Posted by: Mobile Kugel on Apr 20, 2011
The 18th April marked the first night of Passover. As it was my first one away from home, I decided to make some of my mom’s chicken soup and reflect on the world whilst nibbling on a dry piece of matzah.
The purpose of the Pesach Seder, besides eating lots of food, is to retell the story of how the Jews fled Egypt when we were once slaves to Pharaoh.
It is a beautiful tradition, one that brings family and friends together to tell this significant part of the Jews’ history.
On the topic of telling stories, I thought it would be nice to relay the story of the seven mass media’s using the framework of SMLXL, a creative firm.
Although it may seem like a history lesson, it really is a nice way to contextualise the frantic present we find ourselves in. Because believe it or not, WE once ruled technology, not the other way around.
First Mass Media
In the 14th Century there was the Bubonic Plague and the printing press. The former killed lots of people and the latter became the first mass media, offering those who didn’t die of the plague, access to information and knowledge produced mainly by the Church.
Bottom line: Whoever had the widest distribution got to tell the story.
Second Mass Media
Fast forward the centuries of Constantinople, long boat rides, Ottoman Turks, the rise of the West, lots of ugly portraits, Baroque, The General Crisis (Oy Gevalt, talk to me about general crisis’), the corset, syphilis, a number of revolutions, science, egotistical emperors who eventually get overthrown (morons), Slavery and Beethoven and we have our second mass media.
From the late 1800’s analogue recordings were made on clay records. More recently the 1960’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s brought to the world rock n roll, LSD, embarrassing movie posters and good music that was played on vinyl records. This radical change from the print medium meant a radical change for the audience.
Recordings brought entertainment to the masses who could listen to music and news from the comfort of their homes.
Third Mass Media
Cinema. A new way of enjoying and consuming mass media within a communal space was a hit. This was the first mass media that combined audio and moving visual pictures.
Weekly serials on TV were introduced, keeping audiences in wild anticipation to find out what happens to the hero who was left dangling off a cliff the week before.
Good books turned into movies and successful movies turned into books.
It is important to note that thus far, no single mass media had dislocated or disrupted another.
Fourth Mass Media
I can’t help but thinking of androgynous women’s fashion and the Great Gatsby when I think of the 1920’s. But what was also significant was the advent of radio; a media that required the audience to make an effort to tune in and listen.
Owning a radio was part of the mass consumption mentality that formed the basis of President Hoover’s campaign slogan, “a chicken in every pot a car in every garage”.
Before this, one could read a book or newspaper at any chosen time. We could listen to a recording when we wanted to and visit the cinema to re-watch movies that were still screening.
Radio, however, was presented in a specific time and space as it was streamed at certain times. If you missed the show it was gone forever.
Radio became a friend to the lonely and a voice of hope to a nation at war (please refer to the King’s Speech if you are not getting the reference).
It brought a wide range of news, a diversity of music and a platform to debate. It also changed the way corporates were able to communicate with their potential customers.
Radio held the potential to disseminate breaking news which was never possible in print because of the production timeline.
Finally, the radio formed a symbiotic relationship with top chart music hits. The two fuelled each other’s success.
Fifth Mass Media
It was as if cinema and radio had a baby during the sexual revolution of the 60’s and out popped television. By the 1970’s, TV had the biggest audience and was driven by advertising feeding the public with greedy consumerist ideals.
With multiple channel networks and satellite TV, audiences had more choice than ever.
Sixth Mass Media
The 1990’s managed to be embarrassing all around with curtain hair styles, Tamagotchi’s and sheep cloning. It was also the decade where us Spice Girl listening humans (don’t deny it) began to interact with the internet.
Media went from cold to hot. No longer was it a one way conversation. Web 2.0 fed our innate need to interact and participate with each other. Blogs, citizen journalism, social networking, gaming and peer to peer sharing radically changed the way we access information, communicate with each other and consume and produce our own media.
The internet disrupted everything.
Finally… our Seventh Mass Media
If the TV was a love child of radio and cinema than the Mobile was like an alien that had adopted all six of the previous mass media’s and more. There are some distinct characteristics that make mobile the newest, latest and most exciting mass media.
For starters, it is the first ‘personal’ mass media.
It is the first time any mass media has been (literally mobile) and can be carried around always.
It is the first media which has a built in payment mechanism.
The first media where the audience can be accurately defined.
It is the first media that can phone, email, browse internet, play games, watch movies, participate in social media networks, generate content and post it online, download a range of applications and listen to music.
For some people like my great Aunty Rochca (who makes amazing teiglach by the way) the mobile may be as bad as the Bubonic Plague, killing hundreds of brain cells a day. But for most of us, the mobile has changed the way we communicate and live our lives.