media and the election

After an election that was dominated by new media (blogs, youtube, twitter), the end turned out to demand the old media.

We watched the results come in on television, and our guests nearly rioted when at one point T revealed that we were actually ten minutes behind live thanks to TiVo and channel switching.  I had my laptop on, and occasionally looked over to check things like which counties had reported in the states that had only partial results, but the focus was definitely on the big screen. 

And then, yesterday, it seems like everyone wanted a newspaper, the dead tree kind, to hold in their hands and put away in the closet.  Papers all over the country sold out, and people were lined up waiting for the special editions to come out.

When I drained the battery on the car last week, I set off the anti-theft device on the audio system, so I can’t listen to the radio until we manage to get to a dealer.  Listening to the previous day’s podcast works ok for Planet Money and This American Life, less well for the more newsy shows.*

*It’s almost like having a TiVo for the radio.

3 Responses to “media and the election”

  1. jen Says:

    It’s true — you can’t exactly keep a commemorative copy of a twitter.
    I sometimes wonder what modern electronic communications will do to the study of history. Many’s the time I’ve read a history text that places great emphasis on primary sources such as correspondence — paper letters. Or think about the impact of the paperwork showing when Anne Frank’s family was shipped to Auschwitz. (Sept. 3, 1944) This stuff is impactful, and it often survives simply because the paper is so small and durable.
    Ten years from now, a historian wishing to patch together this election based on personal or workaday communications would have a tough row to hoe: most of these e-mail and database applications can’t be cracked open at all unless you have a very complex set of hardware and software at your disposal. Anyone who’s ever tried to restore a decommissioned system (perhaps to retrieve records required for litigation) knows that it can take months, and that’s when the system is only a few years old.
    I wonder what happens these days to a news source that delivers its news online, and then goes under? Is that content lost forever? That actually seems like a big loss.

  2. amy Says:

    Depends. A fair amount of content’s ended up in the Wayback Machine. However, consider what a serious economic crisis can do to server maintenance. The moral? If you want something, print it out. Which is fair enough — I don’t think anyone ever touted the internet as a serious archival medium. Although I suppose you could say all the electrons are acid-free. Ar ar ar.

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