Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Death of Radio

So let me start by saying this: new media is basically great.  I love the internet.  It makes a huge world really small.  It provides plenty of entertainment options and provides them instantaneously.  The digital revolution has completely changed entertainment.  Now we don’t have to wait for a certain show or song to come on the TV or radio.

That said, there’s also a major drawback to it.

This hasn’t hit television and movies as much as it’s hit music.  After all, the pros far outweigh the cons.  You can still watch with friends, and being able to marathon a series is far superior to trying to piece a story together from randomly jumping around through reruns.  No, I’m thinking more about the death of radio.

I’ve been forced to rely on the radio in the past.  Few of the family vehicles had CD players for the longest time, and cassette tapes went obsolete while I was fairly young.  And of course, while working in the tractor, there aren’t many alternatives since the tractor’s audio systems are designed to compete with the engine’s noise pollution and headphones…aren’t.

For me (and I suspect a lot of other people), radio used to be one of the best ways to listen to music.  Music CD’s can get expensive, especially if you’re only looking for a single song instead of a full album.  As a boy on a budget, I’d usually just pass.  The internet changed that.  With the ability to illegally download easily buy any single song, combined with the storage capacity and portability of mp3 players as opposed to the bulky, prone-to-skipping CD players, how we listened to music was turned on its head.  You can listen to any song you want to at any time you want to, anywhere you want to.  It’s wonderful.  It’s convenient.

But the radio had a type of magic to it.  Being able to choose what you listen to any time you want makes the music a little less special.  You don’t get to choose what the radio plays, and if there’s some sort of programming schedule, I don’t know anyone who actually pays attention to it.  Listening to the radio is kind of like gambling.  Sometimes a song you absolutely hate comes on (at which point you inevitably change the station to try to find something that sucks less), but sometimes you get that song you love that you barely ever hear, and there’s such an elation that comes with it.

See, listening to music off of an mp3 list usually results in listening to a song for anywhere from ten seconds to a minute before you switch it.  When a song comes on the radio, it’s there to stay.  And if it’s a good song, you can’t help but sing along with it.  There’s something that’s so much more exciting about you and a friend singing along to Bohemian Rhapsody or The Lion Sleeps Tonight at the top of your lungs when it’s come on the radio as opposed to specifically choosing it.

As Marshal McLuhan said, “The medium is the message,” and the message of radio is taking a gamble on your music.  New Media has eliminated the roulette aspect of listening to music and has consequently killed the magic.  A slot machine where you always win is no fun.  Without risk, there’s no reward to winning.

That’s why, whenever I’m driving, I still choose the radio over a CD or mp3.  Because there’s still a chance I’ll find an old classic or a pleasant new surprise.  And for my music library to stagnate?  Well…that’s the worst message I could think of.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Blogging about Tweeting

So I guess today I’m blogging about tweeting today.

Twitter is…an interesting platform that I’m not quite sure I’m getting the most out of yet.  But hey, I’ve gotten some notoriety lately.

Part of the reason Twitter is so handy is that you can follow people who I might not be able to be in contact with otherwise, just because Twitter is so much more public.

I’ve been a fan of the reality TV show Survivor ever since the first season (despite how big of a guilty pleasure it is), and I recently started following some of my favorite contestants.  A few minutes after following him, one of the more famous and notable characters to ever show up on the show sent me a tweet (referring to the alliteration in my profile description).

I’ve also managed to gait a few retweets or favorites from people who aren’t following me through hashtags or replies to posts.

At this point, my use of Twitter is still a bit meager, but I’m learning.  Who knows?  Maybe eventually, I’ll be able to generate more buzz.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

I’ve Been Framed

So my blog currently only has two posts because I have about five sitting around as drafts because I do stupid things like that.  So while I start backdating those posts so that the blog’s not empty, let’s talk about some new media stuff.

There are a lot of new media things that have stuck out to me for one reason: a framing device.  Something that makes it just a little bit more exciting.  There are a lot of websites that all add a little something to imitate something else.  To give it that little bit of flavor that sets it apart.

The Xbox 360 popularized the idea of “achievements,” or specific goals and challenges that are “unlocked” once accomplished.  They moved from the Xbox 360 to the PC and Playstation, and from there, into new media vocabulary.

When I was looking into options for website advertisements, I decided on Project Wonderful.  After creating an account and poking around the website for a bit, I found that there were achievements that I could unlock.  Achievements for getting a certain number of bids or publishing a certain amount of ads or adding friends.  Achievements for, of all things, advertising.  I never had much success with the site, but the fact that they would use achievements for it made it stick in my mind.

Another example of a framing device in use shows up in a fairly new website: Challenge Accepted.  It’s basically a to-do list, with one small exception: the whole thing is set up as an RPG.  When you accomplish tasks, you gain EXP, level up, improve in skills.  It’s a to-do list that turns your life into an epic adventure.  It’s a small thing, but it’s an insanely powerful motivator for that little bit in your mind that gets rewarded for accomplishing tasks.

So yeah, basically…they’re gimmicks.  Framing devices, but they’re still gimmicky.  But here’s the thing: people remember gimmicks, and even gimmicks can be good if they’re done right.  There’s a lot of media out there, and you need something new, original, clever, and creative to set you apart from the rabble.

So!  Anyone else have any of these framing devices or gimmicks used in new media?  I’d love to see more examples.