April 1, 1997

Smog alert

Testing. Testing. Is this thing on?

Sorry, publishing this on-line diary via the Finger protocol is a total pain in the ass. Someone should invent an application to simplify the process. They'd probably make a fortune.

Anyway, I'm writing today because David has a new book out called Data Smog, which makes some interesting claims about the societal implications of the Infobahn. If nothing else, I'm glad he finally got that Grateful Dead nonsense out of his system.

David's a smart guy and I think he's onto something here. I wouldn't be surprised if his theories about how the brain can be overloaded by information are eventually backed up by, say, magnetic resonance imaging. But as a journalist (The New York Press counts as journalism, right?) I can't quite accept his thesis, in a chapter called "The End of Journalism," that skeptical reporting will soon be supplanted by slick pseudojournalistic advertising campaigns. The premise depends on there being a class of passive consumers, when the World Wide Web seems to be producing exactly the opposite. Why, for instance, doesn't David mention my important work here, or at least imitators such as Justin's Links From the Underground and Blue's News, all of which show that regularly updated journals can be used to comment on, engage with and offer an alternative to professionally produced media. Interactivity seems to be the hallmark of what might be called the new "Web 1.1" era.

Perhaps the oversight is due largely to the failure of online diarists to properly brand this new form of communication. A thing needs a name to get noticed. If only e-onliary had caught on!

Posted by Daniel Radosh

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