â€œWith every revolution, from wood to coal, from coal to oil and now from oil to the renewables, profits have increased. Thatâ€™s just the way the world is. I would like to see business people rewarded for doing the right thing.â€
Tim Flannery, scientist, author of ‘The Future Eaters’, quoted in the Financial Times.
The Changing Shape of News
Although the Tim Flannery quote above is directed at climate change and big business, pointing out the opportunities with renewable energy, it applies neatly to the shifting news environment too. There’s currently a lot of panic about the health of newspapers, as exemplified by the recent piece by media theorist Clay Shirky, whose argument can be summed up with two lines from it :
“Society doesnâ€™t need newspapers. What we need is journalism,” and
â€œHereâ€™s how weâ€™re going to preserve the old forms of organization in a world of cheap perfect copies!â€ ( the newspaper industry have seen the internet coming, but their plans were inevitably flawed as they chose not to face various technological and social realities ).
The opportunity is in how the need for journalism and news is harnessed, regardless of media format, and a good example of how blurred things are getting is ‘Newspaper Video : Will It Survive?‘, an article discussing the merits of newspapers producing video and visual material for their online sections. Elsewhere on the Endangered Charts?
What’s Happening With Those Bees?
The ones that are propping up our food chain, and were recently thought to be in danger of being wiped out in large numbers? The greatest development seems to be that there is now a name for what is happening to them, though the jury is still out on understanding why it is actually happening. Colony Collapse Disorder describes the mass die-off of beehives which has been happening lots in the last two years, particularly in North America ( 1/3 of commerical U.S. beehives suffered CCD in 2008), and there are a large range of possible culprits : pesticides, environmental changes, disease, predators, infestation, stress, and radiation from phone towers ( or any combination of the above). Modern life is rubbish apparently, as Don De Lillo covered a while back in his White Noise novel, a Professor of Hitler Studies living in a small town, observing his kids school having to temporarily close down because of allergies to one or a combination of a huge range of chemicals involved in the school building’s construction, and the town itself being menaced by an ‘Airborne Toxic Event’, a floating pollution cloud of unknown toxins and origin.
And while on the literary thing, I’ve been meaning to plug these cats a while… Although their site stands up all by itself very well, thank you very much, ( see their regularly published reviews such as THE WRESTLER: A CINEMATIC ANALYSIS IN A 1989 VOLVO STATION WAGON 240 DL ), McSweeney’s Journal is a print beast which can arrive in your letterbox every few months, jamming together a motley crue of contemporary writers, the juxtaposition of each writer’s world likely to leave your head spinning fondly. They also dabble in DVD compilations of filmic esoterica ( see Wholphin, so named after a mythical dolphin-whale hybrid ). It should also be noted, that this whole enterprise was started by Dave Eggers, a decent author and screenwriter in his own right, who more recently has branched out into non-profit writing centres to help young people : see http://www.826valencia.org, which typically are set-up as super-hero accessory shops or as San Francisco’s “only independent pirate supply store” ( the latter being done to avoid some kind of zoning law problems ).
In Other News
– The Resolume folk have developed a new video codec for super-fast HD playback ( uses the GPU, only works on their software though).
– State Priorities? Victoria wanted Tiger Woods ( and got him for a golf tournament). NSW chased Brian Eno instead, to lead a new Sydney Festival ( yes, generative art on the Opera House exterior ).
– 137 Gb of BBC documentaries await you. ( Best be using a torrent application that let’s you select which files to download ) via VJ nosis.
– The Obamas are planting a vegetable garden at the White House. No word on their Hemp For Victory plantation yet though.