Media matters: Alone Together @ TED, fear in the attention economy, Chomsky tweets and more

  • I recently came across this Salon article by UMD doctoral student Nathan Jurgenson from last year where he argues that Noam Chomsky is wrong about Twitter. Both Chomsky’s and the author’s statements about new media forms are extremely interesting from a medium theory perspective. Jurgenson cites the role of social media in the Arab Spring protests as evidence that new media aren’t as shallow and superficial as Chomsky believes:

In fact, in the debate about whether rapid and social media really are inherently less deep than other media, there are compelling arguments for and against. Yes, any individual tweet might be superficial, but a stream of tweets from a political confrontation like Tahrir Square, a war zone like Gaza or a list of carefully-selected thinkers makes for a collection of expression that is anything but shallow. Social media is like radio: It all depends on how you tune it.

In responding to calls, emails, texts, social media, etc, our electronic devices play to a primitive impulse to react to immediate threats and dangers.  Our responding to that call, email or social media post provokes excitement and stimulates the release of dopamine to the brain.  Little by little, we become addicted to its small kick in regular, minute doses.  In its absence, people feel bored.

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