted by life. I enjoy sitting in a comfortable chair, holding a book in my hands, following the words, sentences, paragraphs, and chapters in a linear fashion, one thought at a time.
My approach to radio is essentially through writing, being responsible for promotional announcements, grant announcements, various verbal components of the radio station that exist as the written word before they are spoken over the air.
Radio has always been an ephemeral phenomenon, available when you tune your radio to a specific frequency at a specific time. You know the time when you want to hear a specific piece and you make yourself available to a radio at the agreed upon time.
This is changing now, in these days of computers, iPods, podcasting and content-on-demand. One can now have the desired content downloaded to one's computer, downloaded to one's iPod and consumed at leisure, while walking, jogging bicycling (Heaven forbid) or just mucking about.
This doesn't change the ephemeral basis of the experience, however, and I submit that modern methods of listening to radio content are just as ephemeral, if not even more so. Both streams of information pass by in their own time, even though an iPod (I think, not being an iPod owner or user) can be "rewound" and played over again, which radio can not.
The question is: where is our society headed vis-a-vis literacy? More and more young people listen to stream of information rather than reading. I'm constantly irritated by links to audio files rather than text based information. I don't want to listen to a speech, I want to read the text, so I can reflect on it, analyze it, save it for later referral. With a recorded talk, I can't go back and find a specific passage for easy referral, plus it is recorded, not written, so it is more difficult to access and otherwise process.
Is our society becoming illiterate, or non-literate? What does it mean when a society deliberately abandons the written word? Are we changing back to an oral history society from a literate society? Is this bad? Or is this a good move away from the dominance of the written word.
I don't know and I'm worried about it.