My How We Have Changed

A friend emailed me this Care 2 Make a Difference presentation. “Gotta love the punchline,” he wrote.

Even if you don’t recognize the voice, the credits show it is Eric Idle singing. Yup, that Eric Idle, of Monty Python fame.

Got me to thinking, that did.

Actually pretty much anything will get me to thinking. A pair of white sox. Cornflakes. A boat wake which is not to be confused with a wake for a boat.

I got to thinking about the media my grandfather grew up with, the media my father grew up with, the media my son grew up with, and the media we are growing now.

My grandfather was born before Mr. Marconi plumbed the airwaves. He heard Edward R. Murrow broadcast the news during World War II and watched Mr. Murrow take down Senator Joseph McCarthy on television. He watched Walter Cronkite tell of men walking on the Moon. He saw the Tiananmen Square Massacre on television and he read my email about it. (As an aside, my great-grandfather was brought to us by a Pony Express rider because the Stork was busy. He lived to see jet aircraft but communications, for him were still by radio, telephone, and mail.)

Making the change from letters and newspapers to radio was life changing in the way the printing press changed lives. Making the change from the instant transmission of radio or television to the instant transmission of email is simply humdrum. I love technology, but email is just a new technology for the same old letters.

See, email is cool, but it’s not revolutionary. After all, email is just a badly spelled letter that gets there really really fast. Think Ben Franklin meets The Flash. Likewise, HDTV is a really neat media but it’s not revolutionary. After all, it’s just movin’ pitchers attached to your radio set.

But the YouTube digital movies and the Flash-based presentations like Mr. Idle’s, that’s a revolution. Thanks to advertising, we are overwhelmed by imagery in color and sound and motion. Like any predator, we need more and more and more color and sound and motion to retain our attention. Movies have color and sound and motion innit.

Oddly, the revolution isn’t the technology this time. The revolution is what we do with the technology that lets us make our own color and sound and motion and deliver it in almost real time to our viewers.

Darn it, now I need to relearn Flash. I’ll try to resist using it on this blog, though.