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50 Things Killed by the Internet

Matthew Moore marks the 40th anniversary of the Internet with a list of “50 things that are being killed by the internet.” My favorites:

1) The art of polite disagreement
While the inane spats of YouTube commencers may not be representative, the internet has certainly sharpened the tone of debate. The most raucous sections of the blogworld seem incapable of accepting sincerely held differences of opinion; all opponents must have “agendas”.

Because I make a living writing things on the Internet, I’m especially aware of this. There’s no matter sufficiently trivial that it can’t spark a nasty flame war.

2) Fear that you are the only person unmoved by a celebrity’s death
Twitter has become a clearing-house for jokes about dead famous people. Tasteless, but an antidote to the “fans in mourning” mawkishness that otherwise predominates.

Both a good and a bad thing, as Moore suggests. While some respect for the recently departed’s loved ones is nice, the Internet is a welcome alternative to the hagiographies of the weird but famous to which we’re otherwise treated.

3) Listening to an album all the way through
The single is one of the unlikely beneficiaries of the internet — a development which can be looked at in two ways. There’s no longer any need to endure eight tracks of filler for a couple of decent tunes, but will “album albums” like Radiohead’s Amnesiac get the widespread hearing they deserve?

I owned hundreds of cassette tapes and probably still have 300-odd CDs. I rarely listen to them anymore and haven’t bought a new album in perhaps a decade.

17) Watching television together
On-demand television, from the iPlayer in Britain to Hulu in the US, allows relatives and colleagues to watch the same programmes at different times, undermining what had been one of the medium’s most attractive cultural appeals — the shared experience. Appointment-to-view television, if it exists at all, seems confined to sport and live reality shows.

As I’ve noted previously, I tend to watch non-sports and news programming well out of phase, often catching them a year or two after they’ve gotten going and sometimes waiting until the entire run is complete. When I saw the bold headline, though, I thought he was going somewhere else: The fact that having a notebook computer in the living room often means that we’re looking something up and only half paying attention to the television, much less others in the room.

50) Your lunchbreak
Did you leave your desk today? Or snaffle a sandwich while sending a few personal emails and checking the price of a week in Istanbul?

I’m quite guilty of this. Even when I “go out” for lunch, I usually grab something to eat in front of my computer.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. G.A.Phillips says:

    Because I make a living writing things on the Internet, I’m especially aware of this. There’s no matter sufficiently trivial that it can’t spark a nasty flame war.

    You mean they pay you for baby sitting us, nice.

    I think it’s because we all start out as little girls in the womb,and most of us being men,here at OTB anyhue, can’t help but let it out when it seems no one is watching.

    Conclusion: We are flamers, and we are born that way.

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  2. Michael says:

    You mean they pay you for baby sitting us, nice.

    I think it’s because we all start out as little girls in the womb,and most of us being men,here at OTB anyhue, can’t help but let it out when it seems no one is watching.

    Conclusion: We are flamers, and we are born that way.

    Who are you, and what have you done with our troll?

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  3. sam says:

    Dunno if for-pay porn is dead yet, but the LA Times ran a story about trouble in the industry. One “producer” said, of the internet, something like “It never occurred to us that people would do this stuff for free and post it online.”

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  4. [...] who listens to entire music albums? [...]

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  5. G.A,Phillips says:

    Who are you, and what have you done with our troll?

    HeHe…

    Conclusion: We are flamers, and we are born that way.

    Would you believe it’s me, If I tell you I think it’s because of the curse?

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  6. Steve Skubinna says:

    “Watching TV together”

    I believe Marshall McLuhan made the point that there’s really no such thing as communal TV watching. He characterized TV as a hot medium, in that the viewer needed to bring little if anything to the experience. Therefore a roomful of people watching the same show were not sharing anything, but each one was having an individual experience.

    Like much of what McLuhan wrote, there are holes to pick in the argument – for example, how does a Superbowl party fit this theory? However, I think in general he had it right.

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