Thursday, April 27, 2006

Day 114 - The world is getting flat

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I was just doing my usual reading of The Economist on the way home from work today when I read the section on media becoming more and more interactive, it is no longer the passive medium we used to know and love. Media has come a pretty long way, from the ancient scribes of egypt and rome, we discovered printing press, which gave us the newspaper. Eventually radio and television came into our lives. Recently, the internet boomed. But one thing remained constant, media was always passive, just giving us infomation.

Only in recent years(about 3-4 I reckon) did we see the rise of interactive media. Think about it, what is one of the most common activity that people do online? They BLOG... yes blog... this is a blog! The interesting thing about blogs is that it is on a personal level, I write what I want, you write what you want, totally unedited. It is this personal level that make blogs so appealing.

There are so many other new interative media on the rise, myspace and facebook are just 2 examples of new social media rising up in the internet, replacing old school stuff like irc and online chat rooms. Recently we have seen the rise of Viral videos, such videos are made common people like you and me, but they gain IMMENSE popularity, spreading like a virus, hence the name viral. The history can be traced back to the DANCING BABY, yes THE dancing baby that you saw in Ally Mcbeal(wonder if people actually remember that show at all). If you want viral videos, youtube and google video are the places to go. Another rising trend is WIKIs!!! Basically wikis are a collection of resources and data on particular topics that were put together not by a small select grp of experts (in the cases of encyclopedias) but by everyone and anyone on the internet. Wikipedia and WOWwiki are my fav wikis. Heck podcasting is the new radio!

Amazing isn't it, new words just pop up into common language, I mean, in 1990s, there was no such word as blog, viral or podcast. If we just step back and take a good look at the big picture, it is AMAZING how far things moved in recent years. Previously the internet was like traditional media, we just "download" infomation. Now, we also "upload" infomation. It is like the new way to spread infomation (or disinfomation), we do not rely on just 1 or 2 major sources, everyone can be a source of infomation!

This kindda reminded me of my first experience with "personal" news reporting. It was sept the 11th.... yes a terrible date... and yes it was the day of 9/11. I was just "trolling"(meaning to just surf around) a gaming forum I used to frequent, when a new thread poped up. "OMG Plane crashes into WTC" it said. This was just 5mins after the first plane hit the twin towers. It was faster then CNA(Channel news asia) in Singapore. Basically, I was reading a 1st hand witness account, not sure where the poster was located, probably in an apartment or office building that could see the whole thing. But every 5 mins there was a "live" update on what he/she saw was going on. That was my first experience with "citizen" reporters, not a nice incident to have that experience, but it definitely etched a deep impression into my brain.

Definitely the world is getting smaller not just in spreading of infomation (the passive internet has done that). But in the way we interact and live our lives. We can now maintain and build social networks with so many ways, be it blogs or websites like myspace. We can easily contact each other via MSN/IM, talk via Skype. Infomation is so readily avaliable on the internet(but not all are true). Even though I live in Philadelphia, I can get this feeling that sometimes, I have not left my friends in Singapore at all. WOW!!!

Ah well, just the rantings of a person who has too much time to think. 1hr+ train rides does give me lots of time to reflect not only on myself, but on the world. SEPTA, even though you do screw up like 40% of the time, and are late 60% of the other, but the train ride is something I really appreciate, it gives me time to stop, think and usually fall asleep.

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