I feel like I'm trying to drink from an information firehose describing world events. With four news networks (CNN, CNN headline news, MSNBC, and Fox News) to choose from, plus long hours of coverage from the three major American networks (CBS, ABC, and NBC), turning on the TV creates a deluge of news and information into my living room. It is hard for me to swallow it all at one sitting.
At the same time, it is also... stale and self-referring. It is not a crucible that burns away impurity; it is a conflagration that takes hard information and consumes it, leaving only ashes. I speak of the large full color maps, the swooping computer graphics, the grainy live satellite footage, and the inevitable sea of experts - retired military, Ph.D's, and foreign policy experts that provide opinion after opinion after OPINION. They are like great herbivores chewing and re-chewing bits of information in an attempt to fill hours of air time.
But alas, you cannot program war like you program other television. Conflict, like all fundamental human relations, demonstrates the characteristics of non-linear dynamics; it is prone to long periods of elaborate boredom, punctuated by moments of terrifying clarity and action. As such, I feel that you cannot say "schedule three hours this afternoon, a lot of important events will happen then". Instead, I see how events are spun and re-spun over hours where succinct minutes might suffice. Experts first talk to policy makers and people in the field, then only experts speak for others, and eventually commentators speak for experts. It is an important and inevitable process to understand, but, it is one that don't always want to see.
For all my technological pretensions, I am a Luddite in many ways. Unlike so many other people, I'm more of a newspaper reader. Although the immediacy of television can be a beautiful thing, I prefer to take my news in small, digestable helpings. I like to think that newspapers offer a brief pause for a breath and a moment of reflection before directing information my way. Yes, they may be slightly out of date... but I find television to be too fast, and too repetitive for many things.
on 2003-03-23 at 9:52 p.m.
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