Instant Soup of Thoughtful

20127591Before there were news sources like cable news, Twitter and the Internet, we had TV network news and print newspapers keeping us informed. I’d categorize the current and former as short form and long form news.

Twitter has distilled news and sound bytes to 140 characters. Cable news has shrunk it to a 30 second headline and story that repeats every 30 minutes. TV network news and the Internet still retain longer form story lines and exposition that give depth, breadth and context to a story. Unfortunately, the trend is toward short-form online news, and print newspapers are finding it hard to monetize their operations. In fact, folks like me are scanning the headlines of hundreds of news feeds a day as a way of staying in touch with various subjects important to my business and personal interest.

Experts predict that print newspapers will cease to exist as we know them. I’m sure the NY Times will still be around for a Sunday morning read, but a majority of small papers, might die for lack of advertising. Remember what happened to local news when Clearchannel bought your local radio station? The same might happen. Will that also mean the end of long form news?

My friend, Alexander Van Elsas, explores the immediacy of news in his blog and asks the right questions: “What if everything becomes immediate. What if the news is there right now, delivered faster than the blink of an eye. What if we all can have 24×7 contact and interaction. What if the “instant” has become part of the plumbing of the Internet? If “instant” becomes the norm, then it will decline in value. If everyone has instant access to the same information, the act itself becomes less valuable.”

I don’t have as much of a problem with the need for instant everything as much I do with the absence of story exposition. If all we have time for is instant and short form information bursts become news, will we lose depth of thought? Yes, books will always fill the void. But I want more than the drone of cable news and 140 character riffs on Twitter.

If newspapers disappear and we opt for instant on, I do hope the Internet accommodates deep thought in meaningful ways and that we make the time for it.

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