Michelle Sullivan Communications

The Internet and social media: a modern day steam engine?

I took advantage of a recent visit to Quebec City to check out the fine arts museum’s newest exhibit, Paintings from the Reign of Victoria. Mostly landscapes, so not really my cup of tea, but William Powell Frith’s 1862 painting ‘The Railway Station’ caught my eye, not only because of its composition, which is pretty interesting, but because of a quote from a contemporary London News art critic recorded in the curatorial comments of the painting’s identification card:

The iron rails are welded into every life-history … The steam engine is the incarnate spirit of the age — a good genius to many, an evil demon to some.

Naturally, with my 2.0/2.0 vision, I made the leap to the Internet and social media.

Like the steam engine described by the critic from the London News, the Internet in general and social media in particular is not only considered good or evil depending on your point of view, but brings people together, allowing them to ‘travel’ over distances never before accessible to most people. Like the steam engine, the Internet/social media is fast, easy, accessible and ‘transports’ people and products … or at least facilitates it. The social impact in both cases  is unmistakable.

The steam engine was the symbol of the industrial age. The Internet and all of its components .. including social media .. are certainly the symbol of what we’ve come to  call the Information Age, and what some are now calling the Attention Age.

We live in fascinating times.

150 years from now, when someone in a museum leans over to read the identification card next to the work of a net artist like Olia Lialina — presuming identification cards … or museums for that matter … still exist as we know them now — what will their equivalent of 2.0/2.0 vision look like, I wonder?

Article of the Day : Internet grips Canadians

Although my head is still firmly planted in my sister’s moving boxes, I do manage to come up for air long enough to catch the day’s news. This article in today’s Windsor Star (CanWest online) caught my eye :

OTTAWA – An increasing number of Canadians are subscribing to high-speed Internet and companies are doubling their advertising efforts on new media platforms.

Although Canadians are watching less TV and listening to fewer hours of radio programming, operators in those sectors are squeezing more sales out of their businesses.

The annual broadcasting industry report prepared by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission for 2006 suggests more Canadians — most notably those aged 18 to 24 — are turning to their cellphones and iPods for broadcast programming.

The study found that, in 2006, the number of Canadians who used the Internet for broadcasting services increased slightly. Roughly six per cent of Canadians started watching TV over the Internet last year, the study indicated, compared with no one doing that in the CRTC’s 2005 analysis.

The CRTC study suggested the types of programming being viewed over the Internet breakdown as follows : TV shows, 40 per cent; news, 38 per cent; music videos, 21 per cent; movies, 20 per cent; weather, 10 per cent; and comedy, 10 per cent.

Moreover, Canadian households with Internet access climbed to 70 per cent from 64.

Advertisers appeared to have noticed and have almost doubled their spending on online marketing, to $1 billion last year from $562 million in the year-ago period, an 80 per cent hike.

As for the conventional sectors, Canadians watched on average 27.6 hours of TV per week in 2006, slightly under the 28.1 hours in 2005. Revenue for TV operators still increased almost eight per cent., mostly from pay-TV, pay-per-view and video-on-demand services.

source : http://www.canada.com/components/print.aspx?id=df5cfa74-9b30-4f67-a574-0682e87a12cc&k=10013

What’s that I hear? Could it be the raucous sound of podcasters everywhere rejoicing?