Have you noticed anyone lately carrying a set of drums with them…? Neither have I. A very long unsophisticated time ago, tribes communicated by drums. Later with runners and pigeons and pony express. But finally in the early 19th C came the telegraph. Humanity’s first electronic breakthrough giving us almost instant communication over long distances.
When the first telegraph wire was built between Boston and Austin Thoreau remarked dryly: “But does New England really have anything to say to Texas?” Watching CNN botch report after report from Boston this week, we saw how fast has now apparently become more important than fact. Anything for a scoop, even if we haven’t the time to check our facts.
Time and again the news media do this. They rush to the scene to find — if necessary to invent — the hottest story they can in the fastest time they have. We blame them for shoddy work; they blame us for demanding to be constantly titillated. There’s enough blame to go around.
Try finding reporters responsible enough to hold-the-headline or audiences responsible enough to wait. Speed is the new benediction for the new religion of round-the-clock headlines. Illustrating that point are the manufacturers of our culture’s latest digital thingamabobs. For example, Germany’s Max Planck Institute has just announced a brand spanking new keypad apps designed for faster thumb typing.
I kid you not! Now with this new apps you can type up to 37 words per minute with only a 5% error rate in glorious operatic contrast to the average keypad user’s 20 words.
I don’t know how this strikes you, but it seems to me we have sunk into a squishy media culture in which How is so much more important than What. How we do things apparently trumps What we do. Have you noticed some of today’s hasty dopcumen taries and absurd reality programs? Today is all about speed and style; facts and substance come in a very poor second.
Sorry about that.
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