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Summary:

The Me in Media started, not with TiVo or weblogs, but with the remote control, argues Christine Rosen in her fantastic essay, The Age of Egocasting. As consumers, we expect our television, our music, our movies, and our books “on demand.” We have created and embraced […]

The Me in Media started, not with TiVo or weblogs, but with the remote control, argues Christine Rosen in her fantastic essay, The Age of Egocasting.

As consumers, we expect our television, our music, our movies, and our books “on demand.” We have created and embraced technologies that enable us to make a fetish of our preferences.

Now as most of us who debate and deliberate about this customization, might think of it as empowerment of the individual, in reality, Rosen thinks we are losing some of the joys of consuming the very same media. The biggest one being, surprise.

By giving us the illusion of perfect control, these technologies risk making us incapable of ever being surprised. They encourage not the cultivation of taste, but the numbing repetition of fetish. And they contribute to what might be called “egocasting,” the thoroughly personalized and extremely narrow pursuit of one’s personal taste.

She points out very eloquently, like all the egocasting devices, the original purpose of the remote control was to tune out those annoying commercials. Ironic, isn’t it that the PVR was based on the same premise, and if TiVo’s commercial casting antics are any indication, then perhaps we will continue to grapple with the same problem. Rosen also points out that it was 1956 when the remote control was invented but it wasn’t till 1985 when it became a routine accessory for all televisions. 29 years. Now that’s a long time in Silicon Valley. It is also a cautionary stat, because it tells you how long big ideas, like remote, VCR or DVRs and in the future, the concept of exploding TV will take to proliferate and propagate amongst the masses.

Only a small minority of homes currently own DVRs—about four percent, according to marketing research firm Knowledge Networks. As Advertising Age recently noted, this means that “more homes in the U.S. have outhouses” than these devices.

She finds the same me-power the main reason behind the feverish devotion to IPod and what it has done to change our music listening patterns.

TiVo, iPod, and other technologies of personalization are conditioning us to be the kind of consumers who are, as Joseph Wood Krutch warned long ago, “incapable of anything except habit and prejudice,” with our needs always preemptively satisfied.

Read The Age of Ego Casting/ New Atlantic

  1. Broadband begets EgoCasting

    Om Malik on Broadband. The Me in Media started, not with TiVo or weblogs, but with the remote control, argues Christine Rosen in her fantastic essay, The Age of Egocasting. As consumers, we expect our television, our music, our movies,

    COMMENT:
    AUTHOR: Wayne E. Yang

    Thanks for posting this Christine Rosen piece, Om. I think it’s interesting that she specifically uses the word “fetish.” Of course, a phenomenon of the explosion of media is how it makes niche content viable. What does it mean, though, when that niche devolves to the “power of one,” imploding towards the ego? The vast majority of bloggers are essentially writing for themselves (a digitalization of the old vanity press) or, at best, a small circle of friends and family members. Does this mean they primarily seek self-/reconfirmation, to see how well their thoughts and interests resonate? The studies that show that political sites tend to overwhelmingly link to sites that share their own political views suggests that people are often satisfied to sit within the echo chambers they devise.

    COMMENT:
    AUTHOR: Doc McClenny

    i detest false comparisons that show lazy research. Haven’t journalists heard of fact checking?

    Only a small minority of homes currently own DVRs—about four percent, according to marketing research firm Knowledge Networks. As Advertising Age recently noted, this means that “more homes in the U.S. have outhousesâ€? than these devices.

    But 20 seconds of researc shows…
    http://www.mainetoday.com/census2000/news/020714outhouse.shtml

    The number of year-round homes without complete plumbing fixtures declined by 40 percent between 1990 and 2000, according to new figures released by the U.S. Census Bureau. The percentage of homes with incomplete plumbing declined from 1.6 percent to 0.9 percent.

    So in reality, we have many more DVRs than potential outhouses. The DBR statistic also ignores the rental of DBRs through cable TV suppliers.

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