* I can’t remember the last time I heard a busy signal.
Busy signals disappeared due to voice mail and call waiting, a phenomenon that happened in the 90s. This is an early step in the direction of 24/7 accessibility and connection via new communication technologies. Although, looking backward, we can say the same thing for the invention of the telephone, telegraph, printing press, and even writing itself. Still, the loss of the busy signal bespeaks a “jacked-in-ness” unmatched in older information technologies.
* The Guiding Light has gone off the air after 72 years. I watched that show with my grandmother when I was ten.
Soap operas are disappearing left and right, something easily explained by a double dynamic of a bad economy and a dwindling audience. There are a host of reasons why soaps are irrelevant. Some say the genre is just worn out. Certainly, the increased number of women in the workforce has impacted viewership numbers. Soaps have aged with their fan base, and so they have a hard time attracting younger viewers. They are more costly to produce than reality television, thus the proliferation of stupid programming. A 2005 Soap Central article discusses the strained relationship between Soaps and the internet. One of those tensions is directly caused by the internet’s success in turning consumers into producers, a phenomenon that also explains the death of the newspaper
* An MSN article predicts that, due to the competition from virtual, online colleges, traditional brick and mortar universities and colleges will disappear in the next 10 – 20 years.
The possible death of colleges and universities is probably the most chilling realization for me, not only because my job is ultimately endangered, but also because a consumer-driven environment cannot promote learning as a quest for knowledge. Already institutions of higher learning suffer under the shifting emphasis from knowledge for its own sake to technical knowledge for the sake of a job.
The POD discussion list widely shared the MSN article about impending doom. The article is a fascinating bit of speculation that warns predicts students will create a mix and match degree from multiple online sources. It mentions that most universities and colleges now offer online classes, which devalues the face-to-face education. In other words, the lack of respect given to “virtual” degrees will disappear as more and more respectable institutions offer virtual classes. Again, the whole 24/7 accessibility and connection comes into play. Is it a good thing that anyone can get a degree?
* Newspapers are becoming extinct in the wake of the internet’s “information” glut.
* Youtube currently has more hours of programming than the collective hours of the three major network stations since television’s inception.
Most of these observations have been lurking around for a while, but they collided in a single moment of shock. I feel a sense of simultaneous possibility and doom. Putting them down collectively into one place marks the moment of shock.
Along with noting that the race is on about whether Amazon or Google is Skynet, the implications of cloud computing, the ultimate disappearance of the desktop computer as more and more people switch to “office suite 2.0,” or online applications and storage, the upcoming release of Google Wave, and the whole wide world of tagging. Wow. Tagging. That’s radically mind-altering.
As I ponder these changes, I think I know how my grandfather must have felt living over the span of time from horses to spaceships.