Friday, April 20, 2007


Mixed media

Joseph, over at Corpus Callosum, wrote the other day about a Salon article about Patti Smith. He says something in it that brings up something I've been thinking about here and there for a few years now:

If you do visit the page, be sure to download the podcast, because it is much more extensive than the written part of the interview.

When news organizations (and other related outlets) started using the web in addition to their normal media, their web sites were more or less teasers for the print or radio or television version. You'd see their web site, and to get the full story you'd go to the magazine, or whatever. But that's changed in recent years, and the web sites are now at least equal to the original medium, and often even superior to it.

It's not uncommon, now, to see a more extensive version of a story on the web. NPR will often air part of an interview on their radio show, and will tell you to go to the web to hear the full discussion. News magazines often have more details, more graphics, interactive visualisations, and a great deal of background information on the web.

Of course, this makes a lot of sense in that we're taking full advantage of the communications media. Air time on a radio or television show is scarce, but a longer version can be put on the web for you to listen to or watch at your pleasure. A magazine has static content, but the online version can give you an interactive experience, and can be corrected and updated as needed. But it's also more than that.

We've changed how we expect to get information. I find that when there isn't a web site that I can visit to see more about things, to look at what's coming in future programs, to check the archive of what's come before, to get information about the staff... I feel that something's missing. And adding the web extras to radio and television programs makes a lot of sense, because each complements the other.

I wonder, though, about where print media fits in all this in the long term. News magazines really have nothing over their web versions, except for the people who like to flip through paper pages. It's nice to read the morning newspaper over your bagel and coffee, but a laptop and a wireless Internet connection works at least as well, provides all the extras, and doesn't get newspaper ink all over your hands. For commuters we have the podcasts, and one can read the news on PDAs and mobile phones and not have to fold them compactly and worry about hitting one's neighbour while turning the pages. And there's no paper to throw away afterward. Is it just a matter of time before “subway origami” becomes a lost art?

1 comment:

The Ridger, FCD said...

There are still many people who can't afford a laptop with wireless. And there are many people who can who don't like to read things on a computer screen. I know a lot of them. They use computers, but they print a lot. And they don't read blogs or news on line because the screen annoys - or even pains - them.