Concerns About Selective Technology

New research from Edison Media shows that television (broadcast, cable, satellite, premium) and the Internet are the most essential media to respondents’ lives in 2007. Both radio and newspapers declined between the current survey and one conducted in 2002. According to an eMarketer article, Larry Rosin of Edison Media Research said, “it is not a stretch to say that the Internet has become just as important as television as an important source of information and entertainment in the lives of Americans.” Consumers are using the Internet and television more than in 2002. In the meantime, Veronis Suhler Stevenson reports that U.S. consumers have increased their total media time by 5 percent in the same period.

It seems to me that these trends reflect the reality of new technology. The New York Times media columnist David Carr has often written about the good old days, which I have assumed means when newspapers were read by everyone and journalists had a larger market. In this week’s column, he decries the fact that in the small upstate N.Y. village of Corinth all the businesses and town folk have adopted new technology. Some people probably use the Yellow Pages, while others prefer local search. At any rate, his basic point seems to be that it is too bad there’s nowhere you can go to get away from technology these days. I’m sure he noticed that other stories on the front page of Monday’s NYT Business Section were titled “Chasing the iPhone,” “Xbox Offers a Forum to Reach Gamers Where They Live” and “Apple Faces a Rebellion Over iTunes.” My guess is that the people of Corinth, N.Y., are interested in these articles.

A new book by Andrew Keen, “The Cult of the Amateur: How Today’s Internet is Killing our Culture,” is designed to appeal to the David Carrs of the world by its strongly negative views against the Web and new technology. In particular, Mr. Keen believes that we require editors, professional journalists and organized news companies to provide thoughtful, effective and analytical reporting. He believes we can’t trust any information from this new amateur media.

I would not want to live in either Mr. Keen’s or Mr. Carr’s worlds. If I want to get away from technology, I can take a hike or go sit at the beach and just leave my iPod, cellphone and even my watch back home. It is my view that we cannot be selective about the technology that is available today. Compared with when I was growing up, cars are safer, there is exploration of both the sea and space, and communication has allowed us to know what is going on throughout the world as it occurs. With all its faults, health care has improved dramatically. The scarce resources are time and money, and people should have the option to use them as they choose. Today a growing number of people are selecting high definition television and broadband Internet.

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