The exceptionally interesting case study of OK Go!
By now, you've most likely seen this music video. It's quite a cool interpretation of a Rube Goldberg machine.
A couple weeks back, I first saw this at about 8:30a.m. in my work email from a friend on the east coast. Bastards have a 3 hour head start. Then it showed up in my Twitter feed reader posted by a friend. I then saw it there again. And again. And again. And yet again. Then it was sent around to the youth of the office (No idea how I was included) so back in my work email. Again. Then I saw it on the Huffington Post and Fast Company websites. Then it got buzzed up in my Google Buzz which was reading the same Twitter feed I'd already seen earlier.
OK, so what's the point? Most likely, my parents still hadn't seen this video. Unless it makes it onto The Rachel Maddow show or The Daily Show, they probably wouldn't.
So what's the other point? With the rise of internet driven communication, there is a huge splintering of media. Twitter, Facebook, Email, Google Buzz, Google Wave, My Space, and on and on and on. These are just the biggies. The fractionalization of media is causing audiences to get smaller. We can't all pay attention to all the channels (and I don't just mean TV and radio) that we used to. As a result, there are fewer of those epic, big common experiences that bind us together. There are fewer and fewer things that are so epically big, or at least epically experienced, we all can mark it in the timelines we're living. Landing on the moon for example. Sadly, it seems those markers have become tragedies in order to be big enough for all of us to pay attention. 9-11. Earthquakes being the latest example. It used to be that everyone knew Johnny Carson's skits by heart. Everyone knew his sidekick's laugh. And his name (Ed McMahon, just in case).
This splinter effect is making it easier for those who wish to divide and conquer to do just that. As we focus more and more on the media we like, it often tends to be the media we agree with. As a result, our greatest hopes and greatest fears are reinforced and thus become turbo-charged. It seems like our greatest fears are being repeated everywhere. The balance gets lost. Also, as the common experiences get fewer and far between, there's less and less common ground on which to build cohesion, understanding and community.
So, how does all this relate to the music video by OK Go? It relates because this video is an exceptional case study in the strengths and weaknesses of Internet driven communication. And thus, Internet driven living. The video got to me quickly. And repeatedly. But it did not get to me from a source that was either unexpected or shared with the masses. By that I mean the mass masses, not just the Twitterverse. Also, there was a bit of generation gap. One that will close as the Internet generation grows up, but my guess is the trouble my parents have with computers, cell phones and iPods today will be the troubles I have with the Internet of the future.
All that said, as my parents are pretty much the only ones who read this blog, they've now seen the video. Eventually anyway.
P.S. By the way, seven days after the first viewing of the video, it's brought up by a client during a presentation. Eight days later, it's being shown in the office to the creative director and a few folks who hadn't seen it. Odd.
P.P.S. The irony of posting this on a blog is not lost on me.