First Slow Media, Slow Communication, Slow Reading… now Slow News and Slow Blogging?
"A world of too much data, too many choices, too many possibilities and too little time is forcing us to decide what we really value," Arianna Huffington writes in a recent post. "And, more and more, people and innovative companies are recognizing that we actually have a life beyond our gadgets."
It's telling–and no, not ironic–that a blogging behemoth like the Huffington Post recognizes the "longing to disconnect" from our "hyperconnected lives." Arianna suggests that an iPhone feature called Do Not Disturb designed to get you off your iPhone (?!) might offer some relief. (I'm a fan of just hitting the off button, myself…)
To give all props where due, let's also note that Politics Daily correspondent Walter Shapiro wrote an article a couple of years ago calling for a "Slow News Movement" as a "form of reader rebellion." Shapiro argues that meaning and context suffer in our faster-faster media culture, where people don't really have time to contemplate the information thrown at them.
"The news of government, politics and the world is too important to be instantly consumed like a shopaholic racing through a mall," he says. "Our democracy simply cannot survive if we fail to see the forest for the tweets."
Shapiro, who also clued me in to a hitherto-unfamiliar Slow Blogging proposal from Ruth Marcus at the Washington Post, concludes by asking readers if they really understand the world better by getting their news constantly in brief staccato bursts than they did 10 or 15 years ago, when news (even on cable TV) was packaged by editors.
So, do you?
Photo courtesy of Tea Tree Gully Library. It's a city in South Australia, the undisputed land of Slow Media lovers.
Despite having access to blogs and knowing how to use them, people — even young ones — still like to make publications by hand. This according to a recent NY Times article re-titled "Raised on the Web, but Liking a Litte Ink" by Jenna Wortham (mentioned in the previous blog post), who also reports creating her own zines with friends.
Since the dawn of blogging almost a decade ago, there's been a print renaissance, experts said. “We’re seeing a flowering of print,” a librarian specializing in periodicals told Wortham. “People are drawn to the experiences of creating and collecting these physical objects."
A 23-year-old pseudonymous blogger — whom Wortham describes as "prominent" — said that he recently began publishing a zine because “It’s satisfying to produce something that people can hold and treasure and value partially for its physicality instead of something that gradually disappears (…) In 2011, it feels like a rare pleasure to hold up a bunch of pieces of paper that are bound together and read them, instead of reading off a screen.”
Amen to that.
(If anonymity has piqued your curiosity, click here for a story in Fast Company about Mr. Mystery's zine launch.)
Somehow, people have gotten the idea that I hate digital media. I'm not exactly sure how this happened. Maybe it's because I write a blog about digital disenchantment. Maybe it's because I teach a class questioning the inflated role of communication technologies in our culture. Maybe it's because they heard my interview with Sally Herships on NPR about how I'm fostering a movement that encourages people to re-value offline media and get disconnected more.
For the record: I think the Internet is pretty neat. I remember the moment a few years ago when I looked at Google Earth for the first time, and felt dizzy. I just had fun launching a new website-slash-business-card. I did a video chat via Skype with my boyfriend the other night, and it was way cool. I'm even into online shopping, and e-banking, and streaming videos from Netflix and Hulu and YouTube, and all that jive.
Plus, I'm sort of addicted to this blog of mine. I have good discipline
and a busy life, so I spend most of my time doing things offline. But
if I were getting paid (conditional contrary to fact) to write about
Slow Media, I would totally love doing this every day.
Especially since one of my dearest friends just sold everything she owned and moved to Paris, I realize that we're lucky to have digital technology now for staying in contact. I lived in the south of France for a while in the 1980s and was really lonely, being completely out of touch with all my friends and family for long stretches. I also lived in Beijing for a while in the 1990s, and although there was an Internet, it was really slow (especially in China at that time) and phone calls back to the States cost $3… per minute. Living abroad must be easier now with e-mail, Skype, blogs, online photo sharing, iPhones, etc.
So don't think I'm hating on new communication technologies. They're super! I just think it's healthy to disconnect once in a while, to keep a good online-offline balance, and to be conscientious about the burdens that accompany these blessings and the analog losses entailed by digital gains.