Monday, May 09, 2005

The Democratization of the Media

The BAttle of New Orleans was fought on January 8, 1815. It was the last battle of the War of 1812. It was a unique battle, because it was fought AFTER the war was over! The War of 1812 officially ended in December, 1814. But it took a few weeks to get the word out to British and American troops to let them know.

In 1864, in an effort to hurry up and become a state, Nevada telegraphed its Constitution to President Lincoln (modern technology for its day) and it probably took a day or two to type it all in and transmit it. To this day, Nevada is the only state that had its constitution submitted this way.

In 1876, the telephone was invented and about the same time the phonograph and electric lighting. President Benjamin Harrison was the first President ot have electricity in the White House, but both he and his wife were afraid to touch the switch for fear of being electrocuted, so they continued to use candlelight.

Chester A. Arthur was the first Preident to have a phone in the White House as well as heated water.

In the 1890s, the player piano was the rage and of course, music producers tried suing them for copyright infringement.

Radio came on the scene during the Roaring 20s and Cal Coolidge was the first President to give a nationwide radio address.

TV had its first broadcast in 1941 in Britain and a few years later in the US. Harry Truman was the first President to give a nationwide television address. At the same time, science fiction like computers came on the scene, including a Sperry Univac that filled an entire room, but had as much power as a Commodore 64. In 1948, it 'calculated' that Truman would win, but newspapers had the banner headline of "DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN". Even today, we think 'the computer is always right'.

Meanwhile, the music industry evolved into 78 rpm. My mom had a few of these. They weren't black, but blue and yellow. Then came 33 rpm, then 45 rpm.

I wasn't always the first on my block to have the latest in hi tech. We didn't get color TV until 1971. Friends had it first, but we had quite a few black and white TVs. My first color broadcast was "Lost In Space" in 1966. We watched the moon landing in 1969 on the neighbor's color set, but it was in black and white.

I completely ignored audiocassettes and 8 tracks. I got intrigued by CDs, but waited for them to get the bugs out. I didn't get my first VCR until the mid 80s.

But I was one of the first on my block to have a home computer. There was no PC industry back then. My first PC was a Commodore 64 in 1983 and I was mesmerized by Apple's now famous '1984' commercial that intoduced the Mac. A friend had a 128K Mac but I waited for the Fat Mac in 1984. Since then, I've had a Mac Quadra 605, a Mac G4 laptop and when I was working for my last employer, which was a 'Microsoft only' shop, I had to buy a Windoze laptop in order to log in from home, since the company didn't support Macs (I still have the G4 and still use it as a home finance and rolodex.

I was a member of the Boston Computer Society back when 'computers programming' was done by hobbyists sharing code. No Internet back then, although as a Cold War invention, was developed for the military in case DC got nuked and the rest of the country could still function. At the end of the Cold War in 1989, it was turned over to private hands, where development was swift. I was first exposed to the Internet when I was working at the Nevada Test Site in 1992. My first browser was 'Mozilla/Mosaic' developed in Europe.

The rapid technological change has led to the democratization of the 'media' in the sense that people have started blogging around 1995 and started posting anything and everything about anything and everything, including their opinions on current events.

One thing I don't like about watching Cable News talk shows is the fact that the panelists are mostly guys in suits, have jobs and health care and they sit there and tell you how good the economy is. You seldom get opinions from 'the rest of us' when it comes to how does the economy really affect the middle class. Is it really that good or is it a pipedream?

The first blogs hit the airwaves in 1995. Now thanks to the popularity of Apple's Ipod (way to go Apple - the most creative company out there) 'talk radio' has een democratized as well. Rush Limbaugh made a name for himself by calling for jail time for drug abusers - until he bacame one.

So 'Podcasts' are the newest big thing - blogs put to music. I have became aware of them by reading an article about them in Parade Magazine and began exploring them by visting click on any highlighted date in the claendar and it will bring you to the podcasts that were created on that day. I have downloaded there Ipodder collector, but haven't used it yet, as I have been downloading them manually and synching my Ipod with them. This way I don't waste time while walking around. Over time, I'm sure Podcasting will become as easy to do as blogging. When I was in college I was involved with the Concert Series and the radio station. I'd love to start doing my own radio shows. I am currently checking out the cost of the production of such a show.

One of the best shows so far is Blogosphere Radio a rather well done college radio show from somewhere in Canada, Alberta I think. They offer the latest in Podcasting news as well as tips, conferences, interviews, etc. I am also checking out a few others and when I hit a good one, will pass it on.

I may start my own news organization, the People's Information Group (PIG) network.


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