About

About me: I work in business development for TurnHere, an online video production and distribution company based in the San Francisco Bay Area. I was once called the worst audience participant Cirque du Soleil ever had.

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About this About Page: This is the part where I launch into a big, grandiose speech that has no place on a blog or perhaps even in an institute of higher learning. Any use of words such as “ergo”, “therefore”, and “hence” should be regarded as momentary departures from sanity and the result of the author breathing in too many noxious chemicals, which are so prevalent in today’s atmosphere what with our growing dependence on fossil fuels and (potentially toxic) polymers and such. All previous uses of the word “grandiose” should also be forgiven:

Ezra Pound, the American poet and an engine of Modernism, once declared that it was the purpose of the artist to “make it new”. In his early essay titled “How I Began”, he writes that anything that “is not a beginning, an invention, a discovery is of little worth.”

Pound’s statements rang true then in the early Twentieth Century, and they continue to resonate in the media climate of the Twenty-first. How this phrase, “make it new”, pertains to media today is the subject of this blog.

More precisely, I want to talk about how we can reconcile the many pieces of our fragmented and changing media world. As consumers we’ve become quick to apply the terms “New” and “Emerging” to forms of online, digital and interactive communications, while we blindly (and sometimes derisively) pin words like “Old” or “Traditional” to print, TV and radio. These memes are commonplace now and, quite frankly, oversimplify the situation by suggesting that the media of today bear little relation to the media of last year. Raised on Hollywood and classic Western storytelling, we crave this narrative of good versus bad, old versus new, the Web versus … pretty much everything else. Let’s face it, things are just easier to grasp that way.

In reality, of course, even Shakespeare wasn’t that Shakespearian. We should think of New Media as being in a dynamic – not a conflict – with the Old. This framework is essential to creating meaningful, relevant media that serve our interest as consumers and as complex, emotive, thinking individuals.

The path to improvement begins by updating our mode of thought. We need to adopt the notion that even a printed newspaper can be “emerging” and a morning radio program can be “new”. In fact, anyone who spends the majority of the week working in one of these mediums needs to find a way to “make it new” in order to remain viable. Consumers today spend half their media time on the Web, which empowers them with control over content and conversation. Companies that wish to capitalize on this ongoing shift toward online must look closely at their current platforms and content strategies and ask themselves how they can adapt them to an increasingly digital environment. This doesn’t require abandoning our media heritage so much as it mandates a paradigm shift in the way we value it. We’ve robed our newspapers in nostalgias so heavy we’ve made these organizations sluggish and incapable of change. We employ outdated forms of advertising that deny the basic fact of media today: that the consumer is at the center of all information exchanges, not the bottom. Furthermore, the institutions that once channeled, delivered and filtered most of our information have become peripheral entities, if they’re even part of the picture at all. It’s not that we need to torch the figures of our past; we simply need not to cling to them so desperately, like frightened children. On the whole I can only believe that the evolution of media presents consumers, organizations, governments and corporations with tremendous opportunity. If the purpose of a free press and a robust media culture is to spread knowledge to as many individuals as possible, then I can think of nothing more important right now than embracing forms of online and digital communications that have practically made the exchange of knowledge a commodity. This commodity, when used correctly, can equip more individuals than ever before to strive for a more open and egalitarian society.

At the same time, New Media will only succeed if it can make an accord with our traditions. T.S. Eliot said, “No poet, no artist of any art, has his complete meaning alone.” The same can be said of media today. Improving media means enriching its traditional forms, rather than casting those forms aside. Newspapers need to stop acting like the gray-bearded elder statesmen of media, but more New Media content providers, marketers and developers need to start thinking about how they can leverage these traditional platforms to strengthen their growing businesses. Will print magazines die, or will print remain on as magazines’ secondary representation in a primarily digital world? Does online video mean the demise of TV, or rather the emergence of a truly connected, interactive viewing experience that shatters the distinctions between TV and PC altogether? Can a world that moves at Twitter speed make time for poetry and literature? Or do these forms simply need to be tricked out with nitro-boosters to keep up? Ultimately the success of New Media won’t come from spurning the old types, but from posing questions that seek a peace between our traditions and our imaginations. As consumers I think we gravitate toward successful integrations of old and new, if for no other reason than they are simply more interesting than old or new alone. One of my goals in this blog will be to explore this liminal zone where different media interlock. I think most people feel pulled to this zone not out of sentimentality for the past and geeky obsession with the future, but out of consideration for the media as a total being that is singular, holistic and continuous.

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